Bingo addicts from all and every corner of this and neighbouring counties converged on Castleisland on Sunday afternoon to indulge in their passion for the first time since everything closed down in mid spring.
A count of cars alone came to 312 and each of those cars had parties of two, three or four players each.
Creamery Lane or Convent Street – if you like – was jammed from just after 12:30pm as the early birds began flocking in for the 2:30pm start on the spacious yard of the Castleisland Co-Op Mart.
Yellow Vested Volunteers
A small army of yellow vested volunteers some armed with red flags and many with face-masks did everything they could to make this a memorable, first day out for their good humoured patrons.
On the ‘gig-rig’ Castleisland races Committee Chairman, Cllr. Charlie Farrelly and Castleisland’s own bingo specialist, Ned Burke had everything in good shape as the magic moment counted-down.
Red Hair and Red Flag Flying
A minor incident of nervous horn-blowing in the eastern corner of the yard became an orchestrated outburst and it echoed and spread throughout the yard as Cllr. Farrelly called everyone to attention with a reminder of all the health and safety measures dotted around the area.
Kay Reidy was the first of the volunteers to raise a flag as she raced down through the west wing of the yard towards the river red hair and red flag flying in response to a ‘Check’ in her area.
Blown Out of It by Response
“We were just blown out of it by the response to today’s session. There were people here from all quarters and people who had never been to a bingo session anywhere but came here just for the day out,” said organising committee chairman, Cllr. Charlie Farrelly.
“I think it’s that people were all cooped up for so long over the last few months that they were delighted to have the opportunity to get out and do something for a change, We’re delighted at the response we got today,” said Cllr. Farrelly who wasn’t without political support either as Michael Healy Rae, TD and his son Cllr. Jackie and Sheila H.R. Costello were among the playing public.
There was also a copy of Deputy Michael’s book A Listening Ear on the gig-rig as a spot-prize for the afternoon’s proceedings
Going Again on July 26th
“We were up against it today as we had a big outlay on health and safety gear between toilets and sanitising stations but the unbelievable support we got brought us well over the line,” said a relieved Cllr. Farrelly.
“We were so pleased at the turnout today that we put up an extra game and another €500 as a thank you to the people who had traveled long distances to support us.
Asked if they’d consider doing it all again, Cllr. Farrelly responded thus:
“Now that we have all the gear necessary for a successful day’s bingo, we’re going to do it all over again on Sunday, July 26th at 2:30pm on the same yard.
Pot of €3,500 on July 26th
“We’re going to add another €500 to the pot to bring it to €3,500 and we’re in a position to reduce the cost of the bingo books on the day also.
“The €25 books will be reduced to €20 and the €20 books to €15.
“Whatever profit we made today will go to Glebe Lodge Residential Home and the profits from the July 26th session will go to the charities we nominated to receive the ‘gate’ from the races which had to be cancelled last month,” said a clearly pleased Cllr. Farrelly.
The Nominated Races Beneficiaries
The proposed beneficiaries of this year’s race meeting – which was fixed for June 7th – remain as nominated: The Kerry Stars; Castleisland Boys National School; Castleisland First Responders; Kilmurry Pre-School Group and Knocknagoshel Over 55 Club Committee.
It was also decided at that pre-Covid-19 meeting that the proceeds from the events would be divided equally among all five of the above groups.