Women of 1916- Áine Ceannt

The images on this site are from our installation ‘Something to Live for’ situated over the Ivy on Parliament Street and Dame Street Dublin.  The work was first installed in 2006 and has been reinstated for 2016.

Aine Ceannt

Áine Ceannt (née Brennan) – Something to Live For

 

Áine Ceannt (née Brennan)  1880-1954

Frances O’Brennan is best known by her married name, Áine Ceannt, as the widow of Eamonn Ceannt, one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising.

Frances was born on 23 September 1880, four months after the death of her father, Frank O’Brennan. Elizabeth Butler, Fanny’s mother got a job as a nurse in a workhouse after her husband’s death.

At the turn of the century Fanny joined the Gaelic League and, like many of the other women who became interested in the Irish language, she adopted an Irish name, Áine.  It was in the Gaelic League that she met Eamonn Ceannt. Their first encounter was on an annual excursion to Galway in 1901.  The couple married on 7th June 1905.  Their son Rónán was born on 18th  June 1906. Eamonn worked in the Dublin Corporation.  By 1916, he was the assistant to the City Treasurer and commanded a substantial salary.  He was a committed nationalist; in 1913, he joined the Irish Volunteers as a Private and rose to the rank of Captain.  He was in charge of the South Dublin Union garrison in 1916.

Just before his execution on 8th May 1916, Eamonn Ceannt wrote a last letter to his wife: ‘My dearest wife Áine. Not wife but widow before these lines reach you….Dearest ‘silly little Fanny’ My poor little sweetheart of – how many – years ago…Ever my comforter, God comfort you now.  What can I say? I die a noble death, for Ireland’s freedom…You will be – you are, the wife of one of the Leaders of the Revolution.  Sweeter still you are my little child, my dearest pet, my sweetheart of the hawthorn hedges and Summer’s ever….’

Like many of the other widows, Áine moved into a public role following the Rising. She had been a member of Cumann na mBan from its inception and her sister Lily, was in the Marrowbone Lane garrison. Áine served as vice-president of Cumann na mBan from 1917-1925.  In 1918 she contested the elections for the Urban District Council of Rathmines and was vice-chairman for a period.  During the years 1920-21, she acted as a District Justice in the republican courts in the Dublin suburbs of Rathmines and Rathgar. During the War of Independance, she sheltered men on the run; one of the many who stayed with her was Robert Barton.  She also acted as an arbitrator for the Labour Department of Dáil Éireann in wage disputes throughout the country.

In 1920, she became the founding member of the Irish White Cross allocating funds for the benefit of orphans of wars in Ireland.  By 1941 the office had closed but Áine archived all the papers and wrote a history of the White Cross from 1920-1947. 

From 1939-1947 she was a member of the Red Cross.  Mine died in February 1954. Her funeral took place in her local parish in Dundrum, County Dublin and she was buried in Deansgrange cemetery.

From the installation ‘Something to Live for’ Parliament St/Dame St Dublin by Farcry Productions Ltd.

http://www.1916onehundred.ie

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