finding your roots

The Kent Family and the Easter Rising

Carol McCarthy Martin March 20, 2012

I started my family tree journey a couple of years ago. I love finding out the bits and pieces that make up my lineage. Though, being of Irish heritage it is always difficult to locate all the information you would like. But, one day I was researching my third great grandmother’s family and came across the name of my cousin Thomas Rice Kent 1865-1916 along with his brothers David, William and Richard. I was amazed as I read about the lives of the Kent brothers. Lives that ultimately culminated in their involvement in the Easter Rising and for two of the brothers….death. I think even at this point I had never heard of the Easter Rising! Nor had I ever heard the story of the Kent Brothers. I will give you a very short overview. But you can google the Easter Rising and read more on the family if you like.

 

Thomas Kent

Thomas Kent

Thomas was executed, one of the 15 men who were, on May 9, 1916 in Victoria Barracks in Cork. Thomas and Richard Casement were the only two who were executed outside Dublin during this time. On May 2 1916 the British had ordered the RIC to arrest well known Republican families and the Kents were one of those families targeted. But, when the RIC came, to Bawnard House where the Kents lived,to arrest them a battle ensued. Constable Rowe was killed and the battle went on for several hours. Mrs. Kent nee Mary Rice, age 84, evidently cooled and loaded her sons’ guns and encouraged them. But, they finally ran out of ammunition and surrendered. During the surrender Richard Kent decided to try and make a run for it but he was shot in the back and died a couple of days later. All three of the brothers who were left were sentenced to death by firing squad through a secret courts martial. But Thomas was the only one who was executed. The train station in Cork was renamed in his honor to The Kent Station.

William and David had their sentences commuted to life in penal servitude but that too was eventually overturned. William and David went on to be elected to the first and subsequent Irish Dail (sp?).

I tell you this story because I am always surprised at how families can lose information such as the above story. You would think that such a sad but nation changing event would be passed down so that everyone in the family would know. So, write down your stories for the next generations before they are lost!

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Comments

  • Patricia Carey

    March 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Great story! I have been fascinated by the 1916 Easter Rebellion in Ireland for a long time. Might you also be related to Eamonn Ceannt (born Edward Thomas Kent in Galway), signer of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, also executed in May of 1916?

  • Patricia Carey

    March 22, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    Fascinating story! Do you know if you are also related to Eamon Ceannt (born Edward Thomas Kent in Galway), signer of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic? He was also executed in May of 1916, in Dublin, however, for being one of the leaders of the Easter Rebellion.

  • Carol McCarthy Martin

    April 23, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Patricia;
    No I am not related to Eamon Ceannt. And, I believe that many have tried to establish a connection between the two Kent families but have not succeeded. Probably somewhere along the line there is most likely a connection. Would be fascinating to find out.
    But for the meantime, I will continue locating as much information on the Kent family of Fermoy.
    If you go to the web site RTE archives http://www.rte.ie/laweb/ll/ll_t06_schedule_c.html you can actually listen to an eye witness account of the day the Kents battled the RIC. the program is titled ‘The Family from Fermoy’

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The basic drive to discover who we are and where we come from is at the core of the new 10-part PBS series Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the 12th series from Professor Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research. Filmed on location across the United States, the series premieres nationally Sundays, March 25 – May 20 at 8 pm ET on PBS (check local listings).

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