Sunday, 19 July 2009

11th July, except on a Sunday

I've now had the chance to seen many a 11th and 12th July come and go but last weekend I think was the most bizarre yet. I had become used to how it usually runs but this time it changed.

The usual run of events in those predominantly loyalist areas of Belfast are for the youth's to gather wood leading up to the night of the 11th. This is then built into as gigantic a structure as possible and then burn it whilst having a street party - a party that usually combines trance music cheap Larger and cider and for the ladies bottles of WKD.

The bonfires and fireworks are quite a sight and as with this years, there is often a lot of the community out to watch them - adults, kids and a few of the older generation. Unlike the English bonfire night, these bonfires aren't very well controlled or organized though I’ve seen less go wrong here than at other bonfires when fireworks have headed towards the onlookers. Usually due to the typical N.I summer weather the wood gets soaked and ends up with several gallons of petrol being tipped on it to get it started.

Going back even just a few years, the bonfires were made largely from a mixture of household waste, old furniture etc, wooden crates and tires. The tires were usually built into the structure and placed on top of the fire and would catch light before rolling down the thing as the wood succumbed to the flames.

Thankfully the police have cracked down on that and the tires and other heavy polluting items that really shouldn't be burnt at all - let alone where people are gathered around and breathing in the smoke. However these things still have a tendency to perform a not so stable burning tower of Pisa impression. It’s not uncommon, aided by the wind, to have one end up on its side.

The other change in recent years is that they've largely moved those that used to block the streets to now be placed to the sides of the road or on derelict land.

This year though, the 'Bonies' (as they're locally called) weren't lit in North Belfast on the 11th night but on the night of the 12th/early hours of the 13th due to the postponement of the majority of the 12th July parades to the 13th. This threw us as we were wondering why the streets on Saturday night were deserted when you expect them to be full of folks wandering from one fire to the next.

The internet's a great thing and Norn Girl soon found out that this is a bit of a confusion and debate every time the 12th falls on a Sunday. So we went to bed happy to know that Sunday wasn't the last day before having to head back to work again and we even managed to get some rest before the best kind of working week… a short working week.

The bonfires and fireworks were soon over for another year. The majority of the 12th Parades aka - Orange Fest, went on on the Sunday. It was, as usual an interesting time of the year. I just wish tradition didn't have so much marching band music and now seemingly dance/trance music involved.


  1. And I thought it was a forest fire hehehe.
    Satellite TV for PC

  2. The tree still lives but a large patch of grass banking at the side of the road didn't wasn't so lucky!



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