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Celebration of light for Queen's special day

By Linda Stewart

Beacons will light up the night sky across Northern Ireland tomorrow to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Following a walkabout in Windsor, the Queen will light the first of more than 1,000 beacons across the UK and other countries as she marks her birthday on the evening of April 21.

Later, members of the army cadet force will take beacons to the highest peaks across the UK, including Slieve Donard in Northern Ireland.

The event will be marked at Hillsborough Castle with a special 21-gun salute. The guns are to be fired by members of Queen’s University Officer Training Corps (UOTC) under the watchful eye of Gunners from 206 (Ulster) Battery Royal Artillery.

Whilst Her Majesty’s Official Birthday is not until June her actual birthday will also be marked by gun salutes in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff, as well as Northern Ireland.

A spokesman for Queen’s UOTC said: “It is an honour and a privilege for our officer cadets to fire the royal salute at Hillsborough Castle on such a momentous and memorable occasion as Her Majesty’s actual 90th birthday.”

Some of the 1,000 beacons being lit across the UK will be specially-built gas-fuelled structures while others will be traditional bonfires or brazier-mounted on tall wooden posts.

They will be carried to the summits of Ben Nevis. Mount Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Slieve Donard.

In Northern Ireland, the most westerly beacon will be lit in Enniskillen by Fermanagh’s Lord Lieutenant, Viscount Brookeborough, accompanied by an inter-denominational community celebration in St Macartan’s Cathedral where the bells will peal.

Beacons will also be lit on top of the motte at Antrim Castle Gardens, Carnmoney Hill, Scrabo Tower, Castle Park in Bangor, Burr Point in Ballyhalbert, Armagh’s Palace Demesne and Fisherman’s Quay in Carrick.

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