Gunshots ring out in the village as Northern Ireland pays tribute to the Queen

Death of Queen Elizabeth II

A 96-gun royal gun salute took place at Hillsborough Castle as people across Northern Ireland continue to mark the death of the Queen.

The sound of cannons echoed through the small village of Co Down as reservists from the 206 Battery 105 Regiment Royal Artillery fired the salute – each round marking a year in the Queen’s life.

In attendance were Lord Caine, Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Steve Baker, Minister of State for Northern Ireland.

As the volley ended after 12 minutes, there was a moment of silence before cheers broke out from the large crowd gathered outside the castle.

As the UK enters a period of official mourning, Northern Ireland will largely focus on the small village of Co Down. It houses the Royal Residence of Northern Ireland which will be the center of ceremonial activities.

A major security operation is underway in the village, with traffic restricted ahead of what is expected to be a large number of visitors paying their respects over the next few days.

Last year, Royal Hillsborough became the first place in Northern Ireland to achieve royal status.

Death of Queen Elizabeth II
Floral tributes are laid at the gates of Hillsborough Castle in Co Down (Jonathan McCambridge/PA)

Hundreds of floral tributes were left at the castle gates, with people traveling from all over Northern Ireland to pay their respects.

Among those who paid their respects at the castle was Olympic gold medalist Dame Mary Peters.

Karen Irwin traveled to Hillsborough with her family from Fivemiletown.

She said: “The Queen means a lot to us, she was truly the epitome of service to her country.

“We are very sad, it really is the end of an era, it’s hard to put into words.”

Death of Queen Elizabeth II
Council workers and local community representatives hang a mural on a wall in Crimea Street, off Shankill Road in Belfast (Mark Marlow/PA)

Away from the village of Co Down, people were gathering outside a mural of the Queen on Belfast’s Shankill Road on Friday morning to leave floral tributes.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councilor Christina Black, and Lord Lieutenant Dame Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle opened books of condolence at Belfast City Hall.

Members of the public will be able to sign the books until the day of the state funeral.

The Jardin du Souvenir is also open at the Town Hall for anyone wishing to leave floral tributes.

Belfast Mayor Christina Black said: “Queen Elizabeth has made a valuable contribution to building peace and strengthening reconciliation between the people of these islands.

“As a sign of respect, I will be opening condolence books at City Hall for the townspeople to sign and send their condolences to his family at this sad time.”

Death of Queen Elizabeth II
People gather at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland to pay their respects (Peter Morrison/PA)

Books of condolence are open across Northern Ireland including Londonderry’s Guildhall, Antrim Castle Gardens, Ballyclare War Memorial Park, Mossley Mill Civic Square, Bangor Town Hall, the Arts Centre, Newtownards, Ballymoney Town Hall, Coleraine Town Hall and Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Center in Limavady.

Events are being canceled across Northern Ireland in tribute to the Queen. A tweet from the Northern Ireland Assembly also said there would be no access to the Parliament Buildings in Stormont until further notice.

The NI International Air Show, which was due to take place in Portrush this weekend, has been canceled as a mark of respect.

Stormont chairman Alex Maskey has previously said he is liaising with officials to ensure Stormont Assembly can pay their respects.