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This forgotten patriot is getting a state funeral nearly a century after his execution

Thomas Kent was one of 16 people executed in the aftermath of the Easter Rising.

Thomas Kent
Thomas Kent

THE GOVERNMENT WILL give a state funeral to one of the men who was executed following the 1916 Easter Rising after DNA tests confirmed the identity of Thomas Kent.

Kent was an Irish nationalist who was one of 16 men executed by authorities in the wake of the failed uprising which will be extensively commemorated next year.

Often referred to as the “forgotten patriot” he was one of only two men executed outside of Dublin, the other being Roger Casement who was hanged in London. Kent also lends his name to Cork City’s train station.

The state funeral will take place in Castlelyons, north Cork on Friday 18 September after Kent’s family accepted an offer from Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

This resulted in remains being exhumed and undergoing extensive DNA analysis in order to confirm they were those of Thomas Kent.

“Thomas Kent was one of many young men who, in pursuit of the goal of Irish freedom, paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Kenny said in a statement today.

Kent and his brothers were among the nationalists who stayed at home after the Irish Volunteers leader Eoin MacNeill infamously countermanded orders to stage a Rising on Easter Sunday 1916 before it eventually went ahead on the Monday.

The Royal Irish Constabulary was dispatched to arrest Rising sympathisers and raided the Kent family home on 2 May 1916.

Despite fierce resistance from the family Thomas and his brother Willian were arrested while another brother, Richard, was wounded trying to escape and died shortly after.

Death sentence

Thomas and William were tried by courts-martial at Cork Detention Barracks. While William was acquitted Thomas, who was not married, was sentenced to death and was executed on 9 May 1916. He was 51. 

His remains were buried on the grounds of Cork Prison where they were exhumed in June of this year as part of a project undertaken by the National Monuments Service, with assistance from the Irish Prison Service and the State Pathologist’s Office.

Given the passage of time and the lack of formal records, DNA testing was needed to confirm his the identity of the remains with the complex process involving the State Pathologist’s Office, the National Forensic Coordination Office at the Garda Technical Bureau, Forensic Science Ireland and the UCD Science Faculty.

The Taoiseach added that the funeral “will ensure that Thomas Kent is never again described as a forgotten leader of 1916″.

Most importantly from his family’s viewpoint however, his re-interment will ensure that he will finally be at rest with his brothers and other family members in Castlelyons.

Local Labour TD and junior minister Sean Sherlock said the holding of a state funeral is a fitting tribute to Kent’s sacrifice.

“Thomas Kent has a special place in the hearts and minds of all those from Castlyons and Cork and this is very welcome news for his family and all those who work to keep the Kent legacy alive locally,” he said.

Read: Incredible photographs show devastating impact of the Rising

Read: Secret police files of Republican activity in Dublin in 1916 now online

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About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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