Eleventh Night

Last updated

A typical loyalist bonfire prepared for the 11th Night in Newtownabbey, County Antrim Loyalist bonfire in Newtownabbey - geograph - 1394144.jpg
A typical loyalist bonfire prepared for the 11th Night in Newtownabbey, County Antrim

In Northern Ireland, the Eleventh Night or 11th Night refers to the night before the Twelfth of July, a yearly Ulster Protestant celebration. On this night, large towering bonfires are lit in many Protestant/loyalist neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland and are often accompanied by street parties [1] and loyalist marching bands. The bonfires are mostly made up of wooden pallets and tyres, with some reaching over 100 ft tall. [2] The bonfires are lit to celebrate the Glorious Revolution (1688) and victory of Protestant king William of Orange over Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne (1690), which began the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. The event has been condemned for displays of sectarian or ethnic hatred, anti-social behaviour, and for the damage and pollution caused by the fires. The flag of the Republic of Ireland, Irish nationalist/republican symbols, Catholic symbols, and effigies, are burnt on many bonfires. There have been attempts to make the event more family-friendly and environmentally-friendly. It is also known as "bonfire night", in common with other events in which bonfires are lit. [3] [4] [5]

Northern Ireland Part of the United Kingdom lying in the north-east of the island of Ireland, created 1921

Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom in the north-east of the island of Ireland, variously described as a country, province or region. Northern Ireland shares a border to the south and west with the Republic of Ireland. In 2011, its population was 1,810,863, constituting about 30% of the island's total population and about 3% of the UK's population. Established by the Northern Ireland Act 1998 as part of the Good Friday Agreement, the Northern Ireland Assembly holds responsibility for a range of devolved policy matters, while other areas are reserved for the British government. Northern Ireland co-operates with the Republic of Ireland in several areas, and the Agreement granted the Republic the ability to "put forward views and proposals" with "determined efforts to resolve disagreements between the two governments".

The Twelfth Ulster Protestant celebration

The Twelfth is an Ulster Protestant celebration held on 12 July. It began during the late 18th century in Ulster. It celebrates the Glorious Revolution (1688) and victory of Protestant king William of Orange over Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne (1690), which began the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. On and around the Twelfth, large parades are held by the Orange Order and Ulster loyalist marching bands, streets are bedecked with British flags and bunting, and large towering bonfires are lit. Today the Twelfth is mainly celebrated in Northern Ireland, but smaller celebrations are held in other parts of the world where Orange lodges have been set up. The Twelfth involves thousands of participants and spectators.

Bonfire controlled outdoor fire

A bonfire is a large but controlled outdoor fire, used either for informal disposal of burnable waste material or as part of a celebration.

Contents

Origins

Like The Twelfth, the Eleventh Night bonfires celebrate the Glorious Revolution (1688) and victory of Protestant king William of Orange over Catholic king James II in the Williamite-Jacobite War (1689–1691), which began the Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland. When King William landed at Carrickfergus in 1690, his supporters in Ulster lit bonfires to celebrate. Some of those who did not join in the celebrations were attacked by the Williamites. [6] There is also a belief that the bonfires commemorate the lighting of fires on the hills of counties Antrim and Down to help Williamite ships navigate through Belfast Lough at night. [7] Traditionally, both Catholics and Protestants in Ulster had lit bonfires at Midsummer, May Day ( Bealtaine ) and Halloween ( Samhain ), which were non-sectarian. [8] In the 18th century it also became a tradition for Ulster Protestants to light bonfires on 11 July to commemorate the Williamite victory, and for Catholics to light bonfires on 14 August to mark the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, [8] although this latter custom largely died out.

Glorious Revolution 17th Century British revolution

The Glorious Revolution, also called the Revolution of 1688, refers to the November 1688 deposition and subsequent replacement of James II and VII as ruler of England, Scotland and Ireland by his daughter Mary and her Dutch husband William of Orange. The outcome of events in all three kingdoms and Europe, while the Revolution was quick and relatively bloodless, establishing the new regime took much longer and led to significant casualties. The term was first used by John Hampden in late 1689.

William III of England 17th-century Stadtholder, Prince of Orange and King of England, Scotland and Ireland

William III, also widely known as William of Orange, was sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from 1672 and King of England, Ireland and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II. He is sometimes informally known in Northern Ireland and Scotland as "King Billy".

James II of England 17th-century King of England and Ireland, and of Scotland (as James VII)

James II and VII was King of England and Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685 until he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The last Roman Catholic monarch of England, Scotland and Ireland, his reign is now remembered primarily for struggles over religious tolerance. However, it also involved the principles of absolutism and divine right of kings and his deposition ended a century of political and civil strife by confirming the primacy of Parliament over the Crown.

Bonfires in Northern Ireland traditionally mark the night before the Twelfth. However, should the Twelfth fall on a Sunday, as it did in 2015, the public holiday is given in lieu on the following Monday. When this situation arises, some bonfires are lit on the Saturday night.

In the United Kingdom, public holidays are days on which most businesses and non-essential services are closed, although an increasing number of retail businesses do open on some of the public holidays. There are restrictions on trading on Sundays and Christmas Day in England and Wales and on New Year's Day and Christmas Day in Scotland. Legally defined holidays, analogous to "public holidays" in many other countries, are usually called bank holidays in the United Kingdom, but can also be referred to as "public holidays"; strictly, however, "public holidays" refer to "common law holidays", the observance of which derive from custom and practice.

Criticism

Ballycragy bonfire in Antrim. Irish tricolours have been set atop the bonfire and are intended to be burnt. The Ulster Banner and Union Jack are flying from streetlights in the foreground Ballycraigy Bonfire - geograph.org.uk - 491803.jpg
Ballycragy bonfire in Antrim. Irish tricolours have been set atop the bonfire and are intended to be burnt. The Ulster Banner and Union Jack are flying from streetlights in the foreground
A large bonfire in Newtownards on 10 July 2009 11th Night Bonfire - geograph.org.uk - 1394886.jpg
A large bonfire in Newtownards on 10 July 2009

Sectarianism and violence

A bonfire decked with Irish tricolours to be burnt Eleventh Night Bonfire.jpg
A bonfire decked with Irish tricolours to be burnt

Eleventh Night bonfires have involved sectarian and loyalist paramilitary displays. Symbols of Irish nationalism/republicanism (such as the Irish tricolour), and symbols of Catholicism, are often burnt on the bonfires. [1] [7] The tricolours on such bonfires are often daubbed with sectarian slogans such as "Kill All Taigs" (KAT) or "Kill All Irish" (KAI). [9] [10] Effigies, and posters of Irish nationalist election candidates, are also sometimes burnt, which has been condemned as "inciting hatred". [11] More recently, symbols of immigrant communities, especially the large Polish immigrant community, have been burnt on some bonfires. The Polish Association of Northern Ireland, and others, described this as "racist intimidation". [12]

Paramilitary Militarised force or other organization

A paramilitary is a semi-militarized force whose organizational structure, tactics, training, subculture, and (often) function are similar to those of a professional military, but which is formally not part of a country's armed forces.

Effigy Representation of a person through art

An effigy is a representation of a specific person in the form of sculpture or some other three-dimensional medium. The use of the term is normally restricted to certain contexts in a somewhat arbitrary way: recumbent effigies on tombs are so called, but standing statues of individuals, or busts, are usually not. Likenesses of religious figures in sculpture are not normally called effigies. Effigies are common elements of funerary art, especially as a recumbent effigy in stone or metal placed on a tomb, or a less permanent "funeral effigy", placed on the coffin in a grand funeral, wearing real clothing.

Loyalist paramilitary groups, such as the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), have also used Eleventh Night bonfires to hold "shows of strength", which often involve masked gunmen firing volleys of shots into the air. [1]

Ulster Defence Association Paramilitary and terrorist group

The Ulster Defence Association is the largest Ulster loyalist paramilitary and vigilante group in Northern Ireland. It was formed in September 1971 and undertook an armed campaign of almost twenty four years as one of the participants of the Troubles. Its declared goal was to defend Ulster Protestant loyalist areas and to combat Irish republicanism, particularly the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). In the 1970s, uniformed UDA members openly patrolled these areas armed with batons and held large marches and rallies. Within the UDA was a group tasked with launching paramilitary attacks; it used the cover name Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) so that the UDA would not be outlawed. The British government outlawed the "UFF" in November 1973, but the UDA itself was not proscribed as a terrorist group until August 1992.

Ulster Volunteer Force Ulster loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) is an Ulster loyalist paramilitary group. It emerged in 1966. Its first leader was Gusty Spence, a former British soldier. The group undertook an armed campaign of almost thirty years during the Troubles. It declared a ceasefire in 1994 and officially ended its campaign in 2007, although some of its members have continued to engage in violence and criminal activities. The group is classified as a terrorist organisation by the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, and United States.

Another issue that has been raised is drunkenness and alcohol-fuelled violence amongst those attending. [1]

Alcohol intoxication Physical effects due to ethanol (alcohol)

Alcohol intoxication, also known as drunkenness or alcohol poisoning, is the negative behavior and physical effects due to the recent drinking of ethanol (alcohol). Symptoms at lower doses may include mild sedation and poor coordination. At higher doses, there may be slurred speech, trouble walking, and vomiting. Extreme doses may result in a decreased effort to breathe, coma, or death. Complications may include seizures, aspiration pneumonia, injuries including suicide, and low blood sugar.

Environmental harm

Eleventh Night bonfires have raised health and safety concerns, as well as environmental ones. [1] [13]

Bonfires are often built to be as large as possible. Some have been built near houses and other buildings, which in a few cases caught fire. [14] Roads are often damaged and, according to the BBC, clean-up and repairs made to roads due to bonfire-related damage can "cost thousands of pounds", with some roads needing to be resurfaced. [1]

A major concern that has risen to greater prominence in recent years is the pollution they cause. In some bonfires, despite bans by bodies such as Belfast City Council, tyres are burnt. Tyres produce many toxic chemical compounds when burnt, and therefore pose a major health issue. [1]

Attempts to address the concerns

There have been attempts to make the bonfires more family-friendly and environmentally-friendly. In Belfast, a Bonfire Initiative has been set up. When joining the initiative, the community groups who organize bonfires agree to a number of conditions. A "bonfire committee" must be formed; the gathering of material for burning may only begin on 1 June; only wood can be burnt; and paramilitary flags and emblems must not be displayed at the bonfire site. In 2010, groups who forbore from burning nationalist flags or symbols were awarded an extra £100 funding. [7]

In 2009, Belfast City Council began promoting "beacons" as an environmentally-friendly alternative. It is a pyramid-shaped metal cage filled with willow wood-chips, and set on a base of sand to protect the ground underneath. The willow trees re-grow within a year of being cut down, making the bonfires more environmentally sustainable. By agreeing to use the beacons, the communities qualify for up to £1,500 of funding from Belfast City Council to hold a street party – as long as they do not fly paramilitary flags or burn tyres. Some loyalist communities in Belfast have begun using the beacons. The Orange Order, whilst recognising the importance of bonfires to Protestant culture, have issued calls for the organisers of bonfires not to burn tyres. [15] However, many others oppose the beacon, claiming that it infringes upon their traditions. [1]

See also

Related Research Articles

Orange Volunteers loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland

The Orange Volunteers (OV) or Orange Volunteer Force (OVF) is a small Ulster loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland. It was formed in 1998 by loyalists who opposed the Belfast Agreement and the loyalist ceasefires. Over the following year it carried out a wave of bomb and gun attacks on Catholics and Catholic-owned properties in rural areas, but since 2000 has been relatively inactive. The group has been associated with elements of the Orange Order and has a Protestant fundamentalist ideology. Its original leader was Pastor Clifford Peeples. The OV are a Proscribed Organisation in the United Kingdom under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Ardoyne district in Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Ardoyne is a working class and mainly Catholic and Irish nationalist district in north Belfast, Northern Ireland. It gained notoriety due to the large number of incidents during The Troubles.

Kingsmill massacre 1976 sectarian massacre during The Troubles in Northern Ireland

The Kingsmill massacre was a mass shooting that took place on 5 January 1976 near the village of Whitecross in south County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Gunmen stopped a minibus carrying eleven Protestant workmen, lined them up alongside it and shot them. Only one victim survived, despite having been shot 18 times. A Catholic man on the minibus was allowed to go free. A group calling itself the South Armagh Republican Action Force claimed responsibility. It said the shooting was retaliation for a string of attacks on Catholic civilians in the area by Loyalists, particularly the killing of six Catholics the night before. The Kingsmill massacre was the climax of a string of tit-for-tat killings in the area during the mid-1970s, and was one of the deadliest mass shootings of the Troubles.

Ulster loyalism Pro-UK political alignment in Northern Ireland

Ulster loyalism is a political ideology found primarily among Ulster Protestants in Northern Ireland who maintain a strong desire to remain part of the United Kingdom. Many Ulster Protestants are descendants of settlers from Great Britain in the 17th and 18th centuries. Like most unionists, loyalists are attached to the British monarchy, support the continued existence of Northern Ireland, and oppose a united Ireland. Ulster loyalism has been described as a kind of ethnic nationalism and "a variation of British nationalism". It is strongly associated with paramilitarism.

Ballycraigy housing estate

Ballycraigy is a housing estate in Antrim, south of Greystone and about 10 miles north of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

History of Belfast

The history of Belfast as a settlement goes back to the Iron Age, but its status as a major urban centre dates to the 18th century. Belfast today is the capital of Northern Ireland. Belfast was throughout its modern history a major commercial and industrial centre, but the late 20th century saw a decline in its traditional industries, particularly shipbuilding. The city's history has been marked by violent conflict between Catholics and Protestants which has caused many working class areas of the city to be split into Catholic and Protestant areas. In recent years the city has been relatively peaceful and major redevelopment has occurred, especially in the inner city and dock areas.

Orange Order Protestant fraternal organisation

The Loyal Orange Institution, commonly known as the Orange Order, is a Protestant fraternal order based in Northern Ireland. It also has lodges in the Republic of Ireland, Scotland and throughout the Commonwealth and United States. The Orange Order was founded in County Armagh in 1795, during a period of Protestant–Catholic sectarian conflict, as a Masonic-style fraternity sworn to maintain the Protestant Ascendancy. It is headed by the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, which was established in 1798. Its name is a tribute to the Dutch-born Protestant king William of Orange, who defeated the army of Catholic king James II in the Williamite–Jacobite War (1688–1691). Its members wear orange sashes and are referred to as Orangemen. The order is best known for its yearly marches, the biggest of which are held on or around 12 July.

Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland organization

The Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, or Loyal Orange Institution of Scotland, is the branch of the Orange Order in Scotland. It is a Protestant fraternity that defends and promotes Protestantism, Britishness, and the continued unity of the United Kingdom. It also campaigns against Scottish independence and was an official participant in the 2014 independence referendum. Its headquarters are in Bridgeton, Glasgow and it claims about 50,000 members, the vast majority of whom are working-class Protestants from the Scottish Lowlands.

Banners are a significant part of the Culture of Northern Ireland, particularly for the Protestant/unionist community, and one of the region's most prominent types of folk art. They are typically carried in parades such as those held on the Twelfth of July, Saint Patrick's Day and other times throughout the year. Generally these are organised by societies such as the Orange Order, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Royal Black Institution and the Apprentice Boys of Derry, and the banners are typically commissioned, and represent, a lodge within one of these societies. Banners are also carried by trade unions and church groups, and by marching bands. Most banners are painted by professionals and executed on silk, although canvas was a more popular material in the past. Most have a painting on each side, usually depicting different subjects, and the name and number of the lodge. Most banners have one subject per side, surrounded by flourishes, scrolls, and other decoration. Despite being in many ways a sectarian art form, Catholic and Protestant banners are usually very similar in terms of style and composition. Apart from subject matter, the main difference is colour: Orange Order banners make heavy use of the colour orange and to a lesser extent red, white, blue and purple, while Catholic banners tend to feature a lot of green.

Battle of St Matthews

The Battle of St Matthew's or Battle of Short Strand was a gun battle that took place on the night of 27–28 June 1970 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was fought between the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Ulster loyalists in the area around St Matthew's Roman Catholic church. This lies at the edge of the Short Strand, a Catholic enclave in a mainly-Protestant part of the city. Violence had erupted there, and in other parts of Belfast, following marches by the Orange Order. The battle lasted about five hours and ended at dawn when loyalists withdrew. The British Army and police were deployed nearby but did not intervene. Three people were killed and at least 26 wounded in the fighting, while another three were killed in north Belfast.

2011 Northern Ireland riots

The 2011 Northern Ireland riots were a series of riots between 20 June 2011 and 16 July 2011, starting originally in Belfast, before spreading to other parts of Northern Ireland. They were initiated by the Ulster Volunteer Force.

Bonfire Night Annual event dedicated to bonfires, fireworks and celebrations

Bonfire Night is a name given to various annual celebrations characterised by bonfires and fireworks. The event celebrates different traditions on different dates, depending on the country. Some of the most popular instances include Guy Fawkes Night in Great Britain, which is also celebrated in some Commonwealth countries; Northern Ireland's Eleventh Night, and 5 November in Newfoundland and Labrador. In various parts of Ireland, Bonfire Nights are held on St John's Eve, Bealtaine eve and Halloween. In Scandinavia it is known as Walpurgis Night. St John's Eve is also a very important celebration in Spain and Northern Portugal. Several other cultures also include night-time celebrations involving bonfires and/or fireworks.

During the 2012 North Belfast Riots sectarian disorder and rioting between loyalists and republicans occurred when rival parades, authorised by the Parades Commission, took place.

Belfast City Hall flag protests

On 3 December 2012, Belfast City Council voted to limit the days that the Union Flag flies from Belfast City Hall. Since 1906, the flag had been flown every day of the year. This was changed to no more than 18 days a year, which is in line with British government guidelines regarding government buildings. The move to limit the number of days was backed by the council's Irish nationalists and the Alliance Party; it was opposed by the unionist councillors.

The Hillcrest Bar bombing, also known as the "Saint Patrick's Day bombing", took place on 17 March 1976 in Dungannon, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a loyalist paramilitary group, detonated a car bomb outside a pub crowded with people celebrating Saint Patrick's Day. Four Catholic civilians were killed by the blast—including two 13-year-old boys standing outside—and almost 50 people were injured, some severely.

Donegall Arms shooting

The Donegall Arms shooting took place on 21 December 1991, when gunmen from the small Irish Republican paramilitary group the Irish People's Liberation Organisation (IPLO) burst into the Donegall Arms public house and sprayed it with gunfire, killing two Protestant civilians and injuring several others in the bar. The attack happened at a time when Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries were engaged in a large number of tit-for-tat killings.

On 5 April 1975 Irish Republican paramilitary members killed a UDA volunteer and four Protestant civilians in a gun and bomb attack at the Mountainview Tavern on the Shankill Road - the heart of Loyalist Belfast. The attack was claimed by the Republican Action Force believed to be a covername used by Provisional IRA (IRA) volunteers. Earlier in the day, two Catholic civilians were killed in a bomb attack in a Belfast pub carried out by the Protestant Action Force a name used by the Ulster Volunteer Force to claim some attacks. An elderly Catholic man was shot later the same night by Loyalists bringing the death toll to eight for the day.

The 2005 Belfast riots were serious loyalist riots and civil disturbances in Belfast, Northern Ireland in September 2005. The violence broke out after the Protestant Orange Order Whiterock parade was re-routed to avoid the Irish nationalist Springfield Road area. Clashes also broke out in several towns in County Antrim. The incidents took place amid a fierce feud between members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), who are also thought to have orchestrated the riots.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Mark Simpson (10 July 2009). "Turning hotspot into friendly fire". BBC News. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
  2. "The leaning tyres of Belfast: Protestants pile up incredible bonfires as they prepare for inflammatory celebration of Battle of the Boyne". The Daily Mail. 10 July 2013. Retrieved 11 July 2014.
  3. Simpson, Mark (12 July 2004). "Damping down the flames". BBC News Online . BBC . Retrieved 17 July 2011. [...] went out with one of the crews on their busiest night of the year - Bonfire Night. It is the eleventh hour of the eleventh night [...]
  4. "Village bonfire night hit and run driver 'was fleeing mob'". The Belfast Telegraph . Independent News & Media. 4 August 2010. Archived from the original on 23 July 2012. Retrieved 17 July 2011.
  5. Santino, Jack (1998). The hallowed eve: dimensions of culture in a calendar festival in Northern Ireland. Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky. p. 54. ISBN   978-0-8131-2081-2 . Retrieved 18 May 2011. While the term Bonfire Night once referred to Halloween, in Northern Ireland today it refers to the Eleventh Night [...]
  6. Childs, John. The Williamite Wars in Ireland. A&C Black, 2007. p.205
  7. 1 2 3 "The boy and the bonfire". Belfast Telegraph, 9 July 2010.
  8. 1 2 Gailey, Alan. "The Bonfire in North Irish Tradition". Folklore, Vol. 88, No. 1 (1977). pp. 3–38
  9. Bowcott, Owen (13 July 2006). "Army off streets for July 12". The Guardian. London.
  10. "News - An Phoblacht". Anphoblacht.com. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
  11. "Limavady bonfire: Election posters 'inciting hatred', says Sinn Féin" BBC News
  12. "Poland flags burned on bonfires across Belfast on 11 July" BBC News19 July 2012
  13. "Health fears over burning tyres". BBC News. 11 July 2007. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
  14. "Terraced homes gutted as blaze sparked by embers blown onto roofs in Belfast". 12 July 2016.
  15. "Orange Order appeals for no tyres to be burned on 11th night bonfires" The Newsletter