Sad passing of Derry republican Manus Canning

The death has taken place of well-known Derry republican Manus Canning.

Friday, 16th March 2018, 4:12 pm
Updated Friday, 16th March 2018, 5:15 pm
1953... Manus Canning (on left) with Sean MacStiofain and Cathal Goulding pictured leaving court after being remanded in custody in connection with a raid on a British Army barracks in England.

Mr Canning, late of Caradale Park in the Foyle Springs area of the city, passed away at Altnagelvin Hospital on Friday morning.

Pre-deceased by his wife, Naoko, Mr. Canning’s funeral will take place on Sunday morning at Holy Family Church, Ballymagroarty (12.30pm).

A fluent Irish speaker, it’s understood Mr. Canning first learned the language in the 1940s and spent time in Gweedore, in west Donegal, perfecting it.

He worked for a time in London in the late 1940s but had returned to Derry by April 1951 when he and others secretly erected the Irish Tricolour on top of Walker’s Pillar overlooking the Bogside.

He subsequently joined the IRA’s Derry brigade and was part of a group which successfully raided Ebrington Barracks in the city’s Waterside to secure arms and ammunition.

He was later sent to England where he met up with Cathal Goulding and Sean MacStiofain - who both went on to be Chiefs of Staff of the IRA - to raid an officer training barracks in Essex.

The trio were successful in securing more than 100 rifles and eight Bren guns and other equipment during the raid in July 1953.

However, their heavily laden van was stopped by the police in London and the trio were each sentenced to eight years in Wormwood Scrubs prison.

While in prison, Canning stood for Sinn Féin in the Derry constituency in the 1955 general election, taking 35.5% of the vote. He stood again in 1959 but he took only 27% of the vote.

It’s understood that, while in jail, he taught Sean MacStíofáin to speak Irish.

In 1960, Canning moved to New York City to work for a publishing company where he met his future wife, Naoko. The couple later moved back to Derry.

A prolific letter writer over the years, scores of Mr Canning’s letters were published in the ‘Derry Journal’.