Burning money

Last night was Eleventh Night, the night before 12 July where at many places in Belfast and around Northern Ireland, hundreds of thousands of pounds went up in flames. Celebrations on 12 July mark both the 1688 revolution and the Williamite/Jacobite war of 1689-1691. It’s said the bonfires, lit the night before the day itself, are lit in memory of the fires lit on the hills of Antrim and Down to help William of Orange and his army find their way up through Belfast Lough. It was back then that Catholic King James lost his foothold in Ireland and so began more than a century of British rule.

IMG_2566 (800x600)

Bonfire building starts months before. Rows of wooden pallets, each of which supposedly fetches £7 on the scrap market  line up in silence awaiting their fate. [I think this is an exaggeration as the most I could get online was $2 – but even still it’s money going up in smoke – and did you know that there are magazines dedicated to pallet recycling? Mad!]. On the night itself, fire trucks stand by to hose down the walls of houses that swelter in the heat cast by the up-to-100-foot blazes. The burning of tyres is frowned upon, the burning of effigies and Republican symbols decried. This year, an effigy of Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams hanging from a makeshift gallows atop a bonfire in Antrim’s Ballycraigy drew accusations of racial hatred. And while this was going on, a Tricolor was raised over an Orange Hall in Ballycastle with slogans sprayed on the wall, something also being treated as a hate crime. What happened to roasting marshmallows?

IMG_2561 (800x600)

Apart from a trio of stabbings (shocking how inured  I have become to violence) and a few more arrests, last night was one of the quietest Eleventh nights in years. Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) assistant chief constable Will Kerr said: I am pleased that last night was one of the most peaceful in recent years and am encouraged by the responsible behaviour of the vast majority of people involved. Perhaps the tide is turning.

But then a look at what Irish Times had to say suggests that some just refuse to move on. Although promoted as a cultural event, the celebrations are dense with jingoism as well as sectarian overtones, with anti-Catholic songs and slogans being chanted in many areas during the night. Apparently earlier in the week a statue of the Virgin Mary was removed from a bonfire at Lanark Way. I can well imagine how the sight of that might stir a few embers too many.

Here’s hoping that today’s (and tonight’s) celebrations don’t mirror the clashes we saw last year  and that maybe next year, some of that pallet money might be put to better use.

 

Subscribe to get notified when I publish something new.

2 Responses

  1. You are right to link this to “99 barriers”. I’m sure that most people in UK have never heard of Eleventh Night any more than they celebrate 12 July. Northern Ireland is culturally quite distinct.

Talk to me...

%d bloggers like this:

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information on cookies and GDPR

Cookies and GDPR Compliance

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

General Data Protection Regulation

If you have voluntarily submitted your email address so that you can receive notifications of new posts, please be assured that I don't use your address for anything other than to do just that - and that's done automatically. I might use your address, if I knew how to, but I don't.

This blog does not make money, it does not carry sponsored content, it has no ads for which I receive any form of payment. If I review a place or a restaurant or a book, I don't receive any compensation from anyone. I wish I did, but that would require marketing myself and life is too short. If something changes, I will be sure to let you know.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe or manage subscription links at the bottom of every email you receive. When you comment on a blog post, Google Analytics tracks where you're posting from. This is stored and I can check my stats to see how many clicks I had today, where people clicked from, and what they clicked on. That's it. Nothing more.

I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, particularly to other commenters. If you want to have one of your comments deleted, the please get in touch with me at: mary@irjjol.com. I'm all for the right to be forgotten so will happily oblige.

So, in a nutshell, if you give me your email address voluntarily to subscribe to new posts or if you opt to subscribe to new comments, then you email is just used for this. Nothing else. Promise.

Close