Day 97

pic by Proinsias Mac a’Bhaird

Distancing from fire

Bonefire night tonight. [Sp? – Ed.] And I do know what I am doing with that extra ‘e’ in that word, so ignore BracketsHead. That is how we pronounced the word round our way where I grew up [tautology? -Ed] (I’ll give you that one). Of course, round our way when I grew up (happy now?), bonefire night was the 11th of July, so what am I on about saying 23rd of June is bonefire night?

Well, let me tell you a thing or two about bonefires. For a start, they predate the establishment of The Orange Disorder, and are not exclusively the property of loyalists. St Patrick, indeed, had a few episodes with bonefires and druids and what have you. Secondly, the word in Irish for bonefire is tine chnámh, which translates literally as ‘a fire of bones’, so the pronunciation of the English word down or up or round our way was actually more in keeping with its origins. The whole ‘bon fire’ nonsense always sounds prissy and snobby to my ears. Like saying butcher with an -oo- sound instead of the -u- sound to be found in the word ‘gull’.

Anyway, tomorrow is the Feast of John the Baptist, and to celebrate the eve of the feast, bonefires are traditionally lit. Or were. The tradition does live on in certain parts of the country, most noticeably on the Western seaboard in Gaeltacht areas. The pic above is hot off the press from Arranmore, and will be set alight pretty soon. Speaking of which, I have to go and prepare my own bonefire, which will be burnt in the brand new brazier wot I bought the Part-Time Wife for her birthday – because that is what she asked for. Lighting a bonefire where I live will confuse the Hell out of the locals, which is reason enough for doing it, I think. Also, everyone loves a good fire, don’t they? It brings out the pagan in us. But I absolutely refuse to indulge in dancing naked around my one tonight. Or in sacrificing the odd resident teenager on it, no matter how great the temptation.

I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow. Maybe.


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