A commemoration will take place in the city tomorrow night to mark the 40th anniversary of two Derry republicans who were killed in 1972.
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the deaths of two local IRA men, John Brady and Jimmy Carr, who were killed in a premature explosion in November 1972. Derry Journal reporter Michael McMonagle looks back at the events surrounding the deaths of the two men ahead of a commemoration in the city his evening.
A commemoration will take place in the city tonight to mark the 40th anniversary of two Derry republicans who were killed in 1972.
John Brady and Jimmy Carr were killed in an explosion in Meenan Square in the Bogside on Tuesday November 28 when a bomb prematurely exploded, destroying the house.
Their deaths came at the height of the Troubles in Derry in 1972 - the bloodiest year of the conflict - when explosions and gun battles between the British army and IRA were a daily occurrence.
On the day of the bomb blast which killed the two men, Derry was rocked by six explosions and a major gun battle, during which up to 700 shots were exchanged, took place on the border at Coshquin.
The two men who died were both IRA members who got involved in republicanism after witnessing the turbulent events leading up to 1972 in Derry.
At the time of their deaths the IRA in the city said that both men were on “active service” and death notices placed by the republican movement described John Brady as a lieutenant in the second battalion of the Provisional IRA in Creggan.
The pair had been in the house of another local republican, Charlie McSheffrey, when the explosion took place. Mr McSheffrey had just been released from Long Kesh where he had been interned shortly before in the incident.
Members of Cumann na mBann brought a supply of explosives to the house the night before and the two men were preparing a bomb when one of the charges exploded prematurely at 11am.
20 year-old John Brady and 19 year-old Jimmy Carr were both regarded as experienced IRA members at the time of their deaths, an indication of the youth of those involved in the Troubles at the time.
John Brady grew up in Malin Gardens in Creggan and was the sixth in a family of ten. Before the start of the Troubles his main interest was sport, regularly playing both football and snooker. A Totenham Hotspur fan, he was regarded as a talented soccer player and had trials for a number of youth teams.
When he left school he went to work in a shoe factory in Springtown until he was made redundant. At this time riots were commonplace in Derry and like many young men, he became involved in the rioting and soon joined the IRA.
Despite his republican activities, his family say he lived a normal live, remaining at home until the British army launched Operation Motorman to retake control of the ‘no-go’ areas of the Bogside and Creggan. After that he slept in safe houses until he died.
Jimmy Carr grew up in the St Columb’s Wells area of Derry and this area was to play an important role in his decision to join the IRA. One of his first encounters with violence was when the RUC attacked St Columb’s Wells in 1969, breaking windows and assaulting residents. He and his father were injured attempting to resist the police.
Jimmy was a joiner by trade and continued working despite becoming increasingly active in the IRA. He was a keen sports fan, regularly playing in inter-street matches and playing snooker at the Star snooker hall.
Both men were buried on the same day with full paramilitary honours. Both funerals attracted crowds of several hundred people.
At John Brady’s funeral, a volley of shots was fired over his coffin outside the family home at Malin Gardens before the Requiem Mass at St Mary’s Church.
The Tricolour-draped coffin was then accompanied on its quarter mile journey to the City Cemetery by eight members of Cumann na mBan dressed in black berets, black skirts with white blouses and wearing dark glasses.
The girls and about sixty youths wearing black berets responded to orders given in Irish as the coffin was taken from the church and carried to the graveside.
A large crowd followed the cortege and shielded the Cumann n mBan girls with umbrellas.
The cortege, which was headed by a lone piper, waited for several minutes at the gates of the cemetery until the funeral of Jimmy Carr was seen coming up Eastway Road and then it proceeded to the graveside.
The Requiem Mass for Jimmy Carr was celebrated in St Eugene’s Cathedral by Rev K Doherty and was attended by more than 500 people.
After the Mass, the Tricolour-draped coffin was carried to the City Cemetery. It was escorted by members of Cumann na mBan and members of the Eamon Lafferty Sinn Fein cumann. Many sympathisers also joined the cortege as it made its way to the City Cemetery. Wreaths were laid at the grace by schoolchildren and friends of the deceased.
A lone piper played the ‘Last Post’ and a volley of three shots was fired over the grave.
Tomorrow night’s commemoration has been organised by the Bogside/Brandywell and Creggan Republican Monument Committees and will take place at the Creggan Republican Monument, Central Drive, at 7pm.