Éamonn Ceannt (Edward Thomas Kent)
Photo: Eamonn Ceannt
Aged 29 years at the time of the 1911 Census
Born: 21 September 1881
Executed: 8 May 1916
Address: 4, Herberton Lane (New Kilmainham, Dublin)
Éamonn's Census return was filled out in Irish and included his wife Áine aged 30 and his son Rónán aged 4. The census also recorded Elizabeth Brennan (60) and Eilís ní Bhraonáin (32) living in the house.
Éamonn Ceannt (or Edward Thomas Kent) was an Irish republican, mainly known for his role in the Easter Rising of 1916. Éamonn Ceannt was born in Glennamaddy, County Galway on 21 September 1881, but was raised and educated in Dublin. He was the son of an officer in the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC). After finishing his studies at University College Dublin Ceannt worked in the City Treasurer’s Office of Dublin Corporation. He was devoted to Irish language, music and dance and in 1900 joined the Gaelic League where he met Pádraig Pearse and Eoin McNeill and became interested in Irish nationalism. He became a fluent Irish speaker, began teaching Irish and changed his name to the Irish format. He was also an excellent musician and piper. He received a Papal blessing for his performance while in Rome with members of the Catholic Young Men’s Society, participating in an athletics competition to celebrate the jubilee of Pope Pius X1.
He married Frances May O’Brennan, otherwise known as Áine, in 1905. Áine came from a Fenian background; she was also a member of the Gaelic League and Cumann na mBan. Ceannt joined Sinn Féin in 1907 where he came to the attention of Seán Mac Diarmada who recruited him for the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). In 1913, the year of the formation of the Irish Volunteer Force (IVF), Éamonn was appointed to the Provisional Committee of the IVF and acquired the rank of Captain. Later he was promoted to commander of the 4th Battalion and was involved in the Howth Gun Running. He was also Director of Communications for the Irish Volunteers throughout the 32 counties2.
In 1915, Ceannt was introduced to the Supreme Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), where he was co-opted to the IRB Military Council. Together with Pearse and Joseph Mary Plunkett, he planned the rebellion. They were later joined by Thomas James Clarke and Seán Mac Diarmada. During the Easter Rising, Ceannt was a member of the Provincial Government and Commandant of the 4th Battalion of the Irish Volunteers, located at the South Dublin Union and surroundings (now St. James’s hospital), with more than 100 men under his command. These included Vice-Commandant Cathal Brugha and Lieutenant William T. Cosgrave. Ceannt displayed exceptional leadership and inspired confidence in the Volunteers who fought with him. Over the Easter weekend his family were sent to stay with Cathal Brugha’s family for safety. On the Easter Monday he read a copy of the Declaration of Independence to his men. His unit saw intense fighting and came under heavy fire from the British forces at times but they managed to repel every attack. However, he surrendered when Thomas Mac Donagh brought word of the order to surrender by Pearse.
On the morning of 7th May, after a mass in the prison, James J. Burke described in a Witness Statement how he met Éamonn Ceannt and asked him how he was: “He said "I am all right". I said to him, 'Will they do us all in?", and he answered, "They will do us in, they will do in the other signatories and myself, but I think you will be all right. I'm glad to see you are here3".
Éamonn Ceannt was court-martialled and sentenced to death by firing squad. One of the witnesses called by Ceannt was Thomas Mac Donagh but he had already been executed. Ceannt was aged 34 when the sentance was carried out on 8th May 1916 in Kilmainham Gaol.
Ceannt Station in Galway, the bus and rail station, was named in his honour following the 1966 commemorations.
See also Éamonn Ceannt Park Dublin
Go to Joseph Mary Plunkett