Victory in Europe: V.E. Day celebrations in Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh

Victory in Europe Day on 8th May 1945 saw locals of Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh mix with an international crowd as they lit a bonfire to mark Allied victory.

On the night of 8th May 1945, almost the entire population of Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh celebrated VE Day in the streets. The town was "lavishly decorated" with flags, banners, and streamers.

As reported in the Impartial Reporter newspaper, it was not just locals who took to the streets to mark Victory in Europe.

The general spirit of friendship which was abroad quickly enveloped all those who came in to enjoy the time of rejoicing. It was an interesting sidelight on the changes which the European upheaval had brought about, to notice that on this memorable occasion Irvinestown had taken on a cosmopolitan complexion in that there were to be found amongst those participating in the celebrations people from widely separated parts of the Universe.

Irvinestown Pipe Band played a selection of entertaining tunes as they paraded the streets. They led a crowd of dancing, laughing, and singing followers up to the bonfire in the field of Captain William Shutt. During the celebrations, many others took on the leading of the parade. A Canadian airman borrowed the band leaders’ head-dress and marched alongside other Royal Air Force personnel. A 6-year-old boy also headed up the parade, proudly flying the Union Flag and the American Stars and Stripes.

As darkness fell over the Co. Fermanagh town, partygoers grasped bullrushes dipped in oil and set fire to the bonfire where an effigy of Hitler burned into the night. After the outdoor celebrations, many made their way to the local Orange Hall to dance the night away and bring an end to Victory in Europe Day in Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh.

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