On 9th September 1916, Thomas Michael “Tom” Kettle was killed at Ginchy, during the Battle of the Somme in France. Kettle, born in 1880, was an Irish journalist, barrister, writer, poet, soldier, economist and Home Rule politician.
Educated by the Jesuits at Clongowes Wood College, The Clongownian records that in 1895, he won an exhibition for £30, tenable for two years, along with Arthur E. Clery. In 1896, Kettle won the Prize Essay on ‘Owen Roe O’ Neill’ ending the article with “Lamdh Dhearg Aboo”. In 1897, he was the Gold Medalist, 1st place in the Senior Grade in Ireland in the Intermediate examinations, won composition prizes in English and French and was first in an exhibition, amounting to £50. At Clongowes, according to Arthur Clery he was ‘clean mad on cycling…especially cycle racing…He talked of it incessantly’.
Active as a student in the Jesuit-run University College, Dublin, he was auditor of the L & H and editor of the college magazine, St Stephen’s. His contemporaries at University College included James Joyce, Arthur Clery, John Marcus O’Sullivan, Felix Hackett and Hugh Kennedy. He organised but did not take part in a famous attack on the organ at the conferring of degree by the Royal University in order to prevent the playing of ‘God Save the Queen’ in 1905. In 1908 he was appointed the first Professor of National Economics at University College Dublin, a constituent college of the new National University of Ireland.
The Clongownian in 1909 reported from the Daily Mail, that Mr T.M. Kettle, M.P for East Tyrone finest speech was on the occasion of the second reading of the Women’s Suffrage Bill – ” “Mr Speaker…they say that if we admit women here as members the House will lose in mental power”. He flung a finger round the benches. “Mr Speaker…it is impossible”. Rarely has the House had a more appealing picture than that of this dark-haired boy defending the cause of the ladies with all the gallantry and wit of his native land”.
There are obituaries in The Clongownian for Kettle in 1917 and 1918 and the Jesuit journal Studies, had an obituary for Kettle in 1916, written by Professor Arthur E. Clery. Further articles on Kettle have appeared in Studies: in 1931 by William Dawson, in 1966 by Denis Gwynn and in 2015 by Ronan O’Brien.