Drive-In Bingo – A Victim of the Scourge of Insurance Avarice

Ready and waiting for their numbers to come up at last year’s Drive-In Bingo session in Castleisland were, from left: Mary O’Sullivan, Eileen Walsh, Maureen Walsh, Margaret Nolan, Eilish Conway, Ann Foran, Maureen Sugrue and Margaret McSweeney. ©Photograph: John Reidy
A section of the Castleisland Co-Op Mart yard filling up before Munster’s only Drive-In Bingo Session on a summer Sunday afternoon last year. ©Photograph: John Reidy

That Romantic Ireland, if it ever existed, is dead and gone is now well and truly confirmed as its coffin is rained with rusty nails.

The romance of rural Ireland was in the spontaneity of its people and in the rough and tumble of their past-times and pursuits.

But the land is now being stalked by an animal more avaricious that any other before it.

Rough and Tumble

What rough and tumble is there in ‘Drive-in Bingo’ you’d have to wonder. What’s in it that the insurance moguls have driven and priced it out of existence and off the calendar of events for this year at least ?

In other parts of Rural Ireland there are beer drinking and kite surfing festivals being buried by massive insurance demands to the extent that they’re being cancelled altogether.

Local Charities Benefited

In the case of the Castleisland Drive-In Bingo, it acted as a fundraiser for a variety of local charities over the few years of its existence.

These are charities for special units in schools that would have to be funded by the government of the day.

And yet, the government of all the days seems helpless and even heedless to the cry for insurance justice from the very heart of Rural Ireland itself.

Organising Fun Events

How can it be put across to a seemingly heedless government that people up and down through the same Rural Ireland – people who are being denied services and even basic human rights – are out there organising fun events in their communities so that the services so badly needed in hospitals and schools don’t have to wait for an inert and unresponsive government department to cough up the funds so vital to the welfare of the vulnerable and of the community as a whole.

Driven off the Calendar

The Drive-In Bingo in Castleisland may have been driven off the calendar for 2019 but the organisers have not thrown their collective hat at it for next year.

Organiser, Cllr. Charlie Farrelly said at the weekend that they would look at tying the drive-in bingo to other events so that one insurance payment would provide umbrella coverage for a collection of smaller, charity fundraisers.

You’d have to wonder also, how long the various beneficiaries of these fundraising events can go on being denied such a vital source of revenue – and who will have the courage to step up and throw that vital life-line down to Rural Ireland?

Throw Me Down Something

Thinking about it, the side-show at Listowel Races is the perfect microcosm. Collectors stand in the River Feale and call on the race-goers passing over the bridge above them to ‘Throw Me Down Something.’

But at least, and for the sake of the tradition that’s in it, many people do respond.