10 May 2006

Executed 1916 hero remembered on anniversary

Irish Examiner

By Eoin English
10 May 2006

See also Wikipedia

A NEPHEW of executed 1916 hero Thomas Kent stepped behind the walls of Cork Prison yesterday to lay a wreath on his uncle’s grave — 90 years to the day after his death.

Thomas Kent from Bawnard, Castlelyons, Fermoy, Co Cork, who was named after his late uncle, said he was very touched by the poignant ceremony.

“They put in a great effort here today. We are delighted. I am here with two sisters and a nephew. We come every year but this is special,” he said.

Minister of State Michael Ahern, who attended the ceremony, called on the British government to express regret for the execution of Kent.

Considering the information that is coming forth now, it’s timely that we have some statement from the British government expressing regret at the murdering of Thomas Kent back in 1916, he said.

Mr Ahern said he was speaking personally and said he planned to discuss the matter with the Minister for Defence.

The British Embassy declined to comment last night.

Three generations of Kent family members, Lord Mayor Deirdre Clune and members the Organisation of National Ex-Service Men and Women were escorted into the prison grounds yesterday by senior army officers for the intimate and emotional ceremony.

Just inside the perimeter wall on which Kent’s headstone is inset, they watched as Mr Kent laid a wreath on his uncle’s grave.

The 51-year-old, who was leader of the Cork Brigade of Irish Volunteers, is buried just a few hundred yards from where he was shot by firing squad at dawn on May 9, 1916.

Padraig O’Callaghan, General Officer Commanding of the First Southern Brigade, said members of the Irish defence forces were very proud of Thomas Kent.

“We in Collins Barracks are the successors to the Cork Brigade of Volunteers,” he said.

“We wear their insignia on our uniform every day of every year. We are proud of the values and tradition which we hold in trust for future generations. We too are proud of Thomas Kent.

“Had he lived, it is perfectly reasonable to suggest he would have stood proudly alongside MacCurtain and MacSwiney as the process of reorganisation got underway in 1917 — and thereafter, anything might have been possible.

“In that context, his execution was much more than just another casualty statistic from Easter 1916. It was, in fact, an unquantifiable tragedy.”

After the ceremony, the delegation moved back to nearby Collins Barracks.

The Lord Mayor’s flag, which normally flies over City Hall, flew over the barracks for the first time.

Ms Clune inspected a guard of honour drawn from some 200 soldiers, many of whom will serve on UN peacekeeping duty in Kosovo later this year. She then laid a wreath in memory of Kent, and in memory of all Irish soldiers who have lost their life while on duty on home or abroad.

Meanwhile, copies of Kent’s court martial documents, and a small portrait of him, were later unveiled at the barracks’ museum.

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