It’s been over 10 years since RnB singer Rihanna filmed the music video for her single ‘We Found Love’ in Northern Ireland.

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

While photographs of Rihanna filming against the backdrop of New Lodge youth caused a stir in the locality, national media picked up the story of a farmer and his barley field.

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Former DUP adviser Alan Graham has withdrawn permission for Rihanna and her crew to film at his estate on the outskirts of Bangor after challenging the singer’s lack of clothing.

At the time, a vehicle belonging to the video production team got stuck and Mr Graham brought in a tractor to help pull it out.

But when he arrived on the field, he realized that Rihanna was topless and so he intervened by asking her to get dressed.

He was keen to emphasize that this was not a confrontation and that they parted on perfectly polite terms.

The farmer said at the time that he had no idea who Rihanna was

Mr Graham’s farm is on the main road from Bangor to Belfast and his tree has since become one of the most photographed trees in Northern Ireland.

But the tourist attraction has been damaged by storms over the years and has been dying for some time, prompting it to dig deep to mark two milestones.

A few weeks ago, he and his wife Winifred planted a new cherry tree next to the decaying oak tree to mark both their golden wedding anniversary and the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

“Rihanna’s tree, as it is now known, appears to be completely dead. Recently, there appeared to be green shoots, but you can see the woodworm in it.

“There is still a branch leaning towards the roadway but if it breaks there will only be a stump left,” Mr Graham told Belfast Live.

Farmer Alan Graham in his field near Bangor, next to Rihanna's tree.
Farmer Alan Graham in his field near Bangor, next to Rihanna’s tree.

“We sought advice and suspect the tree has been there since the 1800s. My family has been here since 1914 when my grandfather took over the farm and he was there in his day.”

Explaining his decision to plant a new tree, he said: “I met my wife Winifred when she was 17 and we got married when she was 19. People were getting married much younger then, but times have changed!

“We planted the new cherry tree next to the old one Monday evening a few weeks ago as we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary in April.”

Rihanna’s tree incident in 2011 reached a global audience, with US media such as CNN and ABC picking up the story. Following this, Mr Graham received support for his position from unlikely places.

Carry On and EastEnders star Barbara Windsor said at the time: “I don’t blame him. How old is he? Does he need that in his time of life, see Rihanna take his top off? He doesn’t.”

Rihanna pictured in Alan Graham's barley field in Bangor in late 2011
Rihanna pictured in Alan Graham’s barley field in Bangor in late 2011

Despite this, the music video for ‘We Found Love’ won a Grammy Award for ‘Best Short-Form Music Video’, while the song itself topped the Billboard charts and became one of the biggest hits. by Rihanna.

In the decade since, Rihanna has cemented her place as one of popular music’s biggest artists, achieving billionaire status earlier this year, as well as creating her own makeup line, Fenty Beauty. .

She welcomed her first child, a baby boy, on May 13, but has not yet shared his name.

Mr Graham, meanwhile, represented the Ards and North Down area as a DUP councilor, including a one-year term as Lord Mayor, until three years ago, when he lost his seat in the 2019 local elections.

“I don’t know what nickname they’ll end up giving this tree. Maybe they’ll name it after Rihanna’s new baby, but to me it’s the Platinum Jubilee Tree,” he said. -he adds.

Read more: Ards and North Down get new Alliance mayor

Read more: Queen’s Platinum Jubilee: Earl and Countess of Wessex visit Belfast and Bangor

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