GALLERY:

PHOTOS: Laois housing estate playing garden bingo during #Covid-19

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

A Laois housing estate with a strong community spirit has found a way to connect safely and have fun during the #Covid-19 pandemic restrictions.

Residents in St Brigid's Place in Portlaoise have taken to their front gardens for outdoor Bingo.

Last Bank Holiday Monday May 4 about 100 people took part, and there was real money to be won.

Julie O'Shea is the main organiser for what was the second weekly bingo in the estate.

"We wanted to show people that there is light at the end of the tunnel and we are all in it together, and we can get through this by keeping together apart, and showing some community spirit," she said.

Her own mother walked from O'Moore Place to sit in the Julie's garden at the correct distance to play.

"She really enjoyed it, she is still talking about it, she won a full house and a raffle prize," Julie said.

Her son Gary baked no less than 90 cookies for the estate's children.

"They didn't last long, we only have about 20 kids in the estate. The plan was to hand them out as they bought a bingo card, they are part of the community too and they are finding this hard to deal with too," she said.

Michael Larkin is also one of the organisers .

"Everyone brought out their chairs to their front gardens, and played from their gardens so social distancing was maintained. Brochan O'Reilly sourced a microphone, bingo balls and a speaker and he was the MC, using all the bingo lingo, and Joe Swayne got the bingo books," explained Michael.

"We sold the books for €5, or half a book for €2.50 for kids. Then all the money went back out in prizes, €20 if you got a line and €60 if you got a full house, with a raffle in between," he said.

"We have a lot of elderly people living in the estate and they were missing their bingo, it is the highlight of their week, something they look forward to. They loved this. Families could sit together, it really gave everyone a lift," he said.

"Even after it was over people stayed out in the gardens, having the chat over the wall in the sunshine. It really changed the mood of everyone, it was brilliant," he said.

The estate which is one of the oldest former council estates in Laois, has a strong community spirit which is helping them through the Covid-19 pandemic.

"We have a residents committee making calls on our older people, checking if they need anything or need shopping," said Michael.

Everyone in St Brigid's is asking for another garden bingo next week.

"It's something that other estates could do themselves, it was a great success," said Michael.

"Thanks to everyone for abiding by the rules. I couldn't last until August without my weekly bingo, and it has given us all a lift, everyone is happy all around," added Julie.