Rathfriland’s first 11th Night festival ‘fantastic’

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Rathfriland’s first 11th Night festival ‘fantastic’ thumbnailThe steel structure beacon full of wood chips which was lit on the 11th night .

ORGANISERS of the family fun and cultural event held in Rathfriland on the Eleventh Night have been praised for their efforts.

The event was described as "fantastic" by those who attended and it is hoped it can now become an annual event for the town.

The traditional bonfire at the bottom of John Street was unable to happen due to an expansion of The Slopes housing development.

Instead Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council organised a family fun and cultural event in the Square.

Meanwhile a beacon was lit within the Orange Order's demonstration field on the Castlewellan Road.

Councillor Glenn Barr said it was "a fantastic night".

"It was brilliant to see such a good crowd out to support the young people who had done the ground work to see it come to fruition," he said.

"The atmosphere was great and everyone enjoyed themselves." Councillor Barr said the community realised there was a need for some fresh thinking around the bonfire and that the success could prove worthwhile in areas where bonfires lead to community tension.

"People were talking about what to do next so I met with them and we discussed different options and opportunities, and to see what vision they had," he said.

"They came up with the plan for a cultural event in Rathfriland so it progressed from them having conversations to us having meetings with council officers and exploring the possibility for funding. The young people then didn't have a bonfire to work on but this gave them something to work on themselves and to come up with ideas." Indeed the UUP councillor said they had visitors from further afield who were eager to observe the events.

"There were two men from France who had hitched lifts from Drogheda who were en route to the Mournes," he said.

"They stopped in the town to see the festivities and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They were also looking to hitch a lift to Banbridge the next day to see the parades and I did see them there." Similarly Councillor Elizabeth Ingram said the night was a testament to those who organised it.

"It seemed to be very well supported, " she said.

"After the first one, there are ways to look at providing something different and something which can be inclusive to the whole community." Councillor Ingram said council officials were also in attendance on the evening.

"Hopefully it did not cause too much inconvenience for the traders with the parking spaces being closed, " she said.

"I would like to thank them for their patience with that. The council did do their utmost so there was not too much inconvenience." Councillor Ingram said she was already looking forward to next year's event .

"Good Relations in the council would hope to have something next year which would be more inclusive for the whole community." Councillor Barr commended those who worked hard to get the event organised.

"I would like to pay tribute to the young people who were involved and got it working and I would also thank the Rathfriland district for providing the field and the fireworks," he said.


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