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Mystery of corks 1916 patriot may be solved soon

Thursday, 27th February, 2014 12:00am

The same ultra-modern radar used to find Richard III in a car park in Leicester is likely to be used to solve the 98 year mystery of where Cork patriot Thomas Kent is buried in Cork Prison.

Thomas Kent was executed and buried in the yard of Cork Prison on 9 May, 1916 after he engaged in a battle with Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) men and British Officers, who surrounded his house on the day of the 1916 rising.

After execution, he was buried in the prison yard, but the exact location is now unknown. Campaigners including the Kent family and Cork members of the Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen have tried to secure information from British archives as to exactly where he is buried.

Unfortunately the material on Thomas Kent is not due to be released until 1916, after a 100 year embargo ends.

Campaigners, including his family, want to use the ground penetrating radar (GPR) to locate him.

One Cork councillor is confident that the campaign to solve the mystery of where the patriot is buried will be completed before 2016.

Cllr Joe O'Callaghan said: “Thomas Kent is the only leader of 1916 whose body has not been identified and returned. It deserves to be done; He gave his life for his country and the least we can do is to locate him and return him to his family.”

Cllr O'Callaghan put a motion before Cork City Council last summer to get the Taoiseach to do everything in his power to try and find the body of Thomas Kent.

Tom Walsh, Chair of the Cork branch of Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen spoke about it on 96FM recently.

He believes that Thomas Kent is probably buried under prison buildings. He said that when the new prison is built, the old buildings will be removed and the “body searching gear that was used to find the remains of Richard III in England” will be used. “We feel that it's a disgrace that the remains of a man shot to death for this country should be left where he lies in a prison yard when any other person involved in the Irish freedom fight has been properly interred in a correct cemetery. We do have the ability to find the remains, it's only a matter of let us find the remains and give the man the due honour that he should be given.”

Mr Walsh said his group have been working on the mystery “in excess of ten years”. “We have sent a person to the KEW archives in London,” the British military archives.

Although a plaque on a prison wall commemorates Thomas Kent, it has moved around and the exact location of his burial place has been forgotten. Cork railway station is named in honour of Thomas Kent, as well as a number of terraces in Cork city and other Cork towns.

He was the one of only two 1916 rebels executed outside of Dublin, along with Roger Casement.

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