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11th Night Bonfires

Updated on July 25, 2013


On 12th July 1690 beacons were lit as a guide for King William journey to the Battle of the Borne.

Bonfires are now lit as a representation of the traditional beacons.

The bonfires are generally lit on the night of the 11th July (depending on actual day of week - may be changed to a Friday/Saturday). This is the day before the main parade known as the 12th July. The bonfire in Moygashel, Dungannon, was lit on the Saturday night before the 12th - lit on 6th July 2013.

12th July is a traditional parade of Orange men and women. These parades are to commemorate the Battle of the Boyne which took place on 12th July 1690 when William of Orange beat the Catholic King James II.

The main source for burning bonfires was traditionally old tyres. These produced a lot of black smoke and fumes which were far from ideal.

More recently wooden pallets are being used as these are easier to build into a predesigned shape.

Local residents often ake this opportunity to leave out old furniture, sofas etc which are placed on the bonfire.

Generally bonfires are built as large as possible - the more wooden pallets etc the better.

On some occasions a grant from the local council could be applied for if your bonfire meets certain conditions eg only burn wooden pallets, no burning of flags etc.

Bonfire in Killicomaine, Portadown, Armagh in July 2013

Fire Stations

Fire stations are on high alert for the 11th night bonfires.

There is always a danger that the bonfire is too large and could get out of control. Maybe the bonfire is to near to homes and buildings.

Bonfires need to supervised. A bonfire community should be set up to control the project eg collecting materials for burning, building of the bonfire and the actual lighting and burning of the bonfire, what to do in the event of the bonfire getting out of control.

The ratio of the bonfire to buildings should be at least 1 to 5 eg if bonfire is 3 metres high then buildings should be 5 times away eg 15 metres from bonfire.

Never build a den or hut inside the bonfire - children could be trapped inside this.

No flammable liquids should be used to start the bonfire.

Burning tyres produce gas and particulars which are contained in the smoke.

Edgarstown Bonfire in Portadown, Co Armagh - July 2013

This is just the start of the making of the bonfire - see this bonfire burning - see below for video.
This is just the start of the making of the bonfire - see this bonfire burning - see below for video.

Bonfire Montague Street Portadown July 2013


Are you attending a bonfire this 11th July

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2012 bonfires

In July 2012 fire crews dealt with 95 call-outs relating to 11th night bonfires.

This was a decrease of 50% of the previous year total call-outs.

There was a major blaze in the Holyland area which caused a house to partially collapse. Seven fire engines together with a specialised team attended the fire. Some houses were evacuated as a precaution. No one was hurt or injured.


Problems can arise from some bonfires.

They can take a few weeks for materials to be gathered and can become an eyesore.

Possible pollution in the environment.

Can cause damage to nearby property if built too large or too near. Damage to road surface if near road.

Sometimes the bonfire can look like a landfill site - old fridges and sofas etc being littered on the site.

Bonfire in Killyman Road, Dungannon, County Tyrone - July 2013

Cunninghams Lane Dungannon Bonfire


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    • Mavis Hazelton profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Thanks for comment

    • jabelufiroz profile image


      5 years ago from India

      Impressive hub. Voted up.


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