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Michael Thomas Christopher Mallin[1] (Irish: Micheál Ó Mealláin; 1 December 1874 – 8 May 1916) was an Irish rebel and socialist who took an active role in the Easter Rising of 1916. He was a silk weaver, the co-founder with Francis Sheehy-Skeffington of the Socialist Party of Ireland, and was second-in-command of the Irish Citizen Army under James Connolly in the Easter Rising, in which he commanded the garrison at St. Stephen's Green in Dublin, with Kit Poole as his second-in-command.[2]

Michael Thomas Christopher Mallin
Michael Mallin - (Commandant Irish Republican Army) Executed May 8th, 1916. (36052732403).jpg
Born (1874-12-01)1 December 1874
Ward's Hill, The Liberties, Dublin, Ireland[1]
Died 8 May 1916(1916-05-08) (aged 41)
Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, Ireland

Irish Citizen Army

British Army
Years of service 1913–1916
Rank Commandant
Second in Command of Irish Citizen Army
Commands held St Stephen's Green Garrison, Easter Week, 1916
Battles/wars Easter Rising, Tirah Campaign



Mallin was born in Dublin, the eldest of nine children of John Mallin, a carpenter, and his wife Sarah (née Dowling). The family lived in a tenement in the Liberties neighbourhood. He received his early education at the National School at Denmark Street. When he was 15 he visited his uncle James Dowling, who was a member of the British Army as a pay sergeant, and was persuaded to enlist in the army as a drummer.[3] Mallin's mother witnessed the murder of the Manchester Martyrs.[4] According to his brother Thomas, their father was a "strong nationalist and he and Michael had many a political argument".[5]

Army careerEdit

Mallin enrolled as a member of the 21st Royal Scots Fusiliers on 21 October 1889. During the early years of his service he was stationed in Great Britain and Ireland. His regiment was sent to India in 1896, where he served out the remainder of his almost fourteen-year career and took part in the Tirah Campaign. It was during Mallin's time in India that he became radicalised. In 1897, when asked to donate to the memorial fund for Queen Victoria's jubilee year he refused because 'he could not subscribe as the English monarch had taken an oath to uphold the Protestant faith'.[3] Mallin's brother, Thomas, suggested that incidents like the above kept him from being promoted any higher than a drummer. He was awarded the India Medal of 1895 with the Punjab Frontier and Tirah clasps 1897–98.[citation needed]

Post army lifeEdit

On Mallin's return to Ireland he became a silk weaver's apprentice under his uncle James, who had retired from the British Army. He progressed to become a leading official in the silk weavers' union. During the 1913 Lockout, he led a strike of silk workers at the Hanbury Lane factory. The strike lasted for thirteen weeks, with Mallin an effective negotiator on behalf of the strikers. Mallin was appointed second-in-command and chief training officer of the Irish Citizen Army (ICA), which was formed to protect workers from the Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) and from employer-funded gangs of strike-breakers. Under the tutelage of Mallin and James Connolly, the ICA became an effective military force.

He was appointed chief of staff of the ICA in October 1914.[6]

Easter RisingEdit

When Connolly was inducted into the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) in January 1916, Mallin began preparing ICA members for the imminent uprising. In the week before the rising he communicated orders to the ICA members throughout the city. On Easter Monday, Mallin departed from Liberty Hall at 11:30 am to take up his post at St Stephen's Green with his small force of ICA men and women. Upon arriving at the park they evacuated it, dug trenches, erected kitchen and first aid stations, and constructed barricades in the surrounding streets. Constance Markievicz arrived and was originally thought to have been appointed Mallin's second-in-command, but later evidence pointed to this role belonging to Captain Christopher Poole, with Markievicz being third-in-command.[7]

Mallin planned to occupy the Shelbourne Hotel, located on the north-east side of the park, but insufficient troops prevented him from doing so. This would prove disastrous for the rebels as British troops were able to occupy the upper floors of the hotel on Monday night. Early Tuesday morning the troops in the Shelbourne began firing down on the encamped rebels. Under intense machine gun fire, Mallin ordered his troops to retreat to the Royal College of Surgeons on the west side of the park. The garrison remained in the barricaded building for the remainder of the week. By Thursday, the garrison was completely cut-off from the rebel headquarters at the General Post Office (GPO) and running low on food and bullets.

On Sunday 30 April 1916, just one week after the commencement of the Easter Rising and the declaration of the Irish Republic, Commandant Michael Mallin, Chief of Staff of the Irish Citizen Army was ordered to surrender his garrison at the College of Surgeons, St Stephen's Green. The order to surrender was signed by his Commander-in-Chief, Commandant General James Connolly and P.H Pearse. The order was delivered to Commandant Mallin by Nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell.

After a tense week of fierce fighting, exhausted and hungry, heartbroken by the decision to surrender, and knowing full well what lay in store for him, Commandant Mallin wrote a note to his wife Agnes. The note was written on the inside of a used envelope that has been torn open at the sides. It read – "My darling wife all is lost. My love to all my children, no matter what my fate I am satisfied I have done my duty to my beloved Ireland, and you, and to my darling children. I charge you as their sole guardian now to bring them up in the national faith of your father, and of my faith, of our unborn child [may] God and his blessed Mother help you and it. I said all was lost, I meant all but honour and courage. God and his blessed Mother again guard and keep you my own darling wife".[8]

Commandant Mallin obeyed the order and surrendered his garrison to Captain H. E. De Courcy-Wheeler, Staff Captain to General Lowe, acting Commander of British troops in Ireland. Commandant Mallin and the men and women under his command were arrested and taken prisoner. The garrison was taken first to Ship Street Barracks at Dublin Castle then on to Richmond Barracks, at Inchicore where Commandant Mallin was separated for court-martial. Commandant Mallin was court-martialled on 5 May, found guilty of treason and he was executed by firing squad in the stonebreaker's yard at Kilmainham Gaol at sunrise on 8 May 1916. Commandant Mallin predicted his execution at the time of his surrender; however, he did not predict the attempt by the court martial to smear his good name and character.[9]

The summary trial by field general court-martial, an all-military court, was held in secret. There was no jury in the court, and no independent observers or members of the public were permitted to attend the court. The trial was hardly impartial, and there was certainly a significant conflict of interest in the selection of the president of the court.[10] The trial lasted less than 15 minutes. The court president was Brigadier Ernest Maconchy and the other members of the court-martial were, Lieutenant Colonel A.M. Bent, and Major F.W Woodward.[11] The prosecuting officer was Ernest Longworth, a commissioned officer in the Training Corps at Trinity College and a member of the Irish Bar. Commandant Mallin had no legal representation at his trial.[12]

The court-martial record of Commandant Michael Mallin has been shown to be an unreliable account of the proceedings and a deliberate attempt to impugn his character.[13] The extant records of Commandant Mallin are testament to his behaviour, his character and concern for his comrades. Significantly, there are omissions from the court-martial record, important omissions that demonstrate Commandant Mallin's acceptance of his fate and his strength of character when faced with the certainty of a death sentence. The responsibility for these omissions from the court-martial record rests entirely with the court-martial president, Brigadier Maconchy.[11][13]

The principal witness for the prosecution was Captain De Courcy-Wheeler. His eye-witness account of the surrender is presented in his sworn evidence to the court-martial[11] and his first-hand account of the surrender and court-martial is presented in his memoir.[14] He stated to the court-martial that "the prisoner [Mallin] came forward…. saluted and said he wished to surrender ….and stated he was the Commandant of the garrison". Commandant Mallin didn't challenge Captain De Courcy-Wheeler's evidence even though he knew the significance of the evidence and its impact on the outcome of his court-martial. According to Captain Wheeler, when Commandant Mallin was asked if he wished to question him, Commandant Mallin replied…No.[14]

Furthermore, according to Captain De Courcy-Wheeler, when Commandant Mallin was given leave to speak he used the opportunity to thank Captain Wheeler for his courtesy during the surrender…. "[Mallin] I wish it placed on record how grateful my comrades and myself are for the kindness and consideration which Captain Wheeler has shown to us during this time".[14] The court president acknowledged the request and agreed that Commandant Mallin's expression of gratitude would be recorded in the court record. However, despite the promise made by the court president, Brigadier Maconchy, none of this is recorded in the court-martial record. Maconchy didn't keep his word.[11][14]

Commandant Mallin knew he was a condemned man [1] [2] and that nothing he could say to the secret court martial would alter that fact. It is a fallacy to suggest that Commandant Mallin denied his command and responsibility for his garrison. It should be noted that the words in this court-martial record [3] are the uncorroborated hand-written words of one man, the president of the court-martial and his words by his own admission "they are, in many cases, my own words". [8]. Captain De Courcy-Wheeler's first-hand account of the court-martial identifies and confirms these significant and important omissions from the court-martial record.

The motives behind what would seem to be deliberate omissions from the trial record, and the statements ascribed to Commandant Mallin, would indicate that there were some old scores to settle with Mallin; not least from Mallin's former career in the British Army; and this was an opportunity to settle that score.[15] This court-martial record [4] in itself was a double edged sword designed to discredit Commandant Mallin and at the same time indict Countess Markievicz by providing evidence that would confirm her execution.

General Maxwell, newly appointed Commander-in-Chief of British Army in Ireland, had already expressed his own motives for wanting to execute Markievicz. He considered her "bloody guilty and dangerous …a woman who forfeited the privileges of her sex …we can't allow our soldiers to be shot down by such like….Lord French agreed with Maxwell…personally I agree with you she ought to be shot".[16] Maxwell needed a weight of evidence against Markievicz if he was to convince Prime Minister Asquith to accept his decision to confirm her death sentence. The court-martial of Commandant Mallin presented Maxwell with the opportunity to place Markievicz in a commanding role and thereby strengthen his hand to execute her as a "ringleader of the rebellion" those guilty of cold blooded murder….a phrase frequently repeated by the Prime Minister Asquith and General Maxwell.[17] However, Asquith insisted that no woman should be executed. Consequently, the sentence of death on Countess Markievicz was commuted to penal servitude for life by a reluctant Maxwell.

Historians have warned us not to settle for the official histories prepared by the generals of the empire if we want something approximating the truth and that there are sound reasons to be wary of official histories, particularly so in relation to 1916.[18]

Execution and commemorationEdit

Mallin was executed by firing squad on 8 May 1916. The presiding officer at his court martial was Colonel EWSK Maconchy.[19] The night before his execution he was visited in his cell by his mother, three of his siblings, his pregnant wife and their four children.[3] In his last letter to his wife, who was pregnant with their fifth child, Mallin stated that "I find no fault with the soldiers or the police" and asked her "to pray for all the souls who fell in this fight, Irish and English."[20] He commented "so must Irishmen pay for trying to make Ireland a free nation." He wrote to his children 'Una my little one be a Nun Joseph my little man be a Priest if you can James & John to you the care of your mother make yourselves good strong men for her sake and remember Ireland'[20] Both Una and Joseph followed his wishes.[21][22] His funeral mass took place at the Dominican Church in Tallaght on 13 May 1916. People from the procession clashed with police outside the church with two policemen injured.[23]

Dún Laoghaire Mallin DART station is named after Michael Mallin.[24]


Mallin married Agnes Hickey, whom he had met during his early home service in the Army, in 1903. They had three sons and two daughters, the youngest born after Mallin's execution. His youngest son, Fr. Joseph Mallin SJ, born in September 1913, a Jesuit priest and teacher in Hong Kong, celebrated his 102nd birthday in 2015. He is the last surviving child of those executed in the Rising.[25]

In 2017, Fr. Joseph Mallin SJ published an essay entitled "To the Memory of my Father". The essay was presented to Kilmainham Gaol.


  1. ^ a b 16 Lives: Michael Mallin by Brian Hughes pg 16
  2. ^ O'Brien, Paul. "A WALK IN THE PARK 1916". Irish Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Ryan, Anne-Marie (2014). 16 Dead Men. Mercier History. ISBN 978-1781171349. 
  4. ^ 16 Lives: Michael Mallin. p. 17. 
  5. ^ 16 Lives: Michael Mallin. p. 19. 
  6. ^ 16 Lives: Michael Mallin. p. 86. 
  7. ^ Millar, Scott (December 2013). "Not for fame or for name". Liberty. 12 (10): 23. 
  8. ^ Michael Mallin 1916 – Letter to Agnes, his wife. Kilmainham Gaol Museum ref. 2012-0087
  9. ^ Frank Robbins, Bureau of Military History witness statement BMH WS 0585
  10. ^ Enright, Sean. Easter Rising 1916 – The Trials. p. 61. ISBN 978-1-908928-37-5. 
  11. ^ a b c d Public Records Office, London.--Ref PROWO71/353 Proceedings of Field Court Martial of Michael Mallin
  12. ^ Colonel Michael Campion, Defence Forces Review 2016 – The 1916 Court Martial Trial Regime (p.73)
  13. ^ a b Fr Joseph Mallin SJ (2017).--To the memory of my Father Commandant Michael Mallin. Kilmainham Gaol Museum ref. KMGHM2017.0016
  14. ^ a b c d Alex Findlater (2016). 1916 Surrenders, Captain H. E. De Courcy-Wheeler's Eyewitness account. (p.59) ISBN 978-0-9540744-9-4. Captain Henry De Courcy-Wheeler's contemporaneous field note books and papers were presented to the National Museum of Ireland in 1966 by his eldest son
  15. ^ [9] Irish Times (6 July), article by Frank McNally – An Irishman's Diary. A fate worse than death the court-martial of Michael Mallin
  16. ^ Charles Townshend (2006) – Easter Rising 1916, The Irish Rebellion (p.286) ISBN 0-141-0216-1 Parameter error in {{isbn}}: Invalid ISBN.
  17. ^ Charles Townshend (2006) – Easter Rising 1916, The Irish Rebellion (p.282) ISBN 0-141-0216-1 Parameter error in {{isbn}}: Invalid ISBN.
  18. ^ Irish Times (May 2016), article by historian Seán Enright
  19. ^ "Easter 1916 Court Martials". Ancient Order of Hibernians, Division 61. 
  20. ^ a b Mac Lochlainn, Piaras F. (1990). Last Words:Letters and Statements of the Leaders Executed After the Rising at Easter 1916. Office of Public Works. 
  21. ^ McHugh, Fionnuala (13 September 2013). "The 'oldest Irish priest' turns 100 in Hong Kong". The Irish Times. 
  22. ^ McHugh, Fionnuala (15 September 2013). "My life: Father Joseph Mallin". South China Morning Post. 
  23. ^ "Dublin, Mass for the Martyrs". The Irish Standard. Minneapolis. 16 June 1917. Retrieved 2 September 2017. 
  24. ^ "In honour of Michael Malin". dlharbour. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 17 November 2009. 
  25. ^ "Last surviving child of executed 1916 leader turns 102". 15 September 2015. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  • Hughes, Brian, Michael Mallin, Dublin: O'Brien Press, 2012.

External linksEdit