Tears welled in the eyes of Thomas Kent’s three elderly nieces as they were told DNA tests confirmed remains found in Cork prison were those of the patriot executed by the British in 1916.
The news had been broken to nieces Eily, 93, Kathleen, 84, and Prudence, 81, by the latter’s son, Michael Riordan.
The owner of Riordan’s SuperValu in Fermoy said it was a pity that his uncle, also called Thomas Kent, had died aged 85, missing out on a planned State funeral for the Republican hero.
Plans will be finalised for the funeral on August 24 when family members meet representatives from the Department of the Taoiseach.
However, Mr Riordan revealed that Thomas Kent’s remains will lie in state on September 17 at Collins Barracks in Cork where the public will be able to pay their respects.
The following day, the remains will be removed by hearse to his native Castlelyons where a requiem mass will take place.
Afterwards, the remains will be interred in the adjoining cemetery in the family vault, joining Mr Kent’s brothers, William, Richard, and David, who all fought in the same action against the British on May 2, 1916.
RIC officer Head Constable William Rowe was killed in the skirmish and David Kent was seriously wounded. Richard Kent had made a last-minute dash for freedom and was fatally wounded.
Thomas Kent was executed in Cork prison seven days later and was the only person, along with Roger Casement, to be executed outside of Dublin following the Rising.
Mr Riordan said there had been so many rumours surrounding Kent’s resting place that no one was 100% sure about the remains until the DNA tests had been concluded last week.
“They [the nieces] were sad and happy,” Mr Riordan said. “There were tears when I told them, mixed emotions. But they are relieved and Thomas Kent will now get the respect he should have been given many years ago.”
He credited Seán Sherwin for helping the family. “He was invaluable, he knew who to talk to,” said Mr Riordan.
Mr Sherwin was responsible for exhuming the bodies of the Forgotten 10, also known as the Mountjoy 10.
Kevin Barry, Patrick Moran, Frank Flood, Thomas Whelan, Thomas Traynor, Patrick Doyle, Thomas Bryan, Bernard Ryan, Edmond Foley, and Patrick Maher had all been executed in Mountjoy Prison following court martials in the period 1920 to 1921.
The Kent relations have declined the use of a gun carriage to carry his body to his final resting place. The remains are currently at the mortuary at Cork University Hospital.
The family are, however, expected to agree to all the other trappings associated with a military funeral, including soldiers firing a three volley salute as a mark of respect. The army will play a crucial role, including providing a guard of honour and a military band.
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