John McCullagh August 27, 2005
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My story on ‘The Hobbies’ brought back to Martin Auden memories of his grandfather, Mr Hugh Mallon who frequented the ‘Housey Housey’ each night. As Martin added, ‘Hugh was there more for the social aspect than for the prize money’. This is my own story of Hugh Mallon who I remember from those early Bingo days.


Hugh Mallon, Omeath shore, early 60’s: note Pioneer Pin in lapel!

After the popularity of the ‘Pongo’ or ‘Housey Housey’ at the ‘Hobbies’, the popularity of Bingo escalated  rapidly in and around various venues in Newry.

Mr Mallon was very well known and liked by most of the regular participants. He was a distinguished, quiet gentleman who enjoyed the company of all those who shared a table with him at the Bingo sessions.

In my early teens I was a junior member of the Newry Shamrocks Football Club and I would assist with their Bingo evenings – the venue being the Shamrocks Hall in River Street. The ‘Jackpot’ prize in those days was simply known as ‘The Pool’ and how it worked was as follows;

Before each game the Caller would announce the Pool number for that particular game, i.e. ‘the last number in the middle line of your card’ but of course these selected boxes obviously varied with each game. The object of course was to fill your card before anyone else but if you were lucky enough to call ‘Check’ on your Pool number, you won the ‘Jackpot’.

On one particular night, Hugh Mallon was filling his card very quickly and in no time at all he was waiting on one number, his Pool number. Everyone else at his table was that excited they seemed to forget about their own cards to concentrate more on his, for fear of him missing the called number.

Then after what seemed like ages, the long awaited number was finally called. The place erupted but it wasn’t Hugh who called ‘Check’ – it was the entire group at his table who in unison shouted, ‘Check! Check! The Pool! The Pool’.

Never have I seen a more popular winner as I did on that night in the Shamrock’s Hall.

 The ‘Jackpot’ prize handed over with great pleasure to Hugh Mallon on that night was the grand total of …….

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