Éamonn Ceannt

(21/09/1881 - 08/05/1916)

Éamonn Ceannt, born Edward Thomas Kent in the police barracks at Ballymoe, Co. Galway,on 21 September 1881 is an Irish republican who played a key role in the 1916 Rising. Èamonn Ceannt Park and the cycling track on Sundrive Road is named after him.  Éamonn also lived in Herberton Road in a house named Bloomfield in 1909-14, a house mentioned in James Joyce’s Ulysses, now regrettably demolished.

Éamonn was the son of James Kent, an officer in the Royal Irish Constabulary, and his wife, Joanne Galway. His father was transferred to Ardee, Co. Louth, where Éamonn attended the De La Salle national school. The family next moved to Drogheda, where he attended the Christian Brothers’ school at Sunday’s Gate. On his father’s retirement in 1892, the family settled in Dublin, at 232 Clonliffe Rd, Drumcondra; there, Edward went to O’Connell’s CBS, North Richmond St., where he was a diligent student, and a keen rugby player and hurler. He did particularly well in his final exams in 1898 and became a clerk in the city treasurer’s office of Dublin corporation.

The centenary commemorations for the 1798 rebellion sparked his interest in cultural nationalism, and he began to study Irish, tutored by his father, who was a native speaker. In September 1899 he joined the Gaelic League, where he met Pàdraig Pearse and Eoin MacNeill, and adopted the Irish form of his name. He was soon fluent in Irish and teaching classes himself, and was elected to the League’s governing body in 1909; he fought a successful three-year battle with the authorities to insist that his son’s birth should be registered in Irish.

He enjoyed learning languages and in his youth often spent time at Dublin port talking to foreign sailors; besides Irish, he spoke French and German reasonably well. His dedication to Gaelic culture led him to become an accomplished uilleann piper: he spent his holidays travelling throughout Gaeltacht regions collecting old airs and won many prizes at the annual feiseanna for his piping. He also played the flute, tin-whistle and violin.

In February 1900 he was involved with Edward Martyn in setting up the Dublin Pipers’ Club, of which he became secretary. He managed to procure a printing press on which he printed a journal, An Piobaire, designed to promote the club, the first issue appearing on 5 July 1901. A devout catholic, who neither smoked nor drank, Ceannt travelled to Rome in September 1908 with a group of Irish athletes and musicians who were members of the Catholic Young Men’s Society to celebrate the jubilee of Pope Pius X. Dressed in a colourful traditional piper’s costume (now in the National Museum of Ireland (NMI)), he played the pipes in a private audience with the pope.

On 7 June 1905 at St James’ Church, James’ St, Dublin, he married Áine Ní Bhraonáin (Áine Ceannt (qv)), whom he met in the Gaelic League. They lived at 2 Dolphin’s Terrace, South Circular Road, Dublin, and had one son, Ronan (1906–74).

Ceannt had socialist sympathies and was involved in the unionisation of his fellow workers in Dublin Corporation, eventually becoming chairman of the Dublin Municipal Officers’ Association. His first serious involvement in national politics, however, was in 1907 when he joined Arthur Griffith’s new political party, Sinn Féin.

Éamonn lived on Herberton Road in Bloomfield in 1909-14, a house mentioned in James Joyce’s Ulysses. However, this historical structure met its demise in the early 2000s, bulldozed to make way for more car parking space for a car showroom—a glaring testament to our society’s skewed priorities. Now, it’s poised for further transformation into a Lidl supermarket and apartments, a fitting conclusion to a saga of cultural neglect in Crumlin. This saga isn’t unique; it’s emblematic of an era marred by rampant consumerism and convenience, where heritage preservation takes a backseat to profit margins. The trend traces back to the 1930s, when Herbert Simms’s “Crumlin Housing Scheme” set the precedent by erasing swathes of 18th and 19th-century architecture in Crumlin, replacing it with a maze of boilerplate council houses to maximise value and resident numbers. The local houses once-distinctive charm and features, now stand as mere shadows of their former selves, bastardised beyond recognition by their owners —a tragic consequence of our relentless pursuit of progress.

Following the withdrawal of the National Volunteers under Redmond, Ceannt, Pearse and Plunkett were elected to key offices in the Irish Volunteers, giving them virtual control. In addition, Ceannt became commandant of the 4th Battalion of the Dublin Brigade in March 1915. Many of the Military Council meetings took place at his house in Dolphin’s Barn.

On Easter Monday 1916, Ceannt and 120 men of the 4th Battalion of the Irish Volunteers, who reported for duty, occupied the South Dublin Union, a workhouse/hospital spread over fifty-two acres off James’s Street and also some covering buildings. They held part of the complex until they were informed of the general surrender the following Sunday. When court-martialled at Richmond Barracks (3–4 May), he showed considerable composure and did his best to cast doubt on the prosecution charges, apparently trying to secure an acquittal on technical grounds. Condemned to death, he was executed on 8 May 1916 by firing squad in Kilmainham jail, Dublin, and was buried at Arbour Hill prison cemetery.

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Connection with area: Revolutionary and republican who lived on Herberton Road and who has Éamonn Ceannt park named after him.