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Why will lots of bonfires be lit across the country tonight?

You’re much more likely to know what it’s all about if you live in a rural area.
Jun 23rd 2015, 6:10 AM 59,214 61

YOU MAY NOTICE plumes of smoke across the horizon tonight, but don’t panic.

It’s more than likely people celebrating bonfire night, also known as St John’s Eve.

Feast of St John. Three-year-old Josephine McHale looks for her dog as a bonfire burns in the background celebrating the Feast of St John today outside of Belmullet, County Mayo. During the Feast many years ago a bull was slaughtered File photo of a St John's Eve bonfire in Belmullet, County Mayo. Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

St John’s Day is celebrated annually on 24 June – marking the birth of John the Baptist.

The night before is linked to the summer solstice and sometimes referred to as midsummer’s eve, but is known as ‘bonfire night’ in many parts of Ireland.

Fires were originally lit as part of a Celtic celebration to honour the goddess Áine, who was associated with the sun, fertility, and protecting crops and animals.

However, as with many pagan festivals, the Catholic Church took over the event and linked it to the birth of St John.

It’s completely separate to Guy Fawkes Nights in the UK, which takes place on 5 November.

Fires became symbolic with commemorating St John as he had baptised Jesus and in doing so, according to the church, brought the world out of darkness.

Rural areas

Bonfire night is much more commonly celebrated outside the capital, where its symbolic element has been somewhat reduced and it’s now seen as a celebration of summer, or a way to get rid of excess rubbish.

A spokesperson for Dublin Fire Brigade said there’s no increase in fires in the Dublin area at this time of year.

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“I’m 27 years in the fire brigade and I’ve never heard of it … Halloween is our bonfire night,” he told

It’s a different story in Cork, however, with the city’s fire brigade taking to social media to warn people about the dangers of illegal fires.

cork city fb

They also reminded householders and businesses to not leave material lying around that could be used for bonfires.

Are you planning on celebrating bonfire night, or have you never even heard of it? Let us know in the comments.

Read: See any piles of wood? Dublin City Council wants you to let them know

Read: “I’m not dampening all the fun, but parents need to be sensible” – Minister

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Órla Ryan


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