Bingo might not seem to be a particularly cultural or historic game, but it holds huge social importance across Ireland, and the world.

Renaissance Italy influenced much of the world’s culture, in terms of art and technology, but it also gave the world an early form of bingo. From there, it spread across Europe but exploded in popularity after the Second World War in England. In Ireland, the Catholic Church introduced bingo in the sixties, and its popularity spread swiftly.

Bingo halls popped up in every city and town, with the game often used by the people of Ireland to socialise. It has evolved over the years, and now venues try many different methods to attract customers. Some provide facilities for the LGBT community for example, whilst others, such as the Lets Bingo club in Dundalk, have gone for a modern and colourful vibe to attract younger players.

As the troubling lockdown period comes to an end, players will soon be back at the tables looking to play their favourite games. There is a prevalent variant that the people of Ireland tend to play, which Cheeky Bingo outlines is the 90-ball variation, which is popular in both the UK and Ireland. The 75-ball variant is played in America, and on some online sites. However, the traditional Irish bingo player will be looking for a game of 90-ball and a handful of cards ready to be marked by a dabber. With that, and the easing of restrictions in mind, we have three great venues in Ireland worth checking out once things are back to normal.

The Star, Crumlin

Dublin has four Jack Pott’s sites, but the best can be found on Kildare Road in Crumlin. It is usually open from 12pm to 22:30pm seven days a week, and is in a repurposed building, as many of the more iconic halls are. The venue originally opened as a cinema in 1953 and has been a snooker club, roller disco and even a music venue, before being refurbished into a whopping 650-seat bingo venue in 2014. The venue has electric bingo, as well as a café serving paninis, wraps and even homemade cream cakes.

The Forum, Waterford

Another repurposed building is the Forum in Waterford, originally opened as The Regal cinema in 1937. In the late nineties, it doubled as a music venue, hosting country legend Johnny Cash, as well as The Corrs, David Gray and Van Morrison. Now it is primarily a bingo hall with 512 seats and is open every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday with eyes down at 8.25pm. There is also a Chinese restaurant downstairs, providing a complete night out for the people of Waterford.

Whitehall Grand, Dublin

The 1,000-seat Whitehall Grand cinema opened its doors in 1954, and whilst the screen is long gone, the building is now offered some protection. It was one of two Dublin bingo halls to be given protected status, with the front façade and box offices added to the protected list. It is a hugely popular venue with big prizes on offer during busy evenings of play. It is another Jack Pott’s venue too, which means bright and modern décor and of course, electric bingo.

Share This