Five minute guide to building a bonfire

Three years ago as part of an organised tour that looked at the history around 1690 and then took in bonfires, parades and even the field, I ended up in King George V Playing Fields after midnight to witness the big East Belfast bonfire.

Late this afternoon I talked to Rob about the construction effort that has gone into this year’s bonfire at that site. The guys were putting the final pallets on the top and ‘decorating’ the bonfire with various flags.

Talking to Rob about the Eleventh Night bonfire in King George V Playing Fields in East Belfast (mp3)

It wasn’t intended to be a thorough discussion of the pros and cons of bonfires, burning effigies, flags and the associated festivities. More a chance to hear about what goes into building a bonfire that size and that stays relatively safe.

It’s taken a team of “25 or 30 people” to build this one over the last seven days. It’s a bit like a wedding cake, with layers of different circumferences stacked on top of each other. A layer of pallets around the outside – heaviest ones at the bottom – with cable drums and looser scrap timber packed into the heart.

It’ll be lit as close to the top as possible so it burns from the top down, and while it will shrink in size over the night, it’ll be smouldering for the next day or so. Five or six thousand people are expected in the playing fields.

Rob explained a bit about the use of tyres – they’re double the height of the pallets so helps with height, particularly when pallets are in short supply. This bonfire is one of the few in Belfast that’s not working with Belfast City Council’s management scheme.

They’re not going to be bought off, they’re not going to be told what to do by council or by anybody else. This is a community-driven thing … I think what you’ll find is that tyres are phasing out, so I think that’ll go – natural wasteage – that tyres will probably phase themselves out. [So] you’re not really looking council money to buy your tyres off you.

Flags is always an emotive issue. People will always say, why are you burning the Tricolour? why are you burning the flag of another country? We have had peace here for quite some time, but Sinn Fein have never let off that their aim is a United Ireland. So whenever you see the like of the Tricolour flying in various other areas … that’s why it’s on the bonfire.

[Alan: If the shoe was on the other foot? If there was a Republican bonfire with a Union Flag at the top?]

That’s happened at every Republican bonfire I’ve ever known. At the end of the day, 14th, 15th of August, there will be flags burnt … and you just cope with it, deal with it. It’s one night, move on.

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  • carnmoney.guy

    Well good to see that the engineering skills that brought us the rope, ships and missiles is alive and well.

    Sadly while kids from all middle classes and the Catholic working will be celebrating their results in August, the bonfire design does not a further education make……

  • cavanman

    Should I be offended by all the weasly justification of burning the Tricolour at a public event or saddened that this goon take pride in the glory of stacking pallets and then burning them. Pissing away their potential, one Dutch Gold at a time.

  • SK

    “Should I be offended by all the weasly justification of burning the Tricolour at a public event”
    _

    It’s the fact that they consider this kind of thing to be normal that freaks me out. The burning of anyone’s flag is an act of hatred, yet these people take their kids to it like it’s an everyday thing. Not healthy.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Pissing away their potential, one Dutch Gold at a time.

    What the hell do you think this is, the Free State ?

  • orly

    SK

    Plenty of people have a hatred for the ROI. The mere fact that it exists grates a significant number.

  • SK

    “Plenty of people have a hatred for the ROI. The mere fact that it exists grates a significant number.”

    _

    Orly,

    Is a cultural pursuit that is based upon hatred really worth celebrating?

  • Actually there are good jobs in designing, making and displaying fireworks. So a good bonfire maker might do well to get an apprenticeship in a specialist fireworks company (one that puts together displays for specialist events, not the mass production in China for sale in the shops).

  • Zig70

    I was talking with a guy in work and he was missing the old boneys, where you had to go up the road and take down a telegraph pole for the centre piece. Took more skill than stacking pallets (according to him).

  • Mark

    Orly,

    You have hate towards the South and the fact that we exist grates with you ??? Who do fuck do you think you are ? It grates with you that my daughter has a safe environment to grow up in .

    It’s people like you that is holding back the rest of us . Aren’t you the sane guy threatening that the troubles will start again and that the protestants have a long memory .

  • every blue pallet is stolen property, when will our politicians stop turning a blind eye to this criminality.

    from the CHEP (owners of the blue pallet) website ”Please note: CHEP is the exclusive owner of all CHEP Equipment. CHEP never sells or transfers ownership of CHEP Equipment. CHEP remains the owner of the CHEP Equipment at all times. No person is entitled to purchase or sell CHEP Equipment, or use, dispose of or otherwise deal with CHEP Equipment, in any way that is inconsistent with CHEP’s ownership of CHEP Equipment.” http://www.chep.com/getdoc/a7fbc5e1-2263-4c90-accb-02362207d784/Request-For-Pickup.aspx

    shameful this criminality

  • Cahir O’Doherty

    Mark,

    I feel like I should point out that orly doesn’t hate the Republic. If you took the time to read the post correctly you’d see that they wrote ‘Plenty of people have a hatred for the ROI. The mere fact that it exists grates a significant number’ and not ‘I hate the Republic.’

    An important difference.

    ‘It’ll be lit as close to the top as possible so it burns from the top down.’ Now I have to admit that surprises me, any fire I’ve ever lit I’ve lit at the bottom because heat and flames rise, do they do this do prolong the burning or what?

  • ForkHandles

    I think if you light the bottom it will fall over Fred Dibnah stylee 🙂

  • galloglaigh

    Ah Protestant bigotry at its finest!

    Happy bigotfest people, they’ll never change!