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Ceremonial guard for executed rebel Thomas Kent's remains ahead of state funeral

Published 17/09/2015

A relative touches the coffin carrying the remains of prominent republican Thomas Kent in St Michael's Garrison Church, Collins Barracks, Cork
A relative touches the coffin carrying the remains of prominent republican Thomas Kent in St Michael's Garrison Church, Collins Barracks, Cork

Executed rebel Thomas Kent has lain in state on the eve of a state funeral commemorating his death in Ireland's fight for freedom.

The remains of the prominent republican , regarded in some quarters as an unsung hero, were brought to Collins Barracks in Cork for family prayers and for members of the public to pay their respects.

He will be re-interred tomorrow in a family plot after full honours are bestowed on him at a service in St Nicholas's Church in Castlelyons.

Among descendants attending the commemorations over the two days are Kent's nieces Prudence Riordan and Kathleen Kent and grand-nephews Mike Riordan, John and Liam Kent and Eamon, Tom and Sean Walsh and grand-niece Nora Riordan.

Defence Forces Chaplain Fr Gerry O'Neill led the prayers at St Michael's Garrison Church, Collins Barracks, where the remains will lie overnight with a ceremonial guard from the Army, Navy and Air Corps.

The coffin will be removed from the army base on Friday with military accompaniment to Cork Prison, where Kent was buried for almost 100 years, and where a private and formal removal service will take place after midday.

The route for the cortege will see it pass Kent Station in Cork city, named in honour of the executed rebel.

Several thousand people are expected to visit the barracks, line roads and travel to Castlelyons to witness various parts of the ceremonies.

The funeral Mass will be celebrated by Bishop of Cloyne William Crean, local parish priest Father Gerard Coleman, with Chaplain Fr O'Neill and Fr Michael Kidney from Cork Prison also taking part.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who previously described Kent as giving the "ultimate sacrifice", will deliver a graveside oration as the remains are re-interred.

It will be marked with the full trappings of a State funeral which include a military firing party rendering honours, the Last Post, the Reveille, and Amhran na bhFiann.

Kent was born in Castlelyons in 1865 and spent some time in America before returning and becoming involved in the Gaelic League and the Irish Volunteers.

He did not travel to Dublin or take part in armed action in Easter week 1916, after Eoin MacNeill gave a countermanding order.

But being a known republican and having been jailed several times for activism, Royal Irish Constabulary officers attempted to arrest him and three brothers a week later at their home Bawnard House, Castlelyons, east Cork, in a round-up of nationalist agitators.

Kent and his family launched a fire-fight which lasted several hours leaving one constable and a brother dead.

After a court martial for armed rebellion, Kent was sentenced to death by firing squad on May 9 1916.

Along with Roger Casement, who was hanged in Pentonville Prison in London, Kent was one of only two rebels executed outside of Dublin in 1916, and his body was buried in Cork Prison, known as the Victoria Barracks at the time.

Kent's remains were exhumed this year for DNA testing after descendants agreed to the offer of a State funeral.

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From Belfast Telegraph