Mary Colette Sheehan pictured with organisers, public representatives and other supporters of the Inaugural Thomas Kent Symposium at the official launch held in Fermoy Youth Centre last Thursday morning. (Picture: Emily Aherne)

The first Thomas Kent Symposium is due to be held in Fermoy from September 28 – 30.

This exciting project, which will be a series of interactive and informative discussions about the life and death of Castlelyons native Thomas Kent as well as other related topics, will be held in the round at Fermoy Community and Youth Centre and has been spearheaded by Digital Humanities PhD Candidate Mary Colette Sheehan.

The event – due to attract national attention – will bring to light elements of local history which have been swept under the carpet until this point. Their effect on the behaviours and responses of the current generation will be discussed, albeit sensitively and appropriately, which makes the symposium a truly unique and ground-breaking event.

Speaking at the official launch which was held in Fermoy Youth Centre last Thursday morning, the co-ordinator of the project, Mary Colette Sheehan explained how our history has a direct influence on our lives today.

“We are the vessels of history, that river, this building, and all of us here, each of us are vessels of history and it’s not that we have to know somebody who was deeply involved in 1921, for example, but the effect of them being involved in 1921 or ’22 or ’23 comes down the line through memory and how you respond to a situation and how you articulate it,” she said.

There are some world renowned historians, researchers and others who will be speaking and leading discussions at the symposium including the keynote speaker Professor Joseph Lee, historian Gabriel O’Doherty, archaeologist Damien Shields, Dr Aoife Breathnach, Professor Terence Dooley, military history Gerry White, history teacher Anthony O’Flynn and many more.

Ian Fleming, who is part of the organising committee said: “I see this event as a way in which, through our paying homage to these men and women, that we are opening our history which has not been allowed to be talked about across the board.”

The event is generously funded by the Heritage Council and also has the support of Cork County Council, and will be proudly placed on the annual conference list curated by Cork County Council.

Cllr Frank O’Flynn, Chairman of Cork County Commemorations Committee and Fermoy Municipal District, warmly welcomed the event and was proud to be associated with it.

“This will help to keep the memory of Thomas Kent alive for the generations to come and the part he played in the fight for Irish freedom. I hope that it will be an annual event and Cork County Council will do whatever we can to help to promote the symposium,” he told The Avondhu.

The inaugural conference has been met with great support so far and is only possible with the blessing of the Kent family. The organising committee are encouraging anyone with an interest in volunteering their time to assist with the symposium to contact Mary Colette Sheehan.