Bingo calls in Ireland

Gambling and Irish culture have always had a playful connection, from those Irish-themed slots to the famous "luck of the Irish" saying. But when it comes to Irish gambling traditions, bingo truly stands out. While bingo has different variants depending on the country you're in, Irish bingo callers are renowned for their craic. This sets Irish bingo apart from its American and UK counterparts, making it a favorite even in the age of online gaming.

Bingo has a rich history in Ireland, going back almost a century. Before the '60s, it was the top choice for Irish gamblers, even beating out horse racing! But it's not just about betting; it's about generations coming together in vibrant bingo halls, filled with laughter and camaraderie.

What makes Irish bingo unique? It's those funny Irish bingo calls, adding an extra layer of fun to the game. Despite its online presence, traditional bingo halls still draw a dedicated crowd, keeping the Irish bingo spirit alive and thriving.


Classic Irish bingo calls

Here is a complete list of the bingo calls you'll find in Irish bingo halls spread right across the island. While you might be unfamiliar with one or two, there’s a nice blend of traditional terms and Irish terms.

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1 – Kelly's eye:

One winking eye, feeling sly and ready to try your luck!

2 – One little duck:

Quack-tastic duo, just like a feathery rendezvous!

3 – Cup of tea:

Brewed for three, it's time for tea and bingo glee!

4 – Knock at the door:

Four's the score, a knock, and you're asking for more!

5 – Man alive:

High five, feeling alive, ready for the bingo dive!

6 – Tom Mix/Half a dozen:

Mix it up, half a dozen cups, the bingo party kicks off!

7 – Lucky seven:

Feeling divine, it's lucky number seven time!

8 – Garden gate:

Gate number eight, enter a garden of bingo fate!

9 – Doctor's orders:

Number nine, follow doctor's orders, it's bingo time!

10 – [Prime Minister's name]'s den:

Den of ten, where bingo's the PM, again and again!

12 – One dozen:

Baker's dozen minus one, twelve on the run, bingo's begun!

13 – Unlucky for some:

Thirteen may seem unlucky, but in bingo, it's where the fun gets plucky!

14 – Valentine's Day:

Fourteen, love is keen, on Valentine's Day, bingo's the scene!

15 – Young and keen:

Fifteen, young and keen, bingo's the sweetest scene!

16 – Sweet 16/never been kissed:

Sweet sixteen, never been kissed, in bingo, you're not to be missed!

17 – Dancing Queen:

Seventeen, like a dancing queen, bingo's the royal routine!

18 – Coming of age:

Eighteen, the coming of age, bingo's on the bingo stage!

19 – Goodbye teens:

Nineteen, bid goodbye to teens, bingo dreams on the scene!

20 – One score:

Twenty's here, one score clear, bingo cheers, no need to fear!

21 – Royal salute/Key of the door:

Twenty-one, a royal salute, or the key to the bingo door, the fun's absolute!

22 – Two little ducks:

Quack, quack, twenty-two, two little ducks, bingo's calling you!

23 – Thee and me:

Twenty-three, it's thee and me, in the bingo glee!

24 – Two dozen:

Twenty-four, two dozen more, bingo galore, let the numbers soar!

25 – Duck and dive:

Twenty-five, duck and dive, bingo thrives, come alive!

26 – Pick and mix:

Twenty-six, pick and mix, bingo tricks, for a winning fix!

27 – Gateway to heaven:

Twenty-seven, the gateway to bingo heaven, where dreams are leavened!

28 – In a state/Overweight:

Twenty-eight, in a state, bingo's overweight with excitement, don't underestimate!

29 – Rise and shine:

Twenty-nine, rise and shine, bingo's the gold mine of fun design!

30 – Dirty Gertie:

Thirty's dirty, Gertie's flirty, in bingo, it's a party!

31 – Get up and run:

Thirty-one, get up and run, the bingo fun has just begun!

32 – Buckle my shoe:

Thirty-two, buckle my shoe, bingo's the fashionable rendezvous!

33 – Dirty knee/All the threes/Fish, chips and peas:

Thirty-three, dirty knee, all the threes, fish, chips, and peas, bingo's the tease!

34 – Ask for more:

Thirty-four, ask for more, bingo's the encore, hear the numbers roar!

35 – Jump and jive:

Thirty-five, jump and jive, in bingo's rhythm, come alive!

36 – Three dozen:

Thirty-six, three dozen tricks, bingo kicks, feeling the mix!

37 – More than eleven:

Thirty-seven, more than eleven, bingo's the haven for number seven!

38 – Christmas cake:

Thirty-eight, like Christmas cake, bingo's a treat, no mistake!

39 – 39 steps:

Thirty-nine, 39 steps in line, bingo's climb to fun is divine!

40 – Life begins:

Forty's here, life begins, in bingo's world of wins!

41 – Time for fun:

Forty-one, time for fun, bingo's run has just begun!

42 – Winnie the Pooh:

Forty-two, like Winnie the Pooh, bingo's sweet and honeyed too!

43 – Down on your knees:

Forty-three, down on your knees, bingo's the plea, for jackpot keys!

44 – Droopy drawers:

Forty-four, droopy drawers, bingo roars, with applause!

45 – Halfway there:

Forty-five, halfway there, bingo's flair is in the air!

47 – Four and seven:

Forty-seven, four and seven, bingo heaven, a match made in leaven!

48 – Four dozen:

Forty-eight, four dozen on the plate, bingo's fate is looking great!

49 – PC:

Forty-nine, PC in line, bingo's online, feeling fine!

50 – Half a century:

Fifty's nifty, half a century, bingo's entry into the age of plenty!

51 – Tweak of the thumb:

Fifty-one, a tweak of the thumb, bingo's hum, the game's begun!

52 – Danny La Rue:

Fifty-two, like Danny La Rue, bingo's true entertainment debut!

53 – Here comes Herbie/Stuck in a tree:

Fifty-three, here comes Herbie, stuck in a tree, bingo's the key to set him free!

54 – Clean the floor:

Fifty-four, clean the floor, bingo galore, no room for bore!

55 – Snakes alive:

Fifty-five, snakes alive, in bingo's hive, the thrill will survive!

56 – Shotts Bus:

Fifty-six, it's the Shotts Bus, bingo's ride, no need to fuss!

57 – Heinz varieties:

Fifty-seven, like Heinz varieties, bingo's choices are endless rarities!

58 – Make them wait:

Fifty-eight, make them wait, bingo's gate to anticipation's state!

59 – Brighton line:

Fifty-nine, the Brighton line, bingo's shine, feeling fine!

60 – Five dozen:

Sixty's bold, five dozen fold, bingo's gold, a story to be told!

61 – Baker's bun:

Sixty-one, Baker's bun, in bingo's oven, the winning's done!

62 – Turn the screw/Tickety-boo:

Sixty-two, turn the screw, tickety-boo, bingo's groove just for you!

63 – Tickle me 63:

Sixty-three, tickle me, bingo's glee, a jackpot spree!

64 – Red raw:

Sixty-four, red raw, bingo's law, winning without flaw!

65 – Old age pension:

Sixty-five, old age pension, bingo's dimension of grand intention!

66 – Clickety click:

Sixty-six, clickety click, bingo's quick, the numbers stick!

67 – Stairway to heaven:

Sixty-seven, stairway to heaven, bingo's leaven for a lucky eleven!

68 – Saving grace:

Sixty-eight, saving grace, bingo's pace, in the winning race!

69 – Favourite of mine:

Sixty-nine, a favourite of mine, bingo's sign, it's jackpot time!

70 – Three score and ten:

Seventy's plenty, three score and ten, bingo's den, it's a win again!

71 – Bang on the drum:

Seventy-one, bang on the drum, bingo's hum, a winning strum!

72 – Six dozen:

Seventy-two, six dozen true, bingo's crew, luck is due!

73 – Queen bee:

Seventy-three, queen bee decree, bingo's key, bow to the royal glee!

74 – Hit the floor:

Seventy-four, hit the floor, bingo's roar, go on, explore!

75 – Strive and strive:

Seventy-five, strive and strive, in bingo's hive, where wins arrive!

76 – Trombones:

Seventy-six, trombones in the mix, bingo's fix for musical kicks!

77 – Sunset strip:

Seventy-seven, sunset strip, bingo's trip, where numbers flip!

78 – 39 more steps:

Seventy-eight, 39 more steps, bingo's preps for winning depths!

79 – One more time:

Seventy-nine, one more time, bingo's prime, in the number climb!

80 – Eight and blank:

Eighty's grand, eight and blank, bingo's rank, in the winning tank!

81 – Stop and Run:

Eighty-one, stop and run, bingo's fun, the race is won!

82 – Straight on through:

Eighty-two, straight on through, bingo's cue for a winning view!

83 – Time for tea:

Eighty-three, time for tea, bingo's plea for a lucky spree!

84 – Seven dozen:

Eighty-four, seven dozen, bingo's dozen, the game's a buzzin'!

85 – Staying alive:

Eighty-five, staying alive, bingo's dive into the jackpot hive!

86 – Between the sticks:

Eighty-six, between the sticks, bingo's tricks, where luck clicks!

87 – Torquay in Devon:

Eighty-seven, Torquay in Devon, bingo heaven, it's a jackpot haven!

88 – Two fat ladies:

Eighty-eight, two fat ladies straight, bingo's fate, a winning date!

89 – Nearly there:

Eighty-nine, nearly there, bingo's lair, the jackpot's in the air!

90 – Top of the shop:

Ninety's grand, top of the shop, bingo's crop, the ultimate jackpot!

Although some Bingo callers will put their own spin on a lot of these names, this is the framework that most will use.

How bingo calls work

Irish bingo, similar to the UK, has 90 balls. The American version is slightly smaller, with only 75 numbers to select from. As long as the rhyming slang rolls off the tongue and gets people to crack a smile, it'll usually be above board. Some bingo callers will vary their calls in a bid to keep it as entertaining and fresh as possible. Legs eleven is based on the shape of how the number looks, so there are variations to this approach too, and it involves basically anything that makes you laugh.

Bingo callers also play a vital role in the development of the game. Not only were they a significant driving force behind the game's growth, but they also helped sell the idea that bingo could be entertaining and a social entertainment event as well as a gambling venture.

Although different bingo callers will have different styles, with many having other jobs in the performance industry, often as stand-up comedians, singers and dancers, it usually requires a high-energy host who can keep the game as engaging as possible and keep people intrigued.

Famous bingo callers

Some huge A-list names started as bingo callers, including household names in the UK and Ireland such as Gary Barlow and Hollywood superstar actors like Matthew McConaughey and Russell Crowe. One of the most notable Irish bingo callers was Kian Egan, from one of Ireland's biggest and most recognizable bands. Not many people know that before Kian made his millions in Westlife, he would spend his weekends entertaining people in bingo halls all over Ireland, and we imagine it helped him a lot with his stage fright, projection and stage presence.

Funny bingo calls

Humour is subjective, so the bingo calls that one person finds hilarious might not even crack a smile for somebody else. Historically, two fat ladies has become one of the most well-known bingo calls, even for people who don't have a strong knowledge of the game. For those players who don't play that often, knock at the door, leg's eleven and top of the shop have created such hysteria for the iconic game that many people can specify what numbers they are without ever stepping foot into a bingo hall.

Christmas bingo calls

Given how bingo can bring people together, it's no surprise that the most wonderful time of the year often sees families getting out their Christmas-themed bingo cards. Christmas calls tend to fall into a much smaller scope, usually with games going up to 30 numbers to accommodate for the smaller family units who play the game over the festive period. The first twelve numbers will encompass each line from the 12 days of Christmas, with some minor changes. The higher numbers might have slight changes but will mostly remain the same:

1 – Partridge in a pear tree

2 – Turtledoves

3 – Star on the tree

4 – Four calling birds

5 – Gold rings

6 – Geese a-laying

7 – Seven swans a swimming

8 – Maids a milking

9 – A wonderful Christmas time

10 – French hens

11 – Angels in heaven

12 – My true love gave to me

13 – Unlucky lump of coal for some

14 – Apple pie and ice cream

15 – Fine Christmas cuisine

16 – Santa's been

17 – Slay queen

18 – Xmas reruns on screen

19 – Red and green

20 – Christmas leftovers are plenty

21 – Run Rudolph run

22 – All I want for Christmas is you

23 – Putting up the tree

24 – The night before

25 – Christmas

26 – Boxing day

27 – Hot toddy and lemon

28 – Pile up your plate

29 – Ready to dine

30 – Roast the birdy

Bingo calls FAQs

What is the origin of the term "bingo"?

While this might not be confirmed by historians, the myth surrounding the origins of bingo stems from the early days when the game was just starting. Some historians believe the game is nearly 500 years old, with some identifying the starting point as Italy.

However, the modern game emerged from New York in the 1930s. Edwin Lowe is the pioneer of the modern game, and legend has it that during the experimental phase of bringing this game to a larger audience in the US, somebody shouted "bingo" instead of "beano" — which was the original working title — and thus the game was born.

Are Irish bingo calls the same as those in other countries?

Some of the basic, universal ones are. However, the more specific calls that tie into Irish stories, folklore and slang are specific to the Emerald Isle. Other countries have their own regionalized versions of the calls, and it's part of the big reason it has such a vast global audience. Unlike other gambling games where the rules are rigid and the terms and calls remain the same, Bingo is unique and tailored to the local audience.

Can you play bingo online in Ireland?

Of course, the game's phenomenal success throughout the mid-20th century has now moved bingo online. While it might not have the same appeal as back in the golden years of packed Bingo halls, it's reaching a new, energised audience where people can play from home on their smartphones or tablets.

As with any game where you wager your own money, you must ensure that you gamble with money you can afford to lose and don’t spend too much time playing bingo games. Although they can be fun and provide a platform to be more social, you need to be responsible when gambling so your venture doesn’t become a problem. While online gambling has brought many more gamers on board, you must exercise caution to enjoy it as much as possible.

How to call bingo numbers?

There's no set art to calling bingo numbers. Given that some of the world's most notable actors and entertainers started their hugely successful careers as bingo callers, it's not a one-size-fits-all policy. Some bingo callers are full of life, some are dry and witty and some will be high-energy, while others might focus on engaging with the crowd more.

How do you become a bingo caller in Ireland?

Much like any country, go down to your local bingo hall, speak to the manager, give them a call or send them an email and say you're interested in a career as a bingo caller. It won't be the most well-paid job, especially early on, but you'll gain vital experience to see whether it is something you wish to pursue.

What are some of the biggest bingo wins in history?

While bingo might not see some of the considerable wins that the lottery or high-stakes poker games do, there's still a select group of people who have become multimillionaires thanks to the classic game. The biggest-ever win was a 60-year-old man from the UK, who scooped up £5.9m just over a decade ago, but there have been multiple bingo winners who have also picked up six figures, some with cards worth less than a dollar, euro or pound. One lucky lady in the UK won over £1m after betting 15p!