by Dolores Bowman
Bingo is a part of our community, featuring in many events and fundraisers at a local level around County Clare.
It is a game that you may not realise is steeped in tradition, with its roots stretching back to Renaissance Italy, where it was called Il Gioco del Lotto d’Italia. From there, it made its way through France and eventually ended up in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
After World War II, it became very popular in village halls across the land, as people came together as a community to enjoy their games. The game also spread to the United States, where ThoughtCo reveal it was often used as a fundraiser for establishments, circumnavigating strict gaming laws in some states by being nonprofit.
For those who do not know, bingo is a game of chance, where players are given a card with a selection of numbers, usually between 1 and 75 or 1 and 90. The former is very much a game enjoyed in the United States, whilst Cheeky Bingo’s glossary of the game, states that the 90-ball version is a firm favourite in the UK and Ireland. However, many balls you use, the numbers are then pulled at random by someone referred to as the caller, and the first to mark off a line, or complete their card, wins a prize. Usually, several games take place on a single evening, and in recent years technology has even allowed different locations to stage the same game using digital technology.
A modern bingo hall is often a place of plush furniture, bright lights and lots of people. They’re popular but without the community feel of the early bingo industry. Most towns and cities have a modern venue for players to enjoy the game, whilst villages and smaller towns have a more rustic approach to bingo.
Sadly, bingo was one of the pastimes suspended over the recent pandemic, but as the world awakens from the slumber of 2020, games are once again popping up across County Clare. These are games taking place in village halls and often for good causes, all of which retain the charm and allure of post-war bingo, without the glossy razzmatazz of the modern bingo hall. If you wish to get back to your bingo roots in 2021, here are some great community games you should check out.
Doonbeg Parish Bingo
Doonbeg Parish Bingo has yet to restart after closing for the pandemic, but it is a hugely popular local game when it does. It used to take place at Doonbeg Hall every Friday night from 8.30 pm and was a well-attended local event that brought plenty of people to the area. With prizes of €40 for the line and €100 for a full house, it was also lucrative for the winners.
Cooraclare Bingo moved online during the pandemic and are expected to resume as normal after the summer. Once they open, the games occur at the community centre near Teernagloghane every Sunday night at 8pm. Their website confirms they are returning in the autumn, and one of their games has a guaranteed payout of €1,000.
The Abbey Hall in Clarecastle plays host to a game every Friday at 8.30pm when permitted and is another popular location for bingo in County Clare. It has a friendly, rustic vibe and is a great place to not only enjoy bingo but meet plenty of new friends, too.
They are not the only locations in County Clare; three others offer games when permitted including Ennis Bingo Club, Ennistymon Bingo and Kilkee Bingo Club.
by Dolores Bowman