All posts by Michele Canning

Family lift veil on murder 70 years ago

Gertrude Canning was 20 years old when she was murdered in 1942

It was the height of World War II and on the shores of Lough Fyne in Scotland, thousands of military personnel formed part of the British war machine. Servicemen and women were drilling for the D-Day landings in the highlands of Inverarary, chosen because it was beyond the reach of the German bombers. One of those was a young 20 year Donegal woman, whose brutal death, not at the hands of the enemy, would haunt future generations of her family. Michele Canning, the great-niece of Gertrude Canning, reports.

The nephew of a woman murdered almost 70 years ago has claimed that he knows who the key suspect is.
Gertrude Canning  from County Donegal was 20 years old when she was shot several times and her body was dumped in a field.
It happened close to the Combined Training Centre, which included HMS Quebec,
where she served in June of 1942. She had left the base to post a letter to her father. It arrived three days before her body was found in a hedge by children.
Ms Canning was a member of the Womens Royal Naval Services (WRN).
Her nephew Liam Canning said he knows the identity of the serviceman suspected of the murder.

Members of the Canning family, who are investigating the murder of their aunt 70 years ago.

“From what has been presented to the family, I could clearly identify who I think is the suspect,” he said.
“Police in Scotland have said that if the case were to come before them now they would solve it.
“The family are not looking for revenge. We have no real malice towards the person that did this.
“When we started this, the primary goal was not about finding a killer, it was about showing respect 70 years on for our aunt,” said Mr Canning.

Let Penn take you into the wild

Into the Wild – a review by Michele Canning

Into the WildSean Penn’s ‘Into the Wild’

With ‘Into the Wild’, Sean Penn dons his director’s hat to tell the real life story of straight-A student Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch), who in 1992 donated all his savings to charity, dropped out of society and embarked on a journey of self-discovery, changing his name to Alexander Supertramp, with only the writings of Thoreau, Tolstoy and Jack London for company.

Penn effectively paints a picture of a young man at odds with society in general and his dysfunctional, materialistic parents (Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt) in particular.

Along his journey through the backroads of America he crosses paths with an ageing hippy couple (Catherine Keener and Brian Dieker), a grain harvester (Vince Vaughan), an infatuated teenager (Kristen Stewart) and a lonely old man (Hal Holbrook), learning valuable life lessons from each encounter.

Hirsch portrays McCandless as a charming, intellectual, yet troubled individual, who nevertheless touches the lives of all those he meets, and whose ultimate journey to the frozen wastes of Alsaska eventually leads to a damascene conversion to the value of human friendship.

An uncredited supporting character is the great American wilderness, which Penn uses to great effect in all its beautiful, and on occasion, desolate glory.

A worthy mention must also go to Eddie Vedder’s Neil Young-esque Americana soundtrack, which accompanies the scenery to great effect.

Into the wild is a moving exploration of the human condition, as visually stunning as it is thought provoking. Ultimately, while McCandless’ actions cost him his life, his view of the corrupting influence of consumerism and the great hunt for possessions at the heart of the darkness in society may be even more relevant now in a post-economic meltdown world than it was in 1992.

Vandals target Adria site

The Adria site
A bird's eye view of the now derelict Adria site

VANDALS, targeting a disused factory site in Strabane, are making life miserable for residents living nearby. Michele Canning looks into the problem

Once home to hosiery giant, Adria, the 11.5 acre Beechmount Avenue site has lain derelict since the collapse of the town’s manufacturing industry in 2006.

Today, the detritus of illegality – dumping, underage outdoor drinking and vandalism – is a daily eyesore for local residents.

Pensioner Colm McGrath’s home at Ashgrove Park backs onto the site, where he spent most of his working life. He has erected an eight-foot fence to keep vandals out.

“I have had my windows broken twice. It never stops. I have spoken to the council, the landowner and the police. Nothing has been done. There are a lot of pensioners living in this park and they are afraid,” he said.

Resident Patrick Devine, said: “It’s like an open air pub over there. We are tortured with stone throwers. I was hit on the face by a youth trespassing on the site.”

Beechmount Developments bought the site in 2006. Developer, Kevin Crumley said he is “fighting a losing battle” with vandals.

“We have had the site secured on a number of occasions but each time the work has been undone. The only way to rectify this is to get the site redeveloped.”

Mr Crumley has been unable to build there after twice being refused planning permission.

“The site is worth maybe one quarter of what was paid for it. The only way to salvage anything and eradicate this eyesore is to develop the site.”

Paddy Cosgrove, chief environmental health officer at Strabane Council, said the local authority does not have responsibility for the site.

“I would appeal to people not to abuse the site and to get in touch with the owner if they have any issues.”