De Siúnta, Earnán (Ernest Edwin Joynt) (1874–1949), engineer and Irish-language enthusiast, was born Ernest Edwin Joynt, 11 November 1874, at the family residence in Knox St., Ballina, Co. Mayo, only son among four children of Richard Watson Joynt, editor of the Ballina Herald newspaper and Charlotte Joynt (née Soresby), daughter of the presbyterian minister at Kilrush, Co. Clare. Ernest was raised a methodist (although the family had been of French catholic ancestry) and educated locally until sent in the late 1880s to Methodist College (‘Methody’), Belfast. From an early age he was interested in the Irish language and national culture, an uncommon choice given his background and education, but predating the sectarian polarisation of Irish intellectual identity. His cousin Maud Joynt (qv), who also attended Methody, shared his Gaelic and international linguistic interests. When the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge) was formed in 1893, Ernest, adopting his Gaelic name Earnán, was an early committee member and close friend of its founder Douglas Hyde (qv). He frequently contributed to the League's journal An Claidheamh Soluis (est. 1899) and similar periodicals under the pen name ‘An Buachaillín Buidhe’. His literary interests were as wide-ranging as his early travel, which in 1896 had brought him to Russia, and he was proficient in French and classical Greek and Latin, from which he later translated into Irish. He knew Louis le Roux, Breton nationalist biographer of P. H. Pearse (qv).
Known both by his English and Irish names, de Siúnta established himself in Dublin before 1900, joining the Great Southern & Western Railway at its Inchicore works, where he had become chief draughtsman by the time he left in 1919. Meanwhile, he distinguished himself as an Irish scholar and diarist, notably in his series Féilire na Gaedhilge (1904–11), an almanac of annual events and rising personalities in the language movement. He thus corresponded with future key figures of the revolutionary movement, including Pearse, but he had no significant involvement in the political events of 1916–22. In 1919, after teaching part-time at Bolton St. College of Technology, he left Inchicore to join the College's permanent engineering staff and retired as principal in 1942. He was both a member of the London-based Institute of Mechanical Engineers and for some years president of the Engineering and Scientific Association of Ireland.
De Siúnta pursued his literary interests throughout, occupying executive positions in the Gaelic League from the mid 1920s: president of An Fáinne (1925–7) and vice-president of the ard-chraobh (central committee) from 1929 until his death. He was also vice-president of the League's junior executive, Coiste na bPáiste. His own work included short stories, an Irish translation (1929) of John Bunyan's classic The pilgrim's progress and a French text, Histoire de l'Irlande des origines à l'État Libre (1935). His Airgead Beo (1944) retold Greek mythological tales in Irish. He translated the New Testament into Irish, of which the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles were published in his lifetime, the remainder posthumously in 1951 by the Hibernian Bible Society. He died suddenly at his home, An Bun Beag, 42 Gilford Park, Sandymount, Dublin, 18 October 1949, having presented the Douglas Hyde prize at the League's Oireachtas three days earlier. He was buried in Mount Jerome cemetery.
Earnán de Siúnta married first Ethel Bray (who left to remarry in the USA), by whom he had a son and a daughter. He married secondly Frances Young; they had one daughter.
More information on this entry is available at the National Database of Irish-language biographies (Ainm.ie).