Cornelius “Con” Colbert (1888-1916)

Colbert, born in Limerick in 1888, was a founding member of Na Fianna Eireann. He attended the inaugural Fianna meeting on August 16th 1909 in 34 Lower Camden Street and was subsequently elected to the first official Fianna committee shortly after its foundation.

Colbert was one of the first drill instructors of the Fianna, along with Eamon Martin and Michael Lonergan. He was also a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and became ‘centre’ of the exclusive Fianna-IRB circle. Colbert was responsible for inducting many future prominent Irish revolutionaries into the IRB; some of those included Liam Mellows and Garry Holahan. He also introduced many of the pupils from Pearse’s St. Enda’s school to the Fianna and the IRB.

He was the first Captain of the original Fianna ‘An Cead Sluagh’ in Camden Street and later became Captain of the Rathmines branch. Upon the formation of the Irish Volunteers in 1913, Colbert was appointed to its ‘Provisional Committee’ and later to the Volunteer Executive. He was also one of the first drill instructors for the Volunteers in its early days. Colbert became Captain of ‘F’ Company in the 4th Battalion of the Irish Volunteers.

Despite being heavily involved with the Irish Volunteers from 1913 onwards, Colbert remained a central figure within the Fianna organization until 1915, when he resigned to dedicate himself fully to the Volunteers. However, he retained his links to the Fianna through the Fianna-IRB circle, where he remained ‘centre’.

During Easter Week, Colbert was in charge of a unit of men tasked with occupying Watkin’s Brewery, he later moved his men to Marrowbone Lane where they remained until the end of the week.

Following the surrender he was tried by court-martial and sentenced to death. He was executed on May 8th 1916. He was twenty seven years old.

*Photo courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

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