Born in Galway in 1881, Eamonn Ceannt was a founder
of the Irish Volunteers. He collected weapons in the
successful Howth gun-running operation of 1914. He
had an interest in Irish culture, especially in Irish
language and history. He was also a musician and a
talented uileann piper. He was the commander of the
Fourth Battalion of Irish Volunteers during the 1916
Rising and took control of the South Dublin Union (St.
James’s Hospital). He was executed on the 8th of May
Eamonn Ceannt was born in Glenamaddy, County Galway. He
was educated by the Christian Brothers' and graduated from
University College, Dublin before joining the administrative staff
of Dublin Corporation. In 1900 Ceannt joined the Central
Branch of the Gaelic League which also numbered Padraig
Pearse and Douglas Hyde among its members. Ceannt was an
active promoter of Irish music, a fine uileann piper and founder
of the Dublin Piper's Club.
Ceannt joined Sinn Fein and the IRB in 1908 and in November,
1913 he was appointed to the Provisional Committee of the newly
formed Irish Volunteers whose object was: 'To secure and
maintain the rights and liberties common to all the people of
Ireland; To train, discipline, arm and equip a body of Irish
Volunteers for the above purpose; and to unite for this purpose
Irish men of every creed and of every party and class'.
In June 1905, in a
ceremony conducted in
Irish, Ceannt married
Áine O'Brennan. Their
son Ronán was born in
June 1906. Áine Ceannt
later founded the White
Cross to help the families
impoverished by British
actions or the loss of
their breadwinners in the
War of Independence.
Sometime around 1913 he joined the Irish Republican
Brotherhood, and later was one of the founding members of
the Irish Volunteers. As such he was important in the planning
of the Easter Rising of 1916, being one of the original members of
the Military Committee and thus one of the seven signatories of
the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. He was made
commandant of the 4th Battalion of the Volunteers, and during
the Rising was stationed at the South Dublin Union and
the Marrowbone Lane Distillery, with more than 100 men under
his command, notably his second-in-command Cathal Brugha,
and W. T. Cosgrave. His unit saw intense fighting at times during
the week, but surrendered when ordered to do so by his superior
officer Patrick Pearse.
Ceannt was held in Kilmainham Gaol until his execution by
firing squad on 8 May 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.
His working hours were spent as a clerk in the City
Treasurer’s office while every moment of his spare time
was devoted to the great ideal of independence for
Ireland. He was recognized as one of the best teachers
of Irish and he had music, his native music especially,
in his soul. He was also a good athlete and in the year
1908 he was a member of a party of Irish athletes
visiting Rome for the Jubilee celebrations in honour of
His Holiness Pope Pius X. While there he was invited,
as a piper, to play before the Pope.
In November 1913 Eamonn Ceannt joined the Irish
Volunteers, he quickly rose in their ranks. He led
his men of the 4th Dublin Battalion to Howth for
the famous gund Running manoeuvre. He was
also present a week later when the Volunteers
landed a 2nd consignment of guns at Kilcoole,
Married to Áine O’Brennan, they had a son Rónán. Ceannt’s
brother William, was a sergeant-major in the Royal Dublin
Fusiliers (British army) stationed in Fermoy, Co Cork.
Áine Ceannt later founded the White Cross to help families
impoverished by war.
It is said that during the fighting in the South Dublin Union
Éamonn Ceannt remained calm and brave at a position his men
held until learning of the surrender on Sunday.
He faced the firing-squad at Kilmainham Gaol on May 8, 1916.
Galway City’s Ceannt Station in his native Galway, as well as
Éamonn Ceannt Park in Dublin and Éamonn Ceannt Tower in
Ballymun were named after him.
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