Jim Canning commemorative artwork unveiled at Coalisland canal walk

A special piece of artwork to commemorate Coalisland councillor and local historian Jim Canning was officially unveiled today as hundreds attended the canal group’s annual Christmas walk.

The artwork – understood to have cost about £2,000 – was created by German sculptor Holger Christian Lönze, an artist in residence with Craigavon council.

The Jim Canning memorial artwork, created by German sculptor Holger Christian Lönze

Coalisland canal committee chairman James Walshe and Dungannon council Mayor Kenneth Reid unveiled the memorial piece, placed on the ground floor of the Cornmill.

Mr Canning, who died last year, was a butcher in the town and a councillor for the area on Dungannon council. He was chairman of the Coalisland canal committee and produced several books chronicling the history of the area.

Crowds of people attended the annual Coalisland canal walk

Up to 400 people were said to have also joined the canal group’s annual walk, with many later stopping for tea and biscuits in the Cornmill.

A spokesman for the Coalisland Canal Committee said: “It would be a fitting tribute to Jim Canning if we can continue to see improvements of Coalisland and the canal over the coming months and years.

“Every piece of rubbish recycled and facility improved is a step along the road to a better future.”

Members of Coalisland’s canal group said up to 400 people took part in the walk this year

The decision to commission the artwork was taken by the Coalisland branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland, along with the Coalisland Development Association, of which Mr Canning was a founder member.

The cost of the plaque was spread between three community groups, including the Coalisland canal group.

Families walked from the Cornmill along the Lineside as part of the annual event

James Walshe said the special commission was a “necessary gesture” to recognise Mr Canning’s dedication to Coalisland.

Speaking to the Tyrone Times, Mr Walshe said: “We want to honour all the work that Jim did and the faith that he had in the canal.

“He set up and was closely involved in Coalisland Development Association as well as the Canal Committee. His whole commitment to the town and to the betterment of the area was unrivalled.

“Everything that he did over the years has been well documented and I think this is something that he deserves, from the Development Association and ourselves.”

Walkers later returned to the Cornmill for tea, biscuits and a Christmas natter

Alice Herron, from the Coalisland Development Association, paid tribute to Jim Canning as one of the founding members of the organisation in 1981.

She said it was especially fitting that the memorial to Mr Canning was being unveiled at the Cornmill – a building she described as “one of his babies”.

A new outdoor seat in memory of Mr Canning is also to be placed along a new section of the Coalisland canal walkway, near Derrytresk, where a base has already been put in place.

Dungannon council is understood to have agreed to fund the commemorative seat.


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