New podcast series featuring Irish Jesuits in Hong Kong

April 13, 2021 in Featured News, News

A podcast series featuring Irish Jesuit missionaries in Hong Kong has just been published by Maurice O’Keeffe of the oral Irish history archive Irish Life and Lore ». While working on an oral history project in 2011 to record the children of those who played a central role in the 1916 Rising, Maurice travelled to Hong Kong to meet and record Fr. Joseph Mallin SJ (now deceased), son of executed revolutionary Commandant Michael Mallin.

Fr. Joseph was working in Hong Kong as a Jesuit missionary and whilst there Maurice recorded not only his story about his father’s life but also his testimony about his life as a missionary in the region.

It was a fortuitous meeting, says Maurice, which led to the compilation of seven further recordings with members of the Jesuit Community there. Sound clips from each of the eight recordings may be heard on the podcast.

As well as Fr Mallin, Maurice also met and spoke with Fr Sean Ó Cearbhallain, Fr John Russell, the late Fr James Hurley, the late Fr Alfred Deignan, the late Fr Ciaran Kane, the late Fr Harold Naylor, and Fr Sean Coghlan.

All of the eight men recorded were missionaries in Hong Kong for over half a century and Maurice says he was struck by “the totality of their dedication to their work as educators, and their involvement with the communities.”

They each spoke about their arrival in the region, learning the language, the cultural revolution, the Red Guard, Students’ Rights and education, the Imperial Rule, and the takeover. The changes which have occurred over the previous 50 years were also discussed in detail.

“Meeting the members of the Jesuit community in Hong Kong was, for me, a wonderful opportunity to capture testimonies of missionary life as it was lived by the last Irish Jesuits to be assigned to the region, and to mark the end of an era,” says Mark, adding, “They were very helpful and facilitated me in every way as they understood the importance of archiving their personal memories and stories for research and study into the future.”

For decades now Maurice O’Keeffe and his team have compiled numerous audio recordings and books for educational purposes, featuring thousands of Irish voices from all regions of the country. Their stories, like those of the Irish Jesuits in Hong Kong, have been captured and archived for future generations.

“It was a privilege to have been afforded the opportunity to meet and record these eight fine individuals, most of whom are now deceased,” concludes Maurice.

The eight full-length recordings are available here on the Irish Life and Lore website ».