Finally – each year, I find myself glad whenever the 12th July weekend is over.
That weekend is when most of the country comes to a standstill. Unless you’re into the parades, marching and bonfires, you either leave the country, escape from Belfast or lock yourself indoors with enough food, drink and entertainment to tide you over.
The events seemed to have passed without too much disruption compared to previous years. Nonetheless, there were still police officers hurt, other people injured and way too many pallets and tyres burnt.
Indeed, it’s probably only in Northern Ireland where a long weekend means shops are shut and people stay home. K had visitors from England who were over for the weekend for a party and were keen to visit the Giant’s Causeway. The only day they could head up was the 13th, when all the marches were on, and I sincerely hope that they managed to reach the coast from east Tyrone unencumbered by road blocks or diversions. Otherwise, it’d be embarrassing to say the least – imagine being on a 1.5hr drive that turns into something much longer due to ‘tradition’ and ‘celebration of culture’.
And the reason for the quotation marks is this. John Gray wrote an illuminating article investigating the ‘history’ of the 12th for Culture NI, and I’ll let his article speak for itself:
The chances of difficulties which can colour perceptions of the Twelfth have grown exponentially as the number of parades has risen from 2,120 in 1985 to 3,801 in 2008/9. Clearly many of these are not traditional though Twelfth routes are more likely to be.
And not to mention the bonfires, where government agencies spend money to board up homes instead of spending money to arrest those who place illegal items (e.g. tyres) on the mounds, or dismantling them.
At any rate, I’m just glad the weekend is over. Things can slowly start returning to normal now, until next year comes around again. *groan*