Making a Bingo comeback…but it was tougher than rugby!

Our man Frank with an exclusive report on his Bingo comeback; Some ‘self-assessment’ on why he doesn’t cheer on England’s footballers or Leinster Rugby…and the return of the famous St Stephen’s Day Walk in Creggs

It’s a beautiful but very cold Friday night, and Carol and myself are heading to the local Creggs National School Hall to partake in the Bingo Night that is being held as a fundraiser for the school itself.

Having been warned about freezing fog and black ice and all kinds of treacherous road conditions, we are wondering will anyone turn up at all, or will it instead be a ‘washout’. However, we needn’t have worried as the hall was well and truly filled, proving once and for all that bingo players are made of stern stuff.

On our way in we bought our bingo books and, not knowing much about what we were letting ourselves in for, we decided to buy two double books – but that was a huge mistake. While regular players on our table had no problem keeping up with the numbers, given that we had to mark double books, we found it very difficult to stay in touch and were constantly trying to catch up.

I know you won’t believe me, but by the time we had played three of the eleven games, we were completely shattered and ready for bed. I played rugby and football for many years and don’t think I was ever as tired after any game as I was on Friday night! If anyone ever told me bingo was a tougher game than rugby I would have never believed them.

However, the good news is that we were definitely on the most successful table in the place, as between us all we had at least six ‘checks’ – although sadly neither Carol or I struck gold. But one of my tickets came out in the raffle and I won myself a bottle of white wine.

During the night we got an insight into the popularity of bingo. Some of our table companions told us they can play up to four times a week. Apparently there is bingo in Castlerea, Moylough, Ballinasloe, Athleague, and Athlone – among other places – on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Our fellow players told us they are regular players at some or all of those places every week. I don’t think we will be joining them any time soon, as we would have to bring our bed with us, given how demanding it was.

However, I will say it was a good night’s fun, it was a great chance to meet friends and neighbours, and as a fundraiser and as a night out I would say it was a great success.

If it’s repeated next year, and if my pacemaker keeps me ticking over, I will definitely buy single books and bring a proper marker, and maybe that way I might just get through a night at the bingo without wilting to the point that I almost fall asleep!

Offside! Musings on not supporting England (or Leinster)

On Saturday evening, two players who I support all the time when they play for Manchester United – Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire – were playing for England in the quarter-final of the World Cup. Well, the truth is that despite only ever having been in France for a weekend (in 2016), I was hoping for a French victory.

And on this desperately cold Monday morning, two days after France eliminated England, I am struggling to understand exactly why I can only support players when they wear a particular jersey. In case you think this strange phenomenon only occurs when England are playing, you would be very wrong. To the eternal annoyance of my son, Mark, it also applies to Leinster Rugby. In truth, I am a little ashamed at my dislike of the hugely successful Irish provincial side.

To be anti-England – purely in sporting terms – is nearly an automatic Irish reaction, but why do I not support a local team, packed with Irish international players – who I absolutely love when they wear the green jerseys of Ireland? When they line out in the blue of Leinster, I cannot cheer for them.

I suppose the anti-English thing is political – and understandable, considering our long mutual history – but when I reflect on my anti-Leinster stance, the best I can come up with is the perceived notion that they are predominantly a ‘Dublin 4’ outfit. Of course when I think of that, it also doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, as quite a number of the team hail from other counties – including Athlone’s Robbie Henshaw, Wexford’s Tadhg Furlong, Wicklow’s Jack Conan, and Mayo’s Caelan Doris – so I now wonder if I am simply jealous of their huge recent successes.

Anyway, I have decided that from now on, while it may take me a while to actually support them, I will no longer hope they lose (unless they are playing Munster or Connacht), especially when playing against the money-rich French teams.

England, however, is a little different, and while I understand that English money kept this country going for many, many years, I have to admit that on this Monday morning, I am still happy that Mbappé and his teammates managed to – rather luckily – get past the English challenge. Allez la France!

Welcome return of St Stephen’s Day Walk

For the best part of 30 years St. Stephen’s Day in Creggs was associated with the iconic Barrie Harris Memorial Walk. Over the years hundreds of thousands of euro were raised for many different charities.

A few years ago the Harris family felt they could no longer stay involved to the huge extent that they had been, and so the Creggs Charities Walk was born, although the unwelcome arrival of Covid didn’t do the new event any favours. This year, however, it is back in all its glory, and at 12.30 on Stephen’s Day everyone is invited to come to O’Roarke’s in Creggs, meet up with your friends and neighbours, and head off for the beautiful healthy walk up over and down the mountain.

From day one, the halfway house of Mary Devaney has been open for all kinds of festive treats, and once again Mary D and her willing group of family members and friends will be on hand to revitalise your spirits and keep you fully fuelled for the second half of the walk.

This year, four charities will benefit from the proceeds of your efforts – ACT for Meningitis, Galway Hospice,  Mayo-Roscommon Hospice, and the Sunshine Room in Creggs National School. Sponsorship cards are available in Mikeen O’Roarke’s, so try and get them as soon as you can.

I have missed out on the last couple of years due to various health problems (hangovers not included) but this year I hope to be fully fit and rearing to go and am looking forward to another enjoyable, uplifting Stephen’s Day.

The good news is that if your muscles are still functioning, Mikeen has music on that evening so you can dance your aches away to Sean Donoghue, with his show kicking off at 5 pm. Don’t ask him for the Green and Red of Mayo.

Looking forward to seeing you all and I won’t be annoyed when you all pass me out on my way ‘round lovely Mount Mary.

And finally…

Finally for this week, over the road in Castlecoote Lodge, Terry Leyden tells me that this Saturday night is ‘Customers Night’ – and after going down so well a couple of weeks ago, young Kenneth McCormack is back again to provide the entertainment.

Sadly, I won’t be there as I have a prior appointment (that sounds very important) in Dublin at our daughter’s place, but I have no doubt it will be a great night’s fun. There might even be another singsong – the proprietor himself might even do a turn. Anyway, all are welcome, and if you’re not a regular you can tell Terry I sent you – hopefully that won’t get you barred!