Martin, Eamon (1892–1971), republican, was born 20 January 1892 at the family home at Island Villas, Dublin, the eighth of five sons and five daughters of John Martin, tailor, and his wife, Margaret (née Rohan). He was educated nearby at St Andrew's school, Great Brunswick Street. Upon leaving school in 1907, he began a tailoring apprenticeship.
A member of the Father Anderson branch of the Gaelic League from the age of 15, he was also a founding member of the republican youth organisation Na Fianna Éireann, and attended their inaugural meeting at 34 Lower Camden Street in Dublin on 16 August 1909. He was associated with the original branch (sluagh) of the Fianna, but soon set up his own branch, which became known as Wolfe Tone sluagh. At the first Fianna ard fheis in 1910, he was elected to the organisation's central council. In 1911 he joined the IRB and was part of the IRB's Fianna circle, led by Con Colbert (qv), which used the cover name John Mitchel Literary and Debating Society.
In September 1913, while James Connolly (qv) was on hunger strike in Mountjoy prison, Martin, accompanied by Francis Sheehy-Skeffington (qv) and the trade union official William O'Brien (qv), met the viceroy, Lord Aberdeen (qv), to press for Connolly's release, which they successfully obtained. In November 1913 Martin was an original member of the provisional committee of the Irish Volunteers, and was appointed as captain to the first military subcommittee. During the restructuring of Na Fianna Éireann in 1915, which came about following a proposal from Martin at the ard fheis, the organisation developed its military structure, to bring it in line with the Irish Volunteers. He was appointed Fianna commandant of the Dublin Brigade (with Seán Heuston (qv) as his vice-commandant) and national Fianna director of recruiting and organisation, holding these posts up to, and including, the 1916 Easter rising.
Active in the rising, he and Paddy Daly (qv) led a small group of Fianna scouts and Volunteers to capture the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park. After this, he fought in the Four Courts area with the 1st Bn, Irish Volunteers, under Edward Daly (qv). On Easter Tuesday, while advancing on Broadstone station, he was shot in the chest, the bullet piercing his lung. He was brought to the Richmond hospital and later escaped in a daring ruse with the help of surgeon Sir Thomas Myles (qv), thus avoiding being imprisoned.
While in hiding after the rising, he attended a meeting convened to reorganise the Fianna at which he was appointed chief of staff, a position he held until 1920. In December 1916 he left for the USA and reported to John Devoy (qv) of Clan na Gael on arrival. He gave many talks and lectures at Clan meetings across the US, and with his close friend Liam Mellows (qv) was very successful in raising funds for the republican cause. He also briefly worked for the Gaelic American newspaper.
Martin returned from the US in early 1917 to take over command of the Fianna and the IRB Fianna circle. On his arrival in Ireland he reported to Michael Collins (qv) and passed on information of a plan to land arms off the coast of Wexford, which ultimately failed owing to the arrest of Mellows in New York. Over the following years Martin worked closely with Collins on the training of Fianna scouts, their transfer to full Volunteer membership, and on other Fianna, Volunteer and IRB matters. He became a member of the six-man IRA/Fianna Éireann army composite council, which was formed in September 1920, composed of members of Volunteers GHQ and Fianna GHQ.
During the war of independence, Martin became a judge in the Dáil Éireann district courts established to counter the British judicial system. Representing Sinn Féin, he was chairman of Rathdown Rural District Council (1920) and a member of Dublin County Council (1920). In late 1920, a raid at an underground Fianna Éireann office uncovered evidence of the roles of Martin and Countess Markievicz (qv) in directing the Fianna organisation. Markievicz was arrested, brought to trial, and sentenced to two years' hard labour; Martin left for Europe. He travelled first to Germany to buy arms and later to England on dáil business. Early in 1921 he went to Moscow for several months and assisted Dr Patrick McCartan (qv), who was negotiating there for recognition of Irish independence. Along with McCartan he held a meeting with the Soviet Russian foreign minister, Georgy Chicherin, and he also briefly met both Lenin and Trotsky.
On his return to Ireland in about April 1921, he resumed his close working relationship with Liam Mellows, acting as his assistant in the IRA's department of purchases. A popular figure in republican circles, he was best man at the weddings of Roddy Connolly (qv) on 30 July 1921 and of Robert Briscoe (qv) at about the same time. He represented Na Fianna Éireann at the IRA convention held in the Mansion House in March 1922. Taking the anti-treaty side during the civil war, he was arrested during the battle of Dublin and sent to Mountjoy jail. While there, he developed a position of neutrality and used his contacts to try to bring an end to hostilities. He shared a cell with Mellows, his closest friend in the movement, until Mellows's execution on 8 December 1922. In his formative years, Martin was a keen student of Connolly, Marx and other philosophical writers, and was credited by many commentators, including Peadar O'Donnell (qv), as being the main influence behind Mellows's social thinking.
Martin briefly became involved with politics once more, when appointed on 24 January 1926 as vice-chairman of the newly established and short-lived political party Clann Éireann, founded by Professor William Magennis (qv). He left before the 1927 general election, in which the party failed to win any seats; it disbanded soon afterwards. Martin worked as director of sales at the Irish Hospitals Sweepstake, from its inception in 1930 until his retirement in the 1960s.
In July 1927 he was one of the organisers of Markievicz's funeral, and he became active in the republican commemoration scene and in striving to achieve post-civil-war reconciliation. He was one of the initiators in the 1940s of the 1916–21 Club, established to bring together former comrades and heal civil-war divisions, and was one of its first presidents. In 1942 he unveiled a commemorative plaque in honour of his old comrade on the renamed Liam Mellows Bridge across the River Liffey. He was a member of the Michael Collins Memorial Committee and a trustee of Kilmainham Gaol Restoration Society. President of the Old Fianna Association for many years, on the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of Na Fianna Éireann in 1959, he was made patron of the golden jubilee committee, and on 9 May 1960 was presented with a specially made Fianna golden jubilee gold medal at an official ceremony in Dublin in honour of his services to Ireland and to the Fianna. In 1965 he was appointed by Taoiseach Seán Lemass (qv) to the organising committee for the Easter rising's fiftieth anniversary. He was also chairman of the Wolfe Tone Memorial Committee and, on 18 November 1967, along with President Éamon de Valera (qv), unveiled the monument to Wolfe Tone at St Stephen's Green in Dublin. During the 1940s–60s, he gave many lectures around Ireland, the UK and the US, and regularly spoke on radio and television on the parts played by the Irish Volunteers, and particularly the Fianna scouts, in the independence movement.
Martin became involved in the literary world, and provided funds to help set up the Irish Democrat newspaper in London. He also helped establish the renowned literary and cultural magazine The Bell and served on its editorial board, alongside Sean O'Faolain (qv), Peadar O'Donnell, Róisín Walsh (qv), Frank O'Connor (qv) and Maurice Walsh (qv). Despite being a non-believer, he was respectful of all religions and was associated with many religious personalities and causes throughout his life. He was a close friend of Father Albert Bibby (qv) of the Capuchin order, was honorary secretary of the Archbishop Mannix Golden Jubilee Commemoration Committee, and in 1962 had a private audience with Pope John XXIII, in the company of renowned American priest Monsignor Maurice S. Sheehy.
Martin died 11 May 1971 in London (probably after visiting his daughter who lived in Leicester), and was buried at Dean's Grange cemetery in Dublin. On 27 July 1918 he had married Mary Elizabeth (Mairin) O'Brien (d. 1945), a protestant from Sandymount, Dublin, with whom he had two daughters. He was the subject of a bronze bust by Arthur J. Breen, sculptor, and a portrait by Italian painter Gaetano de Gennaro (both in private family collections). His papers are in the NLI.