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28 May 2024  

Remembering Thomas Kettle


On the 100th anniversary of his death on 9th September 1916, the National University of Ireland remembers Thomas Michael (Tom) Kettle who studied at University College Dublin graduating in 1902 with a BA degree of the Royal University of Ireland. He qualified as a barrister in 1905. In 1908 on the establishment of the National Univerity of Ireland he was appointed as the first Professor of National Economics in UCD and elected a member of the NUI General Board of Studies.

Combining his academic career with a range of other interests, Kettle was politically active in the Home Rule movement. He was a a Member of Parliament (MP) at Westminister for the Irish Parliamentary Party representing East Tyrone from 1906 to 1910. In the face of Ulster Unionist opposition to Home Rule, Kettle joined the Irish Volunteers. While in Belgium seeking to buy arms for the Volunteers, Kettle experienced at first hand the early horrors of the First World War and on returning to Ireland, he sided with John Redmond and enlisted. In spite of poor health, he applied to be sent to the Western Front ultimately securing a commission in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Having spent further time in Ireland on sick leave, Kettle insisted on returning to the front, leaving Ireland for the last time in July 1916. He died at Ginchy during the Battle of the Somme.

Academic, politician, literary figure, friend of Thomas McDonagh and James Joyce, soldier, Thomas Kettle deserves to be remembered in particular in this centenary year. He was a major figure to emerge from the cultural, intellectual and political ferment of early 20th century Ireland which ultimately led to the establishment of the Irish State.

‘Remembering Tom Kettle (1880-1916): An exhibition of WWI documents’ will be held at the University College Dublin Archives of the James Joyce Library from 9th September – 4th November displaying a collection of his papers held in UCD Archives. This collection includes significant material concerning his war service and other original documents, including items from UCD Special Collections. More information on this exhibition can be found here: https://ucdlib.wordpress.com/2016/09/02/opening-sept-9th-remembering-tom-kettle-exhibition/