Centenary of execution of Thomas Kent in 1916 marked
Family members lay wreaths where Kent shot following court martial for armed rebellion
Members of the Defence forces fold the Tricolour over the coffin bearing the remains of Thomas Kent at St Nicholas’s Church, Castlelyons, Co Cork, during his State funeral and reinterment last year. He was executed 100 years ago today. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times
The family of Easter 1916 hero Thomas Kent have spoken of their pride in their forebear’s sacrifice as they remembered him at a special commemoration in the former Cork Military Detention Barracks where he was executed 100 years ago today.
Kent’s nieces, Kathleen Kent and Prudence Riordan, were among the many relatives and dignitaries to attend the ceremony organised by the Defence Forces at the spot where Kent was executed by firing squad on May 9th, 1916, following his court martial for armed rebellion.
“It means a lot to have this ceremony here today and to have Uncle Tom’s sacrifice recognised, and we are so grateful to everyone involved in organising it - especially the Army,” said Ms Kent (86) who, assisted by her niece Nora Riordan, laid a wreath at the spot where her uncle was executed.
Ms Kent’s sister, Prudence Riordan (81) also spoke of her pride in her uncles, Tom, David and Richard as well as their own father, William, who resisted attempts by the RIC to arrest them at their home in Castlelyons during a round-up of prominent nationalists in the wake of the Easter Rising.
“We are all terribly proud of what Uncle Tom and his brothers did - it was very sad for them - they made terrible sacrifices,” said Ms Riordan who was accompanied to the ceremony in what is now Cork Prison by her daughter Nora and her son Michael.
One of only two men to be executed outside of Dublin after the Rising, Thomas Kent’s remains lay buried in the yard at the Cork Military Detention Barracks until he was reinterred last September at the family vault at Castlelyons after a State funeral.
Nora Riordan said: “Today marks the end of a memorable year for the family - it’s been an emotional journey for us, with Thomas’s remains now finally resting in the family vault in Castlelyons - we have been humbled by all these events and we are very glad to attend today’s ceremony.
“It’s great that all of this has happened in the lifetimes of both my aunt and my mother, because it was only a generation away from them and it would have been very much part of their lives growing up in Bawnard in Castlelyons that a member of the family had lost his life in this way.”
Laying a wreath at the spot where Thomas Kent had lain buried for 99 years until his reinterment in Castlelyons, Minister of State at the Department of Defence Paul Kehoe paid tribute to Thomas Kent and his brothers, William, Richard and David, for their sacrifice to free Ireland.
“Thomas Kent believed in the ideals described in the Proclamation of Independence which declared the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland ... it is important that we come together today to remember him and reflect on his life and honour his memory,” he said.
A guard of honour was provided by members of the First Brigade under the command of Lt James McKeon, while Lt Cian Clancy read the excerpts from a number of documents from Kent’s trial including the charge, his plea of not guilty, the verdict and the sentence handed down.
Following a minute’s silence, lone piper Sgt Noel McCarthy played Mo Gile Mear before the Military Band conducted by Capt Brian Prendergast played The Last Post and Lt Conor Dunne raised the National Flag. The band then played The Reveille and the ceremony concluded with the National Anthem.
Among those present were Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Rear Admiral Mark Mellet, General Officer Commanding First Brigade, Brig General Philip Brennan, and Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service, Commodore Hugh Tully.