Thomas Kent Commemoration Held in Rostellan

Article By Seamus Whelehan, Photos by Rory O'Toole

James and Noah Higgins,Robbie Rutladge, Liam Hegarty, Neillus Foley, Nancy Cuddigan and Claire Leahy.

An event honouring the memory of Thomas Kent, the forgotten patriot, and those who fought for Independence locally, has taken place in Rostellan.  Eugene Higgins, the son of Captain Paddy Higgins, one of the survivors of the Clonmult massacre in 1921, was in attendance at the Commemoration.  Wreaths were laid in memory of Thomas Kent, Denis Kelly, The Clonmult IRA Volunteers, Dr. Padraig O’Sullivan, members of ‘L’ Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Cork Brigade and Cumann na mBan.

Local historian Charlie Hayes, in his oration, examined the partition of Ireland in 1920 as a British Government gambit to minimise and manage Britain's imminent losses in Ireland following Sinn Féin's landslide victory in the General Election of 1918.  He discussed the economic chaos which this artificial border could cause in the event of a no-deal or 'hard' Brexit. Finally, he proposed that now might be the time for people of all traditions on this island to unite and work together for the good of all its inhabitants.

Born in Bawnard House, Castlelyons near Fermoy on the 29 August 1865, Kent was one of only two 1916 rebels executed outside of Dublin, along with Roger Casement.   Thomas Kent’s brothers, David and William, both served in succession as TD’s for the East Cork Westminster constituency.    The constituency comprised the eastern part of County Cork, consisting of the Barony of Imokilly and that part of the Barony of Barrymore not contained within the North East Cork constituency. The East Cork District ran from 1885 to 1922.

Executed by firing squad on 9 May 1916 for his involvement in a gun battle between members of the Royal Irish Constabulary and British soldiers, Thomas Kent’s remains were buried in the grounds of Cork prison, just meters from where he was killed.

The exact location of his body was unknown until recently. For years campaigners had tried to obtain information from the British Government as to the exact spot where he was buried.

Kent’s remains were found during an excavation in the grounds of Cork Prison, carried out by archaeologists from the National Monuments Service in June 2015.

DNA tests confirmed the remains to have been those of Thomas Kent.

Information on the Kent remains was not due to be released by the British Government until after the Centenary Commemorations of the Easter Rising in 2016.

Special tributes were paid to the late Paul Flanagan and Paudgie O‘Keeffe and thanks were extended to the Rostellan Development Association, together with John Rice, Paudie Deady and Paul Cashman, for the upkeep of this wonderful park. James Walsh also thanked Ray Murphy and Ursula Ennis. Special thanks were afforded to Austin and Connie Brosnan for the excellent sound system, which allowed the large number of people gathered to enjoy fully the day's events.

The raising of the Tri-colour was carried out by Eugene Higgins, led by the Castlelyons Pipe Band.

Raising the flag to start the commemoration.
Cian Fitzgerald and Lulu O'Riordan.
Nancy Cuddigan lays a wreath.
Nancy Cuddigan, Claire Leahy, Colm Leahy and Pat O'Neill.
Órlaith Tierney (related to Thomas Kent).
Barry Murphy, Liam Kenny and Ger Broderick (Castlelyons Pipe Band).
Robbie Rutladge lays a wreath.
Neillus Foley lays a wreath.
Claire Leahy lays a wreath.
Liam Hegarty lays a wreath.
Lulu O'Riordan and Jade Fitzgerald.
James and Noah Higgins lay a wreath.