Lieutenant Thomas Michael Ketttle, B Company, 9th Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, was killed in action on 09 September 1916, near the village of Ginchy on the 71st day of the Battle of the Somme. His name is inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial as one of 72,000 who have no known grave. Although commissioned in 1920, a bust of Lieutenant Kettle was erected in St Stephen’s Green Dublin in 1937. Whereas the inscription states that Lieutenant Kettle died at Guinchy (sic), it neglects to record that he dies as a serving officer in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, represented the Government on Friday, 09 September, at a State Ceremonial event marking the centenary of the death of Lieutenant Thomas Kettle MP. Lieutenant Kettle was a renowned Irish poet, statesman and soldier.
The ceremony, which included readings, a musical interlude and a wreath laying by the Minister and members of the Kettle Family, took place in St. Stephen’s Green, where a memorial bust to Kettle is situated. The Standard of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers was on parade. The ceremony was attended by many members of the extended Kettle family, a number of whom took part in the ceremony. Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett DSM and Brigadier-General Howard Berney represented the Defence Forces. The Chief Justice Susan Denham was in attendance. Brigadier-General Paul Pakenham represented the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust Ltd.
The event was organised by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, with input from and participation by the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade and the Defence Forces.
In paying tribute to Lieutenant Kettle, Minister Flanagan said:
“A politician, poet, parliamentarian and a true European, Tom Kettle was a hugely important figure and the death of this proud nationalist was not only a loss for his family and friends but a huge loss to Ireland. “Ireland in the early years of statehood could only have been enriched by someone of his intellect and talents and his loss is a reminder of the tragedy of a generation from across Europe who were caught up in the slaughter of World War I.” “I can think of no more fitting tribute to their memory than to cherish the peace and stability we have in Europe today and to seek ways of extending this beyond our borders to parts of the world experiencing the horrors of war today.”
London Ceremony – London
Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK and Mr Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Democratic Unionist Party, laid wreaths in hour of Lieutenant Thomas Kettle at the House of Commons First World War Memorial. Speaking at the event Ambassador Dan Mulhall stated, inter alia, “He [T. Kettle] confessed to a realisation that those who had fought in Dublin would come to be regarded as heroes and martyrs, while he would be remembered if at all as a bloody British officer”
UCD Seminar – Tom Kettle 100 – 09 September
On Friday 9 September, as part of its Decade of Centenaries programme, UCD hosted a seminar entitled ‘Tom Kettle 100’, to mark the centenary of the death of the nationalist MP, UCD professor and journalist Thomas Kettle (1880-1916), who was killed serving with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers on the Western Front on 09 September 1916.
Speakers included Tom Burke (UCD) and Conor Mulvagh (UCD), and the event also featured the unveiling of a memorial plaque to Kettle by UCD President Andrew J. Deeks. The seminar took place in the History Board Room, K114, John Henry Newman Building, UCD Belfield.
Photographic Exhibition – Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace – St Stephen’s Green
As part of the day’s commemorative events, Minister Flanagan also launched an exhibition, “Fields of Battle, Lands of Peace”, a series of photographs by photographer Mike Sheils which focus on the battlefields of the World War I and which will be on display at the Lime Walk on the northern end of in St. Stephen’s Green until mid-October.
The photographs are landscape photographs of World War I battlefields today and aim to show how the passage of time has changed the nature of these sites of past conflict. The exhibition includes information on and images from the World War I, including the Battle of the Somme and the experience of those from the island of Ireland
Launching the photographic exhibition, the Minister said:
“These stunning landscape photographs, which will be on display in St Stephens Green until mid-October, show the battlefields of the World War I as they are today and highlight the contrast with the terrible events of a century ago. “I am pleased that it was possible to bring this exhibition to Dublin as part of the Government’s Somme Centenary Programme and our commitment to commemorating all of the key events during this Decade of Centenaries.”
Thomas Kettle was born in Artane on 09 February 1880, into a prominent family imbued with a strong Home Rule philosophy. He was educated in CBS O’Connell Schools and Clongowes Wood College. As a student in UCD, he was auditor of the Literary and Historical Society. Graduating with a BA in 1902, he became president of the Young Ireland Branch of the United Irish League in 1904.
In 1905, he was called to the bar, and in 1906 was elected as MP for East Tyrone. In 1908, he was appointed to the new post as Professor of National Economics at UCD. He married in 1909 to Mary Sheehy and they had one child, Elizabeth, to whom the poem, “To My Daughter Betty, the Gift of God” written shortly before his death, was dedicated.
In 1914, while purchasing weapons in Belgium for the Irish Volunteers, Thomas Kettle witnessed the impact of World War One first hand, and took the view that the struggle against Germany transcended Anglo-Irish politics. Supporting John Redmond’s stance on the war, he eventually obtained a commission with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and was sent to the Western Front. Despite a growing disillusionment with the War, compounded by the aftermath of the Easter Rising, he chose to remain at the front and was killed at Ginchy on 09 September 1916.