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The Games We Played


Published 11 May 2020

Street games and children playing together was an important, fun, part of tenement life in Dublin and it’s something that former residents of 14 Henrietta Street have often told us about.

Some Dublin streets and neighbourhoods continued to be full of children playing games that were passed down through generations, but now for the first time, some streets are finding themselves the new playgrounds for children who can’t travel too far from home or who have had their structured activities put on pause for a while. So we thought it would be a good time to look at those traditions, and who knows, the children in your life might even discover a new game to play.

Below, Tracey Bardon, the Front of House Manager at 14 Henrietta Street, who grew up a stone’s throw from Henrietta Street, writes about the childhood games she used to play and the joy they brought.

Have a read and see if you know any of the games Tracey and her pals played.


The Games We Played

When I was a child, playing out on the road or street was the way we spent most of our time that wasn't taken up by school work. There were always lots of boys and girls of mixed ages, sometimes we all played games together like Queenie I O Who Has the Ball or a chasing game like Relivio, Stuck in the Mud or Red Rover.

Other times the boys would play football using their jumpers for goalposts and the girls would play Mammies and Daddies and you would try and sneak out a pair of your mammy’s high heels so you could clip clop around telling all the “children” what to do mostly saying “Hurry up and eat your dinner” or “Wait till your Da gets home “.

I loved playing skipping when we played in a big gang because I was good at it. I loved the songs that went with the games like “The Ripo the Rapo the sailor on the seas, me oh my, he's after me”. I was good at the skipping games. I thought I was great because I could jump in backwards, but I didn't like turning the rope, that was too boring.

My Ma taught me how to play Ball using two tennis balls (they had to be bouncy) swapping them from hand to hand and throwing them against the wall while singing songs like Billy Bowler Biscuit Baker. If you were playing this against the side of someone's house they would often come out and chase you off saying the noise would go through them. They were happy times.

Whether you played Piggy using your Da’s old shoe polish tin, tied a rope around a lamppost to be used as a swing, played clapping games or simply played Jack, Stones or Marbles you could always find some game to pass the time - just remember the generation before you were playing the same games. They might have different names, some of the songs might have slightly different words but they all have familiarity and thinking about it now will make you smile and wish for the day you were swinging around a lamppost using a piece of cardboard to cushion your bum or clip clopping around with your baby doll under your arm.

What games did you play?

So I would love for you to share your memories with us - what games did you play? When did you play them? Did you share toys with your brothers and sisters or did you have no toys and have to make do with a hoop and a stick or an old polish tin? Did you play in tenement hallways on rainy days and make up your own games?

I would love to hear your stories so take a look at our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and share your memories with us there. We’re going to be talking a little bit more about some of the games we knew and how we played them.

You can email us too at: memories@14henriettastreet.ie or even give us a call on +353 1 524 0383. (We mightn’t be able to answer right away but you can leave us a message and we’ll get back to you.)

Written by Tracey Bardon, Front of House Manager, 14 Henrietta Street