Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The Kents of Castlelyons

It is interesting to think, given how central County Cork would be to the war of independence, the limited role it played in the 1916 rising. Outside of Dublin, there was almost no major fighting. The exceptions to this were in North Dublin where 60 volunteers under the leadership of Thomas Ashe seized a number of key buildings and attacked an RIC barracks, with fatalities ensuing on both sides. There was an attempted attack on the RIC barracks in Enniscorthy which failed and Liam Mellows led a number of attacks on RIC barracks across Galway which eventually fizzled out due to demoralisation.  In Cork interestingly, 1200 volunteers assembled in the city but dispersed due to the confusion surrounding MacNeill's countermanding order. It is interesting to consider what would have happened had the Cork units seized buildings. The rising would still almost certainly have failed but 1200 rebels in the second city could have made the British clampdown a far more difficult task.

The only action in Cork then occured near the village of Castlelyons when police attempted to arrest the prominent volunteers Thomas, David, Richard and William Kent. A gun battle ensued that lasted for 3-4 hours. Despite the Kents only having 1 rifle and 3 shotguns the RIC called on the British army to aid them. The battle ended with Richard dead and the other three brothers captured. Thomas was later sentenced to death. Kent station station in Cork is named after him.

Anyway, the reason I'm bringing this up is that I've stumbled upon an interesting short documentary made by RTE in 1966 about the Castlelyons battle. It says just as much about the battle as it does about how the rising was remembered at that time. Anyway, here is the link, via People's Republic of Cork. It requires realplayer which only takes a minute to download and install. Hopefully I'll be able to return to this incident as it makes quite an interesting case study in local popular memory.

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