One of the largest bridges over the River Blackwater in Co Cork is set to be renamed after the only man executed outside of Dublin following the 1916 Rising.
An iconic picture exists of Thomas Kent walking over the bridge in Fermoy escorted by armed British troops after being captured following a gun battle with the RIC in the nearby village of Castlelyons.
Ironically, according to his grand nephew, Eamonn Walsh, the bridge was actually built the same year Kent was born.
A delegation from the Castlelyons 1916 Commemoration Committee, including Mr Walsh, has put a case to local councillors to have the bridge officially named in Kent’s honour.
The remains of a body were recently exhumed from Cork prison where Kent was executed and despite awaiting DNA tests it is widely believed they are his.
If proven so, which could take another couple of weeks, he will receive a State funeral and will be buried in the family plot in Castlelyons.
Councillors from the Fermoy Municipal District have backed the naming of the bridge, which is expected to be rubberstamped by the full council in due course and the National Roads Authority. That is expected to be a mere formality.
Dick Mackessy, who is a member of the lobby group, told councillors Thomas Kent and his brother, William, were later transported to Cork by train and the railway station in the city is already named after him.
“We seek to commemorate Tom Kent our oft forgotten national patriot. We consider it an appropriate time to reflect on that time when he was prominent in the national movement that was widespread in the greater Fermoy area while he was Commandant of the Galtee Rangers up to his execution in 1916,” Mr Mackessy said.
“In 1913, he co-founded the Castlelyons branch of the Irish Volunteers, said to be the first teetotal branch of the organisation in Ireland. He worked closely with Terence MacSwiney in recruiting and organising members in the surrounding areas in his role of Commandant of the Galtee Rangers.”
The Kent brothers were supposed to take part in the Rising but got orders to stand down in their area. But within hours six RIC men arrived at their home at Bawnard House and a three-hour gun battle ensued, during which their mother loaded their weapons.
RIC Head Constable William Rowe was shot and died at the scene. David Kent suffered serious injuries also, losing two fingers and receiving a gaping wound to his side.
After surrendering, Richard Kent saw an opportunity to escape. He was shot and seriously wounded.
Thomas and William were marched into Fermoy. A horse-drawn cart followed carrying their wounded brothers David and Richard.
On May 9, 1916, Kent was executed and buried in the grounds of Cork Prison. His brother, David, was also sentenced to death but had this overturned. William was acquitted of all charges and released, while Richard died days later from his gunshot wound.
Councillors said it was totally appropriate that Kent be honoured in this fashion.
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