To mark the centenary of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising in 2016, the Irish Film Board selected 9 projects for their latest short film scheme, After ’16. Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board (IFB) invited filmmakers to give their response to 1916 and the hundred years since. Directed by Joe Dolan and produced by Niamh Heery, the short documentary is called A Father’s Letter.
On the eve of his execution in Kilmainham Gaol, Michael Mallin’s two-year-old son Joseph was brought to see him. Although Joseph was too young at the time to remember, his father wrote a letter to his mother that night that would change the course of the young boy’s life forever. In it he tells his wife and family he loves them and asks his little boy to be a priest.
Fr. Joe, now 102 years old, is the sole surviving child of the executed leaders of 1916. Fr. Joe was sent to China in 1948 and subsequently to Hong Kong due to the danger to religious people under the Communist Revolution. He remembers vividly the scenes of abject poverty he witnessed in those early days. He has remained there ever since, where he has run a Jesuit school in the city.
The film premiered as part of Ireland’s commemorations in early 2016 and went out to the Irish diaspora and international film festivals during the year. It was broadcast on RTÉ One in December 2016.