Born into a prominent nationalist family from Castlelyons, Co Cork in 1865, Kent stayed at home after the Eoin MacNeill’s countermand. After the insurrection went ahead on Easter Monday, the Kent home was raided on 2 May 1916 by the Royal Irish Constabulary, who began rounding up nationalists around the country, who were met with resistance from Thomas and his brothers Richard, David and William. Mrs Kent, aged 84 at the time, reportedly called out: “We are soldiers of the Irish Republic and there is no surrender.”
In the gunfight, Head Constable, William Rowe, was killed. David Kent was seriously wounded, Richard was shot while fleeing and died of his wounds, while Thomas and William were later tried for murder of the officer. William was acquitted, but Thomas was sentenced to death and shot by firing squad in Cork prison on 9 May 1916. David Kent got five years penal servitude. Apart from Roger Casement, Thomas Kent is the only person outside of Dublin to be executed for his role in the events of Easter Week. He was buried at Collins Barracks, Cork.
In June 2015, his remains were exhumed and DNA testing confirmed their identity. Thomas Kent was re-interred with his brothers in the Kent family tomb in Castlelyons, Co Cork. Members of Kent’s extended family said they were “grateful” a state funeral was offered and that a conclusion had been reached as to where his remains had been for almost 100 years.
In 1966 the railway station in Cork was renamed Kent Station in his honour.
Image credit | 1916 Easter Revolution in Colour