It has taken a decade of sustained effort, but the problem of illegal fires on Cork City’s traditional June 23 bonfire night has almost been stamped out.
Up to 15,000 people are expected to attend a series of city council-supported, family-friendly bonfire-night celebrations at five city parks tonight, the 10th anniversary of the programme.
When the scheme was launched, there were 70 illegal fires around the city on bonfire night. These cost €60,000 annually to clean-up — as well as being a drain on fire service and Garda resources.
The first family-friendly events, in 2007, attracted 7,000 people.
Last year, the number of illegal bonfires had reduced to 20 and the fire service reported “no incidents of note”.
The crowds have increased year-on-year, with 13,000 attending in 2016 and up to 15,000 expected tonight.
A spokesman for the council’s parks-and-recreation department, said a new generation views this kind of bonfire night as the norm: “There was a view, a decade ago, that we should make bonfires illegal, but we didn’t go down that road. We decided, instead, to acknowledge the city’s tradition of bonfire night, to hold onto that tradition, and to work with it.
“And councillors have always been very supportive. They took a long-term view and have voted every year to fund it.”
The city will spend €40,000 this year staging events in five city parks, involving 40 local community groups, and 150 volunteers.
Dowtcha Puppets have worked with local youth groups to build several jaw-dropping bonfire sculptures. These will be burned in a controlled setting at Kilmore Park, Knocknaheeny (5pm-7pm); at Pophams Park, Farranree (4pm-7pm); at Glenamoy Park, Mayfield (5pm-8pm); at Loughmahon Park, Mahon (5.30pm-8.30pm) and at Clashduv Park, Togher (5pm-9pm).
The events will include games, sports, bouncy castles, face-painting, and musical performances.
Cork City Fire Brigade emphasised that bonfires are illegal and urged anyone attending them to exercise caution.
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