04 July 2023

Towering bonfire bears banner to raise money for sick girl

04 July 2023

The organisers behind a towering bonfire in Co Antrim are helping fundraising efforts for a sick girl.

The bonfire in Craigyhill, Larne, reached more than 200ft high last year, which was hailed by organisers as an unofficial world record.

This year they said an attempt to have the record officiated by Guinness World Records was abandoned and the fundraising efforts were redirected to a local toddler who is undergoing cancer treatment.

The Just Giving campaign for Pia Grace, posted by the Craigyhill Bonfire Committee, has raised more than £5,000 so far.

A banner on the giant bonfire reads “All donations to this bonfire will go to little Pia-Grace & her family”, above a link to the donation site.

The bonfire is nearing completion before being ignited on the eve of traditional July 12 celebrations.

Hundreds of bonfires are constructed in loyalist neighbourhoods across Northern Ireland every year.

Most 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.

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

The size and proximity to houses of the Craigyhill bonfire meant nearby properties last year had their windows boarded up and were hosed down to protect against the heat.

Last year a man died after falling from a separate bonfire in Larne, in the Antiville estate.

Another bonfire in Moygashel, Co Tyrone, has garnered attention online for being topped with a white boat.

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.

The fires are traditionally ignited on the eve of the Twelfth of July – a day when members of Protestant loyal orders parade to commemorate the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

The battle at the Boyne river, north of Dublin, saw King William of Orange defeat Catholic King James II to secure a Protestant line of succession to the British crown.

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