On the 12th of July at the stroke of midnight, Bonfires are lit across Northern Ireland, to commemorate The Battle of The Boyne
when, in 1690, troops loyal to Protestant King William III of Orange defeated his Uncle, the deposed Catholic King James VII of Scotland thus ensuring the continuation of the Protestant Monarchy.
The bonfires that are build in Loyalist (Protestant) areas represent the beacons that were lit to spread word of the success of William at the Boyne and are a very contentious issue here in Northern Ireland. In the past, village waste piles or middens, were burnt and this tradition continues as broken and unwanted household furniture is added to the more suitable building material of wooden pallets. (Bonfires are often referred to as the 'boney' because of all the animal bones that would have been on the middens).
Burning the Irish Tricolour and other emblems of Nationalism (Catholic) is a common practice. The colours of the Tricolour represent a unified view, with the Green representing Catholic Ireland, Orange the Protestants of Ireland with white symbolising peace, yet the deliberate burning of the flag is a direct response to the notion of a united and independent Ireland and as such is a provocation, saying a big fat No to the idea.
Each area has their own 'boney' and the weeks running up to the 12th of July are tense as each area defends the boney from attack from Nationalists wishing to preemptively burn the boney. They also have to contend with raids from other Loyalist areas scavenging for wood for their own bonfire!
Here, the boney has been adorned with a Tricolour in preparation for the 11th night lighting.
I did ask one of the lads how he felt about buying a Tricolour to burn, he snorted derisively and told me that he never bought them, he stole them.