Belfast Telegraph

Queen's 90th birthday: Northern Ireland communities united for royal celebration

By Staff Reporter

A poignant crossing of lights beamed into the dark skies above Enniskillen last night as a symbol of two communities coming together in celebration of the Queen's 90th birthday.

In many ways the symbolic gesture wasn't just to commemorate the special occasion, but an opportunity to celebrate a community spirit that runs deep within the town.

Viscount Brookeborough, Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant for Co Fermanagh, also lit a birthday beacon, while Enniskillen Castle was bathed in purple light for the special occasion.

Nearby there were royal-themed refreshments from local cafe the Jolly Sandwich Bar, while St Michael's Band and Portora Royal School played music on Darling Street.

The Very Rev Kenneth Hall, the Dean of Clogher, held a thanksgiving service in St Macartin's Cathedral, and was assisted by representatives from all the local churches.

The Queen's short walk across the street from the Cathedral to St Michael's Catholic Church in 2012 was seen as hugely symbolic, and still is.

"This is about building community, bringing people together," said Dean Hall.

"Just like The Queen did in 2012, we are trying to show tolerance and respect to all.

"We walk the same street, we breathe the same air, we share the same feelings." Assisting Dean Hall were the Rev David Cupples of the Presbyterian Church, the Rev Stephen Woods of the Methodist Church and the Rt Rev Monsignor Peter O'Reilly of the Catholic Church.

"The Queen knew very well what she was doing when she came here, the crossing of the street was about togetherness, about bringing us together," said Mgr O'Reilly.

"It fills me with pride to see so many people turn out for this event," he added.

Ken Rainey, president of the Rotary Club of Enniskillen, which helped organise the ceremony, said the event "symbolised what true community spirit is all about". "We are recognising that the Queen is really someone who is special to all of us, to the entire community," he said.

There was a nice touch during the street party when Peggy Bogue, who shares her 90th birthday with the monarch, was invited to cut a birthday cake as First Minister Arlene Foster led a sing-song to commemorate her big day.

Afterwards Mrs Foster said Enniskillen "is renowned for being a community that works together". "The Queen has shown us to value difference, not to be afraid of difference and to respect the other," she added.

"We shouldn't diminish ourselves in our own identities but we should celebrate the fact that we have difference, and I believe we do that very well in Enniskillen."

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