One of the rebels who was executed in the aftermath of the Easter Rising finally received a State funeral nearly one hundred years after his death.
Thomas Kent is often referred to as the ‘forgotten patriot’. He was one of 16 Irish nationalists sentenced to death in the days following the failed rebellion. He was executed by firing squad at Cork prison on 9th May 1916. Almost a century later, his remains were exhumed and he was given a State funeral on 18 September 2015 – after his family accepted an offer from Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
Kent was a Cork man and a member of the Irish Volunteers. He was prepared to take part in the Easter Rising, but stayed in Cork after receiving a message that the Rising was not to take place.
It did take place and after the British Army had forced the surrender of the rebels, the order was given for the RIC to seek out and arrest known members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Irish Volunteers and Sinn Féin.
Kent’s house was raided by the RIC
On 2nd May Kent’s house which he shared with his three brothers, David, William and Richard, was raided by the RIC. A gunfight ensued and Kent fired a shot that killed RIC policeman William N. Rowe. David Kent was seriously injured and eventually the brothers were forced to surrender. Richard Kent attempted to flee and was shot dead by the RIC.
Thomas and William Kent were charged with armed rebellion. William was acquitted but Thomas was sentenced to death.
He was executed and buried at Cork Prison, making him one of only two men executed outside Dublin following the Easter Rising, the other being Roger Casement who was hanged in London.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “Thomas Kent was one of many young men who, in pursuit of the goal of Irish freedom, paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
Earlier in 2015, Kent’s remains were exhumed and identified following DNA tests.
The State funeral took place on 18th September 2015. Kent’s remains were moved to the family plot in north Cork.