Ceannt, Áine (1880–1954) republican, was born Frances Mary O'Brennan on 23 September 1880 in Dublin, the youngest of four children of Francis O'Brennan (d. 1880), auctioneer and former Fenian, and his wife, Elizabeth (née Butler). She was educated at the Dominican College, Eccles St. On leaving school she joined the Gaelic League, and adopted the Irish form of her name, Áine Ní Bhraonáin. She first met her husband, Éamonn Ceannt (qv), on the league's annual excursion to Galway in 1901. They married in Dublin (7 June 1905) and had one son, Ronan (1906–74). Her husband was a leading separatist and she fully supported his political and cultural activities, becoming a member of Cumann na mBan at its inception in April 1914. Áine was a sister of the prominent republican activist Elizabeth (‘Lily’) O'Brennan (qv) and the playwright Kathleen O'Brennan. Appointed with Kathleen Clarke (qv) to set up Cumann na mBan's central branch, Áine and her sister Lily sat on its executive. The Ceannts’ home at 2 Dolphin's Terrace, South Circular Road, was often used for IRB and military council meetings, and Áine witnessed many of the preparations for the Easter rising. In the run-up to the rising she was herself involved in writing and delivering dispatches. She and her son spent the rising at Cathal Brugha's (qv) house at Fitzwilliam Terrace, Dartry Rd, Rathmines, and returned home to find her own house ransacked and virtually destroyed.
She saw her husband at Kilmainham jail on 7 May 1916, the eve of his execution, and held out hopes of a reprieve to the end. After his death she devoted herself to furthering the republican cause, notably as vice-president of the Volunteer Dependants’ Fund, which was established soon after the executions to distribute relief from IRB funds to families bereaved by the rising. At the Cumann na mBan convention in 1917 she was elected as one of four vice-presidents, a position she held until she retired in 1924. She was co-opted as a member of Sinn Féin's standing committee in 1917, and re-elected annually until 1924. Elected in 1918 to the Rathmines urban district council, she was chosen as vice-chairman of the council (1920–22), and deputy vice-chairman of the Dublin board of guardians. She was appointed district justice in the daíl courts on their formation in 1920 and served as co-trustee of the funds of the Rathmines and Rathgar district courts. She also worked as an arbitrator with the Sinn Féin labour court (1920–21) which required her to travel the country investigating industrial disputes. Travel was difficult and dangerous in these years and, lacking legal training, she often found the work daunting. She was, however, one of Sinn Féin's most indefatigable women and her home at Oakley Road, Rathmines was much frequented by republicans. During the war of independence it was raided eleven times by troops and police, who fired shots and caused serious damage on at least three occasions.
When the Irish White Cross was established in 1920 to assist the civilian population during the war of independence, Ceannt was appointed to its general council, and in 1922 she became its secretary. She was particularly active on its orphan care committee, which after the dissolution of the IWC (1928) continued its work as the Children's Relief Association. As general secretary of the committee and association (1922–47), she travelled extensively throughout the country, visiting, interviewing, and advising families in receipt of financial aid. Kathleen Clarke later said of her contribution, ‘Mrs Ceannt was an ideal secretary for the work, and took as much interest in it as if the children were her own’ (Clarke, 174).
Ceannt presided over a Cumann na mBan convention on the Treaty in February 1922 held at the Mansion House, Dublin, which voted overwhelmingly against. She took the anti-treaty side in the civil war but from December 1922 to April 1923 was a member of a Sinn Féin peace committee which attempted to bring the conflict to an end. Her home was regularly raided by Free State troops, and so frequent and severe were the raids in the early months of 1923 that it was left largely uninhabitable. Writing to her sister Lily in Kilmainham jail (Easter 1923), she stated: ‘I'll begin to think I am very important owing to all the attention paid to me. The Free State evidently holds me in higher estimation than do the republicans’ (O'Brennan papers). Throughout this period she maintained her interest in the Gaelic League, serving on its executive committee (Coiste Gnó) until 1925.
She went on to play an active role in the Irish Red Cross from its formation in 1939. Having accepted the post of honorary treasurer, she served on its executive committee, participated in the management of its junior branch, and, as a government nominee, was a member of its central council. She resigned from active service in the organisation in 1946, and from the Children's Relief Association in July 1947. That year she wrote a history of the Irish White Cross. In her later years she moved to Churchtown, Co. Dublin. She died 2 February 1954 in her home, Inis Ealgan, and was buried in Deansgrange cemetery.