Tributes to Easter 1916 patriot as Cork stages state funeral
Thousands have paid their respects to an Easter Rising patriot who will finally be buried in his family's Cork crypt 99 years after his execution by British forces.
Thomas Kent lay in state at Collins Barracks last night with full military honours to allow members of the public to pay their respects.
His state funeral, which was sanctioned by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, follows the successful exhumation and identification of his remains from a grave in Cork Prison yard this year.
The remains were identified via DNA genetic testing thanks to samples supplied by Kent family descendants still living in the Castlelyons and Fermoy areas of north Cork.
The patriot's grandnephew, Eamon Walsh, said the state funeral was hugely significant for the family.
"I cannot put it strongly enough how much this means to us all," he said. "As far as I am concerned, Thomas Kent is the patriot of patriots. He made the ultimate sacrifice for his country and he deserves every honour and tribute paid to him."
Among those who have travelled to Ireland to honour the memory of Thomas Kent is Rosemary O'Neill, the daughter of the late Speaker of the United States House of Represent- atives, Tipp O'Neill.
She will attend today's state funeral accompanied by her Irish hosts, Michael and Rose O'Neill, formerly of Mallow, Co Cork, but now resident in Dublin.
Her visit is in recognition of the fact that Thomas Kent worked for a time in Boston.
The state funeral will involve the patriot's remains being taken by hearse this morning, complete with military honour guard, from Collins Barracks to Castlelyons Church.
Both the Taoiseach and President Michael D Higgins are scheduled to attend the requiem mass.
Fianna Fáil leader and Cork TD Micheál Martin will represent the Opposition.
Lord Mayor of Cork, councillor Chris O'Leary, and the Mayor of Cork County, councillor John Paul O'Shea, will represent local authorities.
To cater for the expected huge crowds and the limited church capacity, special marquees have been erected in Castlelyons.
The village has also undergone a huge refurbishment programme to mark the state funeral.
Following the requiem mass, Thomas Kent, who was 50 when he was executed, will be buried in his family's crypt alongside the remains of his brothers William, Richard and David.
Richard was shot and killed as he made a desperate attempt to escape British forces after a shoot-out in May 1916 at the Kent farmhouse at Bawnard outside Castlelyons. David was seriously wounded.
Thomas was executed after being captured.
The Taoiseach will deliver today's graveside oration.