herald

Wednesday 16 August 2017

1916 rebel may be exhumed and reburied

Mayor Chris O'Leary
Mayor Chris O'Leary

AN EXHUMATION licence is being sought to allow the "Forgotten Rebel" of the 1916 Easter Rising be honoured with a Christian burial in his family plot.

Thomas Kent (51) was executed and buried in the yard of Cork Prison for his role in the failed rising on May 9, 1916.

The armed clash with Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) members outside Castlelyons in north Cork was the only attempted rising outside Dublin in 1916.

Kent (inset) was buried in the prison yard by the British authorities, only metres from his execution site, despite the protests of his family.

However, the precise location of Kent's grave has been forgotten over the decades, though a plaque on the prison wall commemorates him.

Now, the Herald has confirmed that a third-party application has been made for an exhumation of the rebel's remains from Cork Prison yard.

Incoming Lord Mayor Chris O'Leary, Cork's first Sinn Fein mayor in more than 90 years, is supporting the campaign to properly honour Kent.

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) said that no building work has been done at the reputed site of the burial and is aware of the exhumation application.

"The IPS is not a party to such an (exhumation) application and has no information as to whether such a request for a licence has been or will be granted," a spokesperson said.

"A memorial plaque and grave surround marks the reputed location of the burial place of Thomas Kent within the grounds of Cork Prison.

"Any suggestion that his burial place has been built over is anecdotal.

"The works on the construction of the new prison have no impact whatsoever on the site of the existing facility and, accordingly, the remains of Thomas Kent have not been found in the course of any works.

"While Kent was a significant figure in terms of Irish history, the potential recovery, exhumation and re-interment of his remains if undertaken in the future will be carried out with the confidentiality, sensitivity and respect that is traditionally afforded to any grieving family."

The Kent family, historians and the Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen including campaigner Tomas O'Siochain want Kent's remains to be located, exhumed and re-interred with full honours in a family plot.

Kent was the only rebel outside Dublin, along with Roger Casement, to be executed for his role in the Easter Rising.

He was executed following a four-hour gun battle at the Kent family's farmhouse at Bawnard, Castlelyons with RIC officers and British soldiers.

hnews@herald.ie

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