Londonderry tower burns to ashes in 'celebration'

Within two hours, the Temple was nothing more than ash. Photo / AP
Within two hours, the Temple was nothing more than ash. Photo / AP

They came. They saw. They burned it down.

David Best next to his 72-foot-tall (22-metre-tall) hand crafted wooden tower. Photo / AP
David Best next to his 72-foot-tall (22-metre-tall) hand crafted wooden tower. Photo / AP

Over the past week, more than 60,000 people have taken turns writing messages - often to loved ones in the grave or still in the midst of suffering - on a hand-carved wooden temple overlooking Northern Ireland's second-largest city, Londonderry.

Photo / AP
Photo / AP

The 22m structure was the brainchild of Californian artist David Best, who is famous for his temples built for the Burning Man festivals in Nevada. He was invited to build one in Northern Ireland, where bonfires are usually a magnet for community division.

Best, 70, spent two months overseeing the Temple project supported by 40 apprentice carpenters drawn from both sides of the divide. It was erected on a hilltop overlooking the River Foyle.

The result was so strikingly beautiful, many visitors expressed disbelief it was to be destroyed. But Best said that had to be the artwork's destiny.

"It's not a war memorial, or a mausoleum," he said before it was set aflame at the weekend. "It's a place for celebration."

More than 15,000 people bought tickets to stand, from a roped-off distance, as a half-dozen torchbearers came forth at nightfall. Among them were relatives of the 13 killed on Londonderry's Bloody Sunday in 1972.

Photo / AP
Photo / AP

Within two hours, the Temple was nothing more than ash.

Photo / AP
Photo / AP

- NZ Herald

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