We are in Lisburn, attending a local version of the burning of Lundy. The Finaghy Boys Blues Band are here–marching up the high street with pipes and drums–as are the Apprentice Boys, with their bowlers, sashes and swords. The night is glazed with ice, and people tuck their heads round their front doors and then withdraw, having silently watched the passage of the small parade. On a scaffold in an empty parking lot, the wax effigy of Lundy hangs, dressed in a black suit and boots, waiting to be burned. It was Lundy who ‘turned coat’, opening the city gates when the city of Londonderry was under seige by the Catholic forces of King James in 1688. He was caught by a group of apprentices and burned at the stake.
The speeches begin, the onlookers in the car park stamping their feet and blowing into their cupped hands. A portly man in his late twenties speaks about Anglo-Irish sell-outs – his high-pitched rhetoric obviously inspired by Ian Paisley – and ends with a desperate, ‘Wipe out the IRA scum!’ He is followed by the president of the chapter, bearing a ‘No Surrender’ flag. He is elderly and his voice nearly inaudible, and, as he begins to tilt into the fire, someone stops him and leads him away. The reverend vice-president of the chapter intones a blessing: ‘There will be no surrender. Oh, God of Jacob, God our refuge in these times of danger, hear us. I know His power is behind us, because we are the chosen people. But there are traitors in our midst today. There are treacheries all around us. They are encircling us! They were on this very spot but a few days ago. They came in and stole our cars to carry out their unholy activities!’
The boys and girls fidget in the cold. ‘Everyone comes for the bonfire,’ a boy confides. The children drift away, as the old men line up for the last march around the parking lot, attended by police at the front and rear.