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Irish farmer who famously told Rihanna to cover up plants new tree in her honour

The dual carriageway outside Bangor was reduced to a single lane as curious locals flocked to catch a glimpse of the star as she cavorted through the barley field, at one stage removing her top.
Rihanna during filming in 2011

Rihanna during filming in 2011

Richard Sullivan

A lone tree in a Co Down field made famous by RnB singer Rihanna has a new pal.

Known as Rihanna’s Tree, the dying fairy thorn became instantly recognisable around the world when the star came to Northern Ireland to shoot a video for her single We Found Love.

Sadly the tree which stands on a hill in a field that runs alongside the busy dual carriageway between Belfast and Bangor has died.

And farmer Alan Graham who found himself at the centre of international attention when he marched up to Rihanna when she took her top off demanding she cover herself up, has planted a replacement.

The former Ulster Unionist councillor, whose family have farmed the land for more than a century, said he planted the sapling to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and his own golden wedding anniversary.

“There has been a lot of tree planting to mark the Queen’s Jubilee,” he said.

The new tree beside Rihanna's tree (right)

The new tree beside Rihanna's tree (right)

“So I thought it would be a good opportunity to do it. It is also mine and Winnifred’s 50th wedding anniversary.”

But it hasn’t stopped local people already dubbing the new arrival `Noah’s Tree’ after Rihanna’s newborn son.

It is 12 years since the star filmed the video for 'We Found Love'.

The filming generated mass amounts of local public interest here, with thousands of fans flocking to filming locations to try to catch a glimpse of the then 23-year-old star in action.

The dual carriageway outside Bangor was reduced to a single lane as curious locals flocked to catch a glimpse of the star as she cavorted through the barley field, at one stage removing her top.

Farmer Alan Graham pictured at his farm on the Belfast Road outside Bangor in Co. Down

Farmer Alan Graham pictured at his farm on the Belfast Road outside Bangor in Co. Down

The music video was shot on location in parts of Co Down as well as the New Lodge area of north Belfast, in late September 2011.

While photographs of Rihanna filming against a backdrop of New Lodge youths caused a stir locally, national news outlets picked up on the story of a farmer who bemoaned that things were getting 'inappropriate' during her filming in his barley field.

Mr Graham withdrew his permission for Rihanna and her crew film in his field, after taking issue with Rihanna's clothing, focusing on the fact that she was wearing a red bikini top, which he reportedly called an "inappropriate state of undress."

Speaking at the time Mr Graham, a devout Christian, said he thought it was inappropriate.

“I had my conversation with Rihanna and I hope she understands where I'm coming from. We shook hands."

He admitted he did not know who the singer was when he was asked if the field could be used.

He later advised: "I wish no ill will against Rihanna and her friends. Perhaps they could acquaint themselves with a greater God."

We Found Love was huge global hit with the video winning a number of awards including a prestigious Grammy.


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