"We Were Hoping For The Best"
In this interview Rónán talks about his father's early life. Éamonn Ceannt was born in Ballmoe, County Galway in 1881. His father James Kent was a constable in the RIC and due to his work the family moved around Ireland before finally settling in Dublin on his retirement.
Éamonn Ceannt attended the O'Connell School, North Richmond Street. This school was run by the Christian Brothers and many of those who were later involved in the Irish revolutionary movement were pupils. On finishing his education Éamonn Ceannt worked as a clerk in the Treasury Office in Dublin Corporation.
Rónán remembers his father was a keen Irish speaker. He was a member of the Gaelic League and taught Irish language classes. It was through his teaching that he met Áine Ní Bhraonáin (Aine Brennan). The couple married in June 1905 in St James' Church, James' Street and according to Rónán 'was the first marriage in the Irish language for 100 years in Dublin.' The following year Rónán was born in Reuben Avenue, near Dolphin's Barn.
Rónán recalls that his father had a number of hobbies. He was a keen gardener and loved music. He was an accomplished uilleann piper and also played the violin.
Éamonn Ceannt joined the Irish Volunteers on the formation in November 1913 and as Rónán says.
From the time he joined the Volunteers we didn't see that much of him as we had before.
The last time Rónán saw his father was on the morning of Easter Monday. He insisted that Áine, Rónán and Áine's mother leave the family home as it was located between the South Dublin Union (SDU), which Éamonn was to occupy and Wellington Barracks on South Circular Road and he feared they could be caught up in the fighting.
We set off as if we were going to a picnic, much to my grandmother's annoyance. She didn't want to move out.
After the surrender on 30 April, the Volunteers were taken to Richmond Barracks. Detectives from Dublin Castle identified the leaders or those they believed were prominent in the movement. Ceannt was Commandant of the 4th Battalion and a signatory of the Proclamation and was tried by court martial.
After the first executions on 3 May public opinion began to change. Rónán recalls that the newspapers reported that Ceannt, with two others were sentenced to three years penal servitude. Despite being so young Rónán knew this was not true.
Even at that time I realised that was a little bit too much to hope for.
Éamonn Ceannt was executed on 8 May 1916. Although devastated at the death of his father, Rónán remembers that he and his mother found some solace in the fact that there was a lot of support from the people.
There was so much excitement and so forth going on, I mean so many masses and so forth were being said that one was buoyed up at the time.
Rónán Ceannt was the only child of Éamonn and Áine Ceannt. He later became a solicitor. Rónán Ceannt died in January 1974, he was sixty-seven years old.
Rónán Ceannt was interviewed for the RTÉ Television project 'Portraits 1916' on 21 November 1965.