Úna Ó Callanáin (b. 1936)
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Úna Ó Callanáin (b. 1936)


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Úna Ó Callanáin recalls her mother’s attempts to encourage her husband, Séamus Mallin, to write about his father, Michael Mallin. Séamus (James) was the eldest of the five Mallin children and he was followed by John (Seán), Agnes (Úna) and Joe (all three entered religious life) and Máire Constance, who was born after her father’s death. Úna had safely kept all the family papers and a booklet has been published about which she is very pleased. Michael Mallin was executed when his son Séamus was 12. The family grew up in the Liberties but moved house depending on their circumstances. Úna describes the importance of the Irish language to her father, though he had never spoken Irish to his father. Michael Mallin had joined the British Army as a drummer boy and was a Grade One marksman. On leaving the army he became involved in teaching music, in playing in bands and in some small, not very successful, business enterprises. Michael’s wife, Agnes Hickey, came from Lucan, and for eight years before their marriage he had written to her from India, where he was based. Úna has these letters in her possession. Agnes was a nurse and she worked for a time on the Isle of Man. The Hickey family were comfortably off, unlike the Mallin family. Commandant Michael Mallin’s command in Stephen’s Green and at the College of Surgeons during the Rising is discussed, as is the fact that his army training proved to be of huge importance. He had drilled the Irish Citizen Army prior to the Rising and was made Chief of Staff by James Connolly. Úna discusses his working relationship with his second in command, Constance Markievicz, who was to become Máire’s godmother. A story from the time of the 1913 Lockout is retold. The lives of the Mallin family following Michael’s death are examined, and Úna explains why his widow received a lesser payment after her husband’s death as Michael was not one of the signatories to the Proclamation. Fortunately, her son Séamus got a scholarship to university to study engineering and went to Venezuela in order to help his mother and to fund his sister’s education. In later life he wrote of his recollections as a twelve year old boy, visiting his father the night before he was executed. Both Agnes and Michael were very religious, and following Michael’s execution Agnes was conscious of not adversely affecting her children’s lives by discussing their father’s death. Úna recalls meeting Margaret Pearse and she thinks that she and others helped the Mallin family in those bleak times, and she reflects on close connections. Úna goes through some of the Mallin letters which date back to 1898. She reads from a notebook kept by Agnes which includes notes for her children which clearly illustrate her love of them. Part of a letter Séamus wrote from South America about his life there in 1929 is also read. The 50th anniversary of the Rising in 1966, when Úna was invited to attend the celebrations at Dublin Castle, is recalled. She has a photograph of the five Mallin siblings together there at that time, and she feels that this was a happy moment for her father. She reflects on the sacrifice made by her grandfather and his comrades and the fact that they died for the cause. She remembers Séamus as a loving father who did not wish to recall for his family the sadness of his childhood. Republicanism was important to him and he later became a Fianna Fail supporter. Úna describes Michael Mallin’s involvement in the Irish Citizen Army, and explains that up until 1914 little was known of him. The family is forever attempting to gather information about his role from other families’ archives. Úna reads from some of her grandfather’s letters to Agnes. She recalls the fact that when Michael was being taken to Kilmainham Gaol he was brought past the family home, though he did not see any of the family there.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

37.00 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



Michael Mallin (Interviewees’s grandfather)

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