Remembering Éamonn Ceannt – Irish Revolutionaries

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Remembering Éamonn Ceannt

Remembering Éamonn Ceannt

The Irish Revolutionary Éamonn Ceannt was executed in Kilmainham Gaol this day in 1916.

Edward Thomas Kent was born in the little village of Ballymoe, overlooking the River Suck in County Galway on September 21st 1881.

His parents were James Kent and Joanne Galway, Éamonn was the sixth of seven children. His father, James Kent was a Royal Irish Constabulary officer.

Stationed in Ballymoe, in 1883 he was promoted and transferred to Ardee, County Louth. When his father retired from the force, the family moved to Dublin.

They were a very religious Catholic family and it has been said that Ceannt's religious teaching as a child stayed with him for the rest of his life.

While living in county Louth, Ceannt attended the De La Salle national school. After 5 years of schooling in Louth, the family moved to Drogheda, where he attended the Christian Brothers school, Sunday's Gate (Now Scholars Townhouse Hotel).

They moved to Dublin in 1892 and lived in Drumcondra. Here he attended the North Richmond Street Christian Brothers School. Two other leaders from the 1916 rising, Seán Heuston and Con Colbert, were educated at that school.

Ceannt achieved excellent results in his final exams prior to leaving school. After finishing he was presented with the opportunity to work for the civil service but turned this position down as he felt he would be working for the British.

He went on to secure a job with the clerical staff of the City Treasurer and Estates and Finances office; he was working as an accountant with the Dublin Corporation from 1901-1916.

In 1899, Ceannt joined the central branch of the Gaelic League. It was here where he first met many of the men who would play a major role in the rising, including Patrick Pearse and Eoin MacNeill.

Ceannt was an extremely committed member to the league, he was an elected a member of the governing body and by 1905 he was teaching Irish language classes in branch offices of the league.

In February 1900 Ceannt, along with Edward Martyn founded Cumann na bPíobairí (The Pipers Club). Ceannt's musical talents earned him a gold medal at the 1906 Oireachtas and in 1905 he even put on a performance for Pope Pius X.

It was through the Gaelic League where Ceannt first met his wife, Frances Mary O’Brennan who was known as Áine. She came from a strongly nationalist family, both of her sisters Kathleen and Lily O'Brennan were also involved in the nationalist movement.

Ceannt was involved in trade unionism, being a member of the Dublin Metropolitan Officers’ Association and later serving as its chairman. He publicly supported the workers in the Wexford lock-out of 1911 (forerunner of the Dublin Lock-out of 1913)

In 1907 Ceannt joined the Dublin central branch of Sinn Féin and over the following years, he became increasingly determined to see an Independent Ireland. In 1912 he was sworn to the Irish Republican Brotherhood by Sean MacDiarmada.

Ceannt was one of the signatories of the 1916 proclamation and had been appointed Director of Communications, he was made commandant of the 4th Battalion of the Volunteers.

During the Easter Rising, he was stationed at the South Dublin Union, with more than 100 men under his command, notably his second-in-command Cathal Brugha, and W. T. Cosgrave. The South Dublin Union controlled a large area south of Kilmainham around Dolphin's Barn.

The Volunteers drove back repeated assaults from determined regimental attacks. Ceannt used a contingent at the Marrowbone Lane Distillery to enfilade the passing British soldiers; grinding attacks broke through to the Women's Infirmary.

The British were forced to tunnel into the buildings and, as Ceannt's numbers reduced, it was increasingly involved in close quarter fighting. His unit saw intense fighting at times during the week but surrendered when ordered to do so by his superior officer Patrick Pearse.

After the unconditional surrender of the 1916 fighters, Eamonn Ceannt along with the other survivors were brought to Richmond Barracks to be detained, where he was identified as one of the leaders, court-martialled and sentenced to death.

Ceannt was held in Kilmainham Gaol until his execution by firing squad on May 8th 1916, aged 34.

Galway City's Ceannt Station, the main bus and rail station in his native county of Galway, is named in his honour, as well as Éamonn Ceannt Park in Dublin. Eamonn Ceannt Tower in Ballymun, which was demolished in 2005, was also named after him.

There is also a commemorative plaque on the wall of Scholars Townhouse Hotel, the former Christian Brother School where Eamonn Ceannt was educated.

"I leave for the guidance of other Irish Revolutionaries who may tread the path which I have trod this advice, never to treat with the enemy, never to surrender at his mercy, but to fight to a finish...Ireland has shown she is a nation. This generation can claim to have raised sons as brave as any that went before. And in the years to come Ireland will honour those who risked all for her honour at Easter 1916."

Fuair sé bás ar son saoirse na hÉireann

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