Warm tributes have been paid to Her Majesty the Queen as Carrickfergus hosted 90th birthday celebrations in her honour on Thursday evening.
Central to the celebrations, which included a fireworks display and family entertainment (photos here), was a beacon-lighting ceremony at Fisherman’s Quay - part of a chain of beacons lit across the UK to mark the royal milestone.
The short ceremony, which included the reading of a birthday message from Prince Charles to his mother, was led by the Vice Lord Lieutenant for Country Antrim, Richard Reade DL and MEA Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe.
“On 21st April 1947, the day of her 21st birthday, Her Majesty the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth was with her parents in Capetown, from where she broadcast a speech to the nation and commonwealth in which she said: I declare that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service,” Mr Reade said.
“There is no doubt that she has fulfilled this pledge completely and today as we celebrate her 90th birthday with peals of church bells, beacons and a host of other events throughout the country, we would do well to reflect how fortunate we have been as a nation to have had Her Majesty the Queen as our monarch for all these years.
“I commend Mid and East Antrim Borough Council for arranging this event and beacon lighting, which marks a very special day, and thank them also for their ongoing support for the Lieutenancy in County Antrim which is greatly appreciated by the Lord Lieutenant.”
Mr Reade concluded by reading out a letter written by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, one which he wished to be read at every beacon lighting ceremony throughout the country.
“I am delighted that so many people throughout the United Kingdom are coming together to light beacon in celebration of my mother, The Queen’s ninetieth birthday. It is a wonderful gesture which I know has deeply touched Her Majesty,” Princes Charles wrote.
“Beacons are to be lit on mountaintops, on beaches, in farmyards and on church towers, uniting us all in our heartfelt appreciation of the Queen’s lifetime of service to the United Kingdom and other realms, and to the Commonwealth.
“Since time immemorial, the light of beacons has relayed important messages across the land. This message we proclaim with the greatest pride and affection: Your Majesty, we all wish you a very happy birthday!”
Earlier in the day, the borough resounded to the peal of church bells to herald the start of a variety of birthday celebrations.