Prison rock helped preserve skeleton of 1916 patriot Thomas Kent
A ROCK outcrop helped almost perfectly preserve the skeleton of an Irish patriot who will receive a State funeral nearly 100 years after he was executed by British forces.
Thomas Kent (51) was executed by British forces in Easter 1916 in Cork Prison and then buried in the prison yard despite appeals from his family for his body to be returned to them.
Lime was also scattered over his remains during the prison burial.
He was one of only two Easter Rising rebels to be executed outside Dublin. Roger Casement was hanged in London.
However, because of a rock outcrop just over two metres below the Cork Prison yard surface, Mr Kent's skeleton was inadvertently protected and kept intact.
It discouraged construction at the site and counteracted the effects of the lime meaning his skeleton was remarkably well preserved when finally located and exhumed last June.
Mr Kent will now be honoured with a full State funeral on September 18.
His family, who still live in the Castlelyons area of north Cork, insisted he be buried beside his brothers William, Richard and David rather than in Glasnevin like other rebel heroes.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the honour of a State funeral was the least owing to Thomas Kent who was one of 16 men executed for their role in the 1916 rising.
"Thomas Kent was one of many young men who, in pursuit of the goal of Irish freedom, paid the ultimate sacrifice," he said.
Thomas Kent was executed after a gun battle at the Kent family's farmhouse at Bawnard, Castlelyons when RIC officers and British Army personnel raided the property.
The Kent brothers, veterans of the Lang League campaign, had been waiting in vain for orders to mobilise to support the Dublin volunteers with a Cork rising.
They refused to surrender to the RIC and a four-hour gun battle ensued. Thomas' brother, David, was badly wounded and his brother, Richard, was shot and killed as he tried to escape.