Games people play

Posted on: 5th February, 2014

Category: A West Cork Life

Contributor: Tina Pisco

As I sit writing this on a grey, damp day, another ‘killer storm’ is winging its way across the Atlantic. This one is called Brigid and should reach our shores by the Saint’s feast day. St Bridgid’s day, also known as Imbolc or Candlemass, celebrates the awakening of the land, the first spark of Spring. The daffs are poking out of the ground, but the camelia’s buds are still tiny and tight. They look like they have no intention of waking up for a few weeks. In fact, far from awakening, the land looks more like a grumpy teenager who doesn’t want to get out of bed yet. That’s fine with me. I’m not really ready for the mad dash of spring. The spuds are chitting in the garage and I’ve a few hopeful seeds in trays on the porch, but that’s really all I’m in the mood for. I can feel the land changing, but it’s so slow that it’s easy to ignore. Far from ‘springing’ into action,  I think I’ll just press snooze and happily doze for a while longer. In any case there are more storms on the horizon, and even the chance of some really cold weather. “There’s a big freeze on the way,” is how it was put to me yesterday by Chicken George as we chatted on bank corner. I hear you, Gerry.

This is a time to read all those books I got at Christmas, dream of holidays I might take this year, and have quiet nights in with good company. (Please note: All you readers who think that this is the perfect time to go hill walking, surfing, or any other outdoor pursuits — fair play to ye. Personally, I think you’re nuts.)  I was therefore delighted to see that next week Clonakilty is having its first Games Festival — and it’s pretty much all indoors! What an appropriate festival for the wet and windy month of February.

Playing board and table games is one of those things that differentiates us from our primate cousins. Humans have been playing them for thousands of years. It’s what we do. In fact humans have probably been playing board and table games way before we ever invented boards or tables. The oldest board game is commonly held to be backgammon. The Egyptians played a game called Senet that is a precursor to backgammon and several sets were found in Tutankhamen’s tomb. In fact, backgammon is more accurately the oldest game that we still know how to play. Last summer, archeologists in Turkey found a beautiful carved game in a tomb complete with small animals, pyramids, dice and circular tokens. It is believed to be around 5000 years old. The problem is that they didn’t find the rulebook. No one knows how to play it…Chess seems like a mere stripling next to backgammon, having been first played in India around 1500 years ago and becoming popular in Europe in the 15th century. The Vikings played a similar, if chunkier, game called Tafl where players try to advance and capture each other’s kings.

Games were not always for fun. Snakes and Ladders started life as a 16th century Indian game for spiritual and moral edification. You went up the ladder with good deeds and fell down the snakes for your sins. I looked up the history of Monopoly and was surprised to find that it too originated as a game for our edification. In 1904, a young woman named Elizabeth Magie created ‘The Landlord Game’. She was inspired by ‘Progress and Poverty’, a book by Henry George. Elizabeth designed the game to be a ‘practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences’. Parker Brothers, the game manufacturer turned her down. I guess ‘The Landlord Game’ didn’t sound like a barrel of laughs. Ironically after the Crash of 1929, Parker Brothers developed Monopoly, a cutthroat game of land-grabbing, the goal of which is to become the richest player. Today it is the most popular game in the world. Which got me thinking: Maybe the world is ripe for another edifying game based on an economic crash. We could call it ‘Bailout!’, or ‘Boom to Bust’. Players could include the Irish Government (a harp), the Developer (a shovel), the Troika (a gold dubloon) and the Banker (a shiny ring). Who knows — if I start working on it now, I might have it ready for next year’s Games Festival.

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Bandon Walled Town Festival in looking for new ideas!
Would you like to get involved in the 2018 Festival?If you yourself would like to be involved in big or small way
email bandonwalledtown@gmail.com
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Submarines, American Sailors, and the Underwater War in Irish Waters, 1917-1918
by Dr John Borgonovo in The Parish Centre, Clonakilty
on Thursday Oct 26 2017 at 8.30 pm

In 1917, unrestricted submarine warfare by German U-boats brought the United States into WWI and created a crisis in Britain. To defeat the submarine menace, an American naval fleet was dispatched to County Cork, bringing about 10,000 sailors with it. This talk will explain the circumstances of this extraordinary event, and how Cork residents dealt with their unexpected American guests.

Dr John Borgonovo is a lecturer in the School of History at UCC. His publications include Spies, Informers, and the 'Anti-Sinn Féin' Society: The Intelligence War in Cork City, 1920-1921; The Dynamics of War and Revolution: Cork City, 1916-1918; Exercising a close vigilance over their daughters: Cork women, American sailors, and Catholic vigilantes, 1917-18; Something in the Nature of a Massacre: The Bandon Valley Killings Revisited (with Andy Bielenberg). His latest publication (with co-authors John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy) is the highly acclaimed and magnificient Atlas of the Irish Revolution. In July of this year, he organised a very successful conference on Winning the Western Approaches - Unrestricted Submarine Warfare and the US Navy in Ireland 1917-1918.
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11th October, 2017  ·  

Apple Juicing Day in Clonakilty next Sunday Sept 30th. All welcome to bring their apples from 2-6pm to the Clonakilty Community Garden (on entrance road to Clonakilty Lodge).

Building on the success of its inaugural 2016 event, local voluntary environmental organisation Sustainable Clonakilty invites people to bring along their apples and press them to extract their own juice to take home, using the group's Apple Press.

Volunteers will be at hand to assist in the procedure. Bring along your apples washed; clean containers to freeze your juice (milk/juice bottles or cartons, plastic bottles with caps); clean, sterilised glass bottles to pasteurise with swing caps or suitable for 26 mm diameter metal cap.

A limited number of new 3 litres juice bags that are suitable for freezing and pasteurising, can be purchased for a nominal fee on the day also.

This is a free community event and donations will be welcome to cover costs.

For further information, please contact Xavier at xavierdubuisson@gmail.com or text at 086/0476124.
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26th September, 2017  ·  

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