© 2019 Charles McQuillan

The Bonfire Builders.

 

Loyalist bonfires, which can climb to 100ft or more, are built in recognition of the Protestant King William of Orange's victory in 1690 over the Catholic led forces of King James II at the Battle of the Boyne. Traditionally these bonfires are lit on the Eleventh night to mark the beginning of the 12th of July celebrations and marches. While most pass off without incident some are heavily criticised due to health and safety reasons, others are controversial for the placement of Catholic and Irish symbols onto the bonfires before being set alight.

 

After photographing bonfires in various stages over a number of years and coming to the realisation that I was repeating and contributing to a stereotype I wanted to challenge myself and perhaps the observer of the photograph by fixing my attention on the people responsible for building and protecting some of the pyres rather than the construct itself.

 

Completed over the course of four days in nine different locations across the province, these portraits of mostly young men, some of whom have become marginalised by a modern day society which frowns upon the tradition looks to begin a conversation that goes beyond the contentious issues generally associated with the bonfires.