'Eleventh Night' bonfires to be lit across Northern Ireland ahead of Twelfth of July celebrations

The lighting of the Corcrain Redmanville Bonfire in Portadown, Co Armagh. Credit: Press Eye

Bonfires are set to be lit in loyalist areas across Northern Ireland on Tuesday evening to usher in the main date in the Protestant loyal order parading season.

Some of the pyres, mainly constructed by stacking wooden pallets, have already been torched in recent nights – but the vast majority will be ignited later tonight.

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

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

DUP MP Sammy Wilson said that community efforts in Craigyhill, Larne, to break a world record with its towering bonfire was an example of “what is best in Northern Ireland”.

“This is truly a community venture, and one which has involved people from right across the community and it is a demonstration of how positive engagement in our history and culture can bring people together,” he said.

Most of the estimated 250 bonfires pass off every year without incident, but a number continue to be the source of controversy.

On Saturday night, a bonfire in Moygashel, Co Tyrone was lit with an Irish tricolour and a poster of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the top of it.

Police are treating the incident as a hate crime.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said he believed the overwhelming majority of unionists in Northern Ireland opposed the placing of the Irish flag and picture of Mr Varadkar on the fire.

The towering pyre in Moygashel, themed as an anti-Northern Ireland Protocol bonfire, also had a boat placed on top of it.

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