Belfast Telegraph

Thousands watch Temples flames light up Derry sky

Thousands watch as tower filled with personal messages set on fire

By Eamonn MacDermott

As the flames from artist David Best's Temple reached high into the night sky above Londonderry they took with them the dreams, hopes and aspirations of countless people who had left their messages in the wooden structure before it was set ablaze.

In the days before the burning, visitors covered every inch of the ornate wooden structure with messages, memories and desires. Some were quite simple and succinct. One read "Peace please" while others expressed hope for the future or reflected on past pain.

Some were almost joyous like the one stating: "I hope me, my fiance and wains have all the luck, happiness and health and a wonderful happy future together as a strong family with lots of love to give." Then there were also numerous birthday greetings.

Some simply stated a name, such as the colourful 'Aoife' written in bright letters.

Others in contrast marked more sombre memories with many of the messages referring to people who died by suicide. Some were poignant in their brevity, such as "Seany RIP".

There were pages from newspapers, one marking the death and celebrating the life of the recently deceased tour guide Martin McCrossan.

One particularly poignant message was by a woman who referred to her husband's affair and her own cancer diagnosis before finishing: "I am full of anger and hurt, I want to release everything - all the lies, pain and betrayal into the fire. I will heal, I am healing."

Evelyn McCloskey from outside Dungiven had visited during the week and came back early on Saturday to see the structure from afar before it went up in flames.

She said: "I just felt I had to come here one last time. I left my own message for the flames and I think I will be quite emotional tonight as it burns."

When asked what her message had been she laughed and said: "I think it is a bit like making a birthday wish - it doesn't work if you tell anyone what it was."

Whatever her wish was, it joined thousands of others as the flames consumed the messages, the hopes and the dreams of people from across the country in what was hoped to be a healing process and a letting go of worries.

Background

Temple was erected on Kelly's field above the Waterside and attracted an unprecedented number of visitors over the time it was open to the public and people were encouraged to leave their messages to be consigned to the flames. With almost 20,000 people at the burning on Saturday night and as many again having visited the structure, the messages scrawled on random pieces of wood or scraps of paper were of desperation, poignancy, hope and redemption.

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