Seán Tapley (b. 1951) and Rita Tapley (née O’Hanlon)
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Seán Tapley (b. 1951) and Rita Tapley (née O’Hanlon)


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Rita Tapley’s aunts, Sheila and Molly O’Hanlon, were members of Cumann na mBan. They lived in Dolphins Barn and were part of the garrison at Marrowbone Lane. Their home was used to store munitions, stretchers and medical supplies. Their father, James O’Hanlon, worked at Dolphins’s Barn Brickworks. Seán Tapley talks about Sheila O’Hanlon’s husband, Gilbert Lynch, from Manchester who was involved in the ITGWU and fought with Ned Daly at the Four Courts in 1916. Rita remembers her aunt Sheila O’Hanlon quite well, and describes her memories of her. Both Sheila and Molly served from 1916 through to the Civil War, and Seán describes their involvement and Sheila’s later life in Galway. Molly did not marry. Another sister, Kathleen, became a nun in South Africa and Rita recalls a letter she wrote home in which she referred to her jailbird sisters. Rita tells an anecdote about her aunt Eileen which relates to a visit she made to her father James O’Hanlon in Arbour Hill prison. She also details the members of the family and Seán comments on their strong-willed nature. The O’Hanlon family did not support the Treaty and were followers of Éamon de Valera. Rita mentions Margaret ‘Loo’ Kennedy, a member of Cumann na mBan and a family friend who later became a Senator. She also discusses her aunts’ medals and memorabilia. A story is told by Rita about her aunt Eileen moving ammunition in a baby’s pram. Seán reflects on what these people felt about their positions and says that they were unconcerned about having a prison record. Rita reads some letters written in 1920 by James O’Hanlon to his wife Rose from Arbour Hill Detention Barracks during the War of Independence. He mentions his eldest son Luke, a fellow prisoner, and asks about Gilbert Lynch. At this stage Rita’s father, James Jnr., was 12 years of age. He joined Fianna Éireann but Rita does not have much information about his early life as he died when she was a young girl. Michael Mallin was Seán Tapley granduncle. Seán’s grandmother was Mary ‘Mamie’ Mallin, Michael’s eldest sister. He describes Michael’s career in the British Army and his service in India. When Michael retired from the army he returned home and he met Agnes Hickey, whom he later married. Mamie Mallin married Jack Andrews. She visited her brother Michael in prison the night before his execution. She died in 1954 when Seán was very young. Katie Mallin, the youngest sister, lived with Seán and his family, and it is from her that Seán has got most of his information. He remembers Katie telling him stories about Michael’s career in the army and his subsequent life, and he talks about his granduncle’s love of music. Michael’s uncle had held a senior rank in the Royal Scots Fusiliers and it was he who encouraged the young man to join up. Seán remarks that joining the British Army was a typical career choice for Dublin families at that time. Seán explains that in about 1860 Michael’s mother’s family lived in Macclesfield in Cheshire, and some years later the Manchester Martyrs were executed, which would appear to have affected her. The family was to return to Dublin where she met John Mallin. Seán explains that it can be seen that she was proud of Michael at the time of his execution. Seán suspects that his great-grandmother, although upset by his loss in public, was proud that he died for Ireland. He discusses the effect of Michael Mallin’s execution on the family. Two of his brothers joined the Irish Volunteers and his sister Katie joined Cumann na mBan. Seán recalls a letter written by Michael Mallin in which he apologises to his brother-in-law, Jack Andrews, and his uncle Sergeant-Major James Dowling of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. At this time, his uncle had retired but Michael felt that his own behaviour might reflect badly on him. The family members who were at the prison and at the family home on the eve of Michael Mallin’s execution are named. His younger brother Tom did not get involved in the Rising but he was the only member of the family to make a witness statement for the Bureau of Military History. Were it not for this deposition there would be no record of what happened on that day. Seán’s mother, Sarah Andrews, eldest daughter of Mamie Mallin and Jack Andrews, was sent each day from the time she became a young teenager to take care of her grandparents, Seán explains. John Mallin had been a carpenter in Jacobs and Mamie also worked there as a confectioner. Seán recalls his father Edward Tapley and his brothers John and William. John was in the 1st Battalion Fianna Éireann and later in the 4th Battalion Irish Volunteers. John serviced and repaired firearms and according to family stories, William couriered messages and equipment for his older brother. Seán comments on the division in the Inchicore community between the pro and anti- Treaty sides. Rita reflects on the question of appropriate commemorative events during 2016 and Seán talks about the importance of the relatives who represent and honour their ancestors.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

41.04 MB

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Michael Mallin (1st Interviewee’s granduncle), Sheila and Molly O’Hanlon (2nd Interviewee’s aunts)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore