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Enniskillen pledges inclusive event for Queen's 90th

By Allan Preston

Published 31/03/2016

Dean Kenneth Hall accompanies the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and Lord Anthony Hamilton during the 2012 Royal visit to Enniskillen
Dean Kenneth Hall accompanies the Queen, Duke of Edinburgh and Lord Anthony Hamilton during the 2012 Royal visit to Enniskillen

Church leaders in Enniskillen have said they want to bring both sides of the community together to celebrate the 90th birthday of the Queen.

As part of the celebrations in April, more than 500 beacons will be lit up across the UK and overseas.

The Enniskillen beacon will be the most westerly celebration taking place in the UK and will recall a cross-community visit the Queen made to the Co Fermanagh town for her Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.

As the flames are lit at St Macartin's Cathedral, onlookers will be treated to a stunning spectacle as two powerful beams of light will be projected hundreds of feet into the sky.

The beams will cross paths as a symbol of the two communities in Enniskillen coming together.

In 2012, the Queen, who is now Britain's longest reigning monarch, attended a thanksgiving service in St Macartin's Cathedral.

Memorably, she immediately crossed the road after the service to visit St Michael's Catholic Church to meet members of the local community.

The ties Enniskillen has to Queen Elizabeth stretch back 70 years.

In 1946, when she was still Princess Elizabeth, she passed through the historic town as part of a royal tour of Co Fermanagh.

Looking forward to the celebration, a joint invitation to the beacon lighting has been issued by Dean Kenneth Hall of St Macartin's and Monsignor Peter O'Reilly (right) of St Michael's.

The invitation reads: "The Queen was warmly welcomed by the community of town and country when she came to Enniskillen.

"We return the honour she did us with our prayer and our remembering."

On the evening of April 21, a cross-denominational service will be held in St Macartin's Cathedral.

The beacon will be lit by Viscount Brookeborough, the Lord Lieutenant of Co Fermanagh.

As the two intersecting beams are switched on, the bright celebration will be accompanied by a peal of bells from the cathedral. The Queen will light the first of 500 beacons herself.

Northern Ireland will be holding six beacon lightings. As well as Enniskillen's event, a beacon will be lit at Slieve Donard in Newcastle Co Down.

Looking forward to the celebrations was Ulster Unionist councillor Robert Irvine.

"It's a very special occasion," he said. "The Queen is the longest-reigning monarch and I think she's done a very good job. In her role as monarch, she has a very unifying role."

Pointing towards the 2012 royal visit to Enniskillen and the formal state trip to the Republic of Ireland, Mr Irvine added: "It actually shows she's gone a long way to trying to facilitate the process of healing and bringing the two communities together."

Sinn Fein councillor Debbie Coyle said she was not yet sure if she could attend the event, but she also welcomed the celebration.

"I'm sure people that were there the last time the Queen of England was over will be happy enough to go," she said. "It's great to have cross-community events going on."

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