The Government has confirmed the remains exhumed at Cork Prison last June were those of Republican Thomas Kent, who was executed in the aftermath of the 1916 Rising, clearing the way for a State funeral.
Mr Kent was due to take part in the Rising but received orders to stand down. Despite this, RIC officers raided Mr Kent’s home in Castlelyons, Co Cork, on May 2, 1916, with a view to arresting the Republican sympathiser.
A gunfight ensued, after which both he and his brother William were arrested. Both were tried by courts-martial at Cork Detention Barracks. William was acquitted, but Thomas was sentenced to death and executed on May 9.
Kent, after whom Cork’s train station is named, was not afforded a proper burial and his body lay in an unmarked grave in Cork prison until earlier this summer when his remains were exhumed following an operation by the National Monuments Service, the Irish Prison Service and State Pathologist’s Office.
A complex DNA testing process involving the State Pathologist’s Office, the National Forensic Co-ordination Office at the Garda Technical Bureau, Forensic Science Ireland and the UCD Science Faculty has confirmed that the remains exhumed in Cork Prison are those of Thomas Kent.
Earlier this year, ThomasKent’s family accepted the offer of a State funeral from Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and yesterday the Government confirmed the ceremony will take place on September 18 in Castlelyons, near Fermoy.
“The Government is very glad to offer this honour of a State funeral in memory of the sacrifice of the late Thomas Kent. Thomas Kent was one of many young men who, in pursuit of the goal of Irish freedom, paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Mr Kenny said.
Mr Kenny said the event “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,” he said.
Cork East TD and Minister of State Seán Sherlock welcomed the news. “It is appropriate that we honour the memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of Irish freedom,” he said.
“It is fitting for a State funeral to take place not just to mark Thomas Kent’s actions but also to allow him to rest in peace amongst his own. 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.”
In May 1916, an iconic photograph was taken of Kent and his brother being led across the bridge in Fermoy by British soldiers after their arrest.
The bridge is to be named in his honour to coincide with the centenary of the Rising.
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