A State funeral is to be held for 1916 Rising hero Thomas Kent -- one of only two rebels executed by the British outside of Dublin -- after DNA testing confirmed that remains found in Cork Prison belong to him.
Thomas Kent was one of four brothers who resisted arrest when members of the RIC police (Royal Irish Constabulary) came to their home at Castlelyons in east County Cork as part of a round-up of prominent nationalists around the country.
The RIC action took place after the Easter Rising began in Dublin and when the RIC party arrived at the Kent home to arrest the brothers, a gunfight broke out.
During the battle, which lasted four hours, one RIC man was killed and David Kent was seriously wounded before the brothers were forced to surrender.
Another brother, Richard, tried to make a dash for freedom but was mortally wounded. Thomas and William Kent were arrested and brought to Victoria Barracks in Cork.
Both were tried by court martial on a charge of armed rebellion and although William was acquitted, Thomas was found guilty and executed by firing squad on May 9th, 1916.
Apart from Roger Casement - who was hanged in Pentonville Prison in London - Thomas Kent is the only person to have been executed outside of Dublin for his role in the events of Easter Week.
Kent’s remains were buried in the ground of the Military Detention Barracks - now Cork Prison - at the rear of Victoria Barracks, which is now Collins Barracks in Cork.
Kent’s remains were found during an archaeological dig in June in a spot near where he was long believed to have been buried. His remains were exhumed in an investigation led by the 26 County National Monuments Service.
A DNA test was carried out on the remains, involving the State Pathologist’s Office, the Garda Technical Bureau and the UCD Science Faculty, which confirmed they were those of Thomas Kent.
The State funeral of will be shown live on RTE television later this month.
Full military honours will be provided at the funeral which starts at 1.45pm on Friday, September 18, at St Nicholas Church in Castlelyons near Fermoy, County Cork.
The reburial of his remains will include a military firing party, and the playing of the Last Post, the Reveille, and the National Anthem. Cork Prison Officers Choir and a 26-County Army band will provide accompanying music during the ceremonies.
On the evening before, after a private sitting for Kent’s relatives, a 6pm prayer service in the chapel of Collins Barracks in Cork city will be held. The public are welcome to attend.
The state funeral will take place from Cork Prison (the former British Army Victoria Barracks, where Kent was executed) to the family plot in Castlelyons in north Cork on 18 September.
Cork Mayor Chris O’Leary welcomed the move. “Coming from a family with a rich history of confronting injustice, Kent worked tirelessly for the cause of freedom as an organiser of the Irish Volunteers,” he said.
He said it would be appropriate to finally mark the site of what was an unmarked grave of someone who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and his people. “I hope that the funeral will bring a level of comfort to the Kent family to match their undoubted and justified pride.”