08 July 2023

First of the July 11 bonfires in Northern Ireland to be lit

08 July 2023

The first of the bonfires to mark Northern Ireland’s traditional July 12 celebrations are to be lit later.

Those to be burned on Saturday night include a pyre topped with a white boat at Moygashel in Co Tyrone, which has garnered attention online.

The bonfire also features a banner reading “Moygashel says ‘No’ to Irish sea border”, referring to the unionist and loyalist communities’ opposition to post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Earlier on Saturday, the only annual Orange parade in the Republic of Ireland took place.

Orange lodges from counties Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan – along with guests from Northern Ireland – took part in the seaside procession in Rossnowlagh.

Meanwhile Sunday will see the annual Drumcree parade leave Carleton Street Orange Hall in Portadown, Co Armagh, to a church service at Drumcree Parish Church.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the parade being prevented from completing its traditional return route along Garvaghy Road.

The Parades Commission again this year refused permission for the return leg of the parade.

The stand-off at Drumcree hit the headlines in the 1990s with nationalist residents of the Garvaghy Road resolutely opposed to the parade passing through the area.

It led to violent clashes for several summers and political tensions necessitating a major security operation.

Most of the bonfires are set to be lit on July 11, on the eve of the marking of the victory of the Protestant King William over the Catholic King James II in the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

That victory secured a Protestant line of succession for the British crown.

Most of the hundreds of bonfires constructed in loyalist neighbourhoods across Northern Ireland pass off without incident, but several continue to be the source of controversy.

In previous years, there have been complaints from nationalist and cross-community politicians about their images being placed on the fires.

It is the busiest date for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service which usually deals with hundreds of calls related to the towering pyres.

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