Joseph MacManus

Not to be confused with the American diplomat Joseph Macmanus.
"Joe McManus" redirects here. For the baseball pitcher, see Joe McManus (baseball).
Joe MacManus
Born 23 May 1970
Harlesden, London, England
Died 5 February 1992(1992-02-05) (aged 21)
Belleek, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Allegiance Provisional Irish Republican Army
Years of service 1987–1992[1]
Rank Volunteer [2][3]
Unit Sligo Brigade
Conflict The Troubles[4]

Joseph Edward "Joe" MacManus (often incorrectly spelt Joe McManus) (Irish Seosamh Mac Mághnais; 23 May 1970 – 5 February 1992), was a volunteer in the Sligo Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army. He was killed during a shoot-out after his unit attempted a killing in Mulleek near Belleek, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.[5]


MacManus was born in Harlesden, north-west London, which at the time had a large Irish community. His father, Seán MacManus, a native of Gubaveeney, near Blacklion, County Cavan, had moved to London in the 1960s to find work. There he met and married Helen McGovern, a native of Glenfarne, County Leitrim. In 1976, the family returned to Ireland to live in the working-class Maugheraboy area of Sligo town so that the boys could be educated in Ireland.[6]

He was educated to primary level at Scoil Ursula Primary School, Strandhill Road, Sligo and St. John's Marist Brothers National School, Temple Street, Sligo to secondary level at Summerhill College and at third level at Sligo RTC. MacManus played football for local junior teams Collegians and Corinthians, and Gaelic football for both Saint Mary's GFC of Maugheraboy and Coolera GFC of Strandhill.[1]

His father Seán, who at the time was a leading republican, later became Mayor of Sligo. He was the secretary of the County Sligo anti H-Block Committee in the 1980s. He was the first Sinn Féin Mayor in the Republic of Ireland since the beginning of The Troubles in 1969. His father was also involved in the negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement. Joe's younger brother, Chris, is a Sinn Féin Councillor for Sligo Borough Council, and is also a member of Sinn Féin's national executive, the Ard Comhairle.[7][8]

Paramilitary activity

In 1987, MacManus attended the funeral of Jim Lynagh, one of those killed in the Loughall ambush. In 1988, at the age of 18, he joined the Provisional IRA's Sligo Brigade.[1]

In 1991, he joined a Ballyshannon-based active service unit which replaced the West Fermanagh Brigade, disbanded after the Enniskillen bombing. Initially, he carried out minor operations including moving munitions between arms dumps, passing intelligence between operatives and attending training camps in the region.[9] On 2 February 1992, he and the rest of his unit, James Hughes, Conor O'Neill and Noel Magee, met at a safe house in Ballyshannon, County Donegal to make final arrangement for an operation which was to take place later in the following week.

MacManus' headstone at Sligo City Cemetery

Mulleek ambush

On 3 February, MacManus and his unit crossed the border and took over the house of farmer Pat Loughran. Loughran was ordered to lure Eric Glass, an Ulster Defence Regiment soldier and part-time Fermanagh District Council dog warden, to his home on the pretence that his dog had attacked a family member.[5]

Corporal Eric Glass of the 4th (Co Fermanagh) Battalion, Ulster Defence Regiment (4 UDR), a former member of the B-Specials, arrived at the farmhouse on the morning of 5 February. When he arrived at the gate of the farmhouse he was ambushed by the unit and ordered to get out of his van. The unit opened fire on Glass, who then reached for his handgun, which he always had ready, loaded and placed on the passenger seat of the van. A gun battle ensued in which Glass was badly injured: his thigh bone was shattered and the bone partially penetrated his skin. He managed to fight off his attackers, killing MacManus in the process.[5] Corporal Glass later received both the Queen's Gallantry Medal and Distinguished Conduct Medal for bravery, making him the "most decorated" UDR soldier.[10] An account of the attack on Corporal Glass was carried in the Belfast News Letter.[11]

Monument issue

In 2002, a dispute resulted after a monument to Joe MacManus and fellow volunteers Antoine Mac Giolla Bhrighde and Kieran Fleming was sited close to the place where Protestant workmen William Hassard and Frederick Love were killed by the IRA in 1988.[12][13][14]

A Sinn Féin spokesman stated that "The families of Ciaran Fleming, Joseph McManus and Antoine Mac Giolla Bhrighde, the three IRA men commemorated by the monument, had given the go-ahead for the structure to be moved".[15]


The Sligo West Ward Cumann of Sinn Féin is named the Joseph MacManus Cumann in honour of MacManus and there is an annual lecture given in his name which has been addressed by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Pat Doherty, Pearse Doherty, Aengus O Snodaigh and Gerry Adams in recent years.[16][17][18]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 Tírghrá, National Commemoration Centre, 2002. PB) ISBN 0-9542946-0-2 p. 343
  2. Rebel Hearts – Journey's within the IRA's soul, Kevin Toolis, 1995. PB) ISBN 0-312-15632-4 p.334
  3. CAIN Web Service (Conflict Archive on the INternet)
  4. the most important campaigns ever fought by the British Army and its fellow Services
  5. 1 2 3 Rebel Hearts – Journey's within the IRA's soul, Kevin Toolis, 1995. PB) ISBN 0-312-15632-4 p.334
  6. Unknown. “Sorrowful Homecoming for a Brave Young Irishman” The Irish People 1992-02-22. Retrieved on 2007-02-22.
  7. Alderman Sean MacManus
  8. Liam Ferrie. “Northern News” Irish Emigrant 1992-02-10. Retrieved on 2007-02-22.
  9. Rebel Hearts – Journey's within the IRA's soul, Kevin Toolis, 1995; ISBN 0-312-15632-4; p. 337
  10. Potter 2001, pp. 366–69
  11. Northern News
  12. The Impartial Reporter
  13. Republicans make conciliatory move over IRA memorial
  14. Family’s relief at plans to remove IRA monument
  15. Ninth annual Joe McManus/Kevin Coen lecture – Adams slams faceless securocrats
  16. Peace strategy ``still strong and viable
  17. Irish government must demand answers from British on murder of Irish citizens


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