Monopoly’s bizarre Dublin edition has more mysteries than the rosary

Conor Pope: DCU but not UCD. Arnotts over Brown Thomas. Why the odd choices?

Monopoly, the Dublin edition

Monopoly, the Dublin edition

 

I was wandering aimlessly through the Arnotts toy department last weekend idly wondering what presents Santa’s elves might be building this year when I collided with a huge tower of Monopoly, the like of which I’d never seen before.

It was the Dublin edition of the enduring board game. I picked up a box I’d knocked to the floor and headed for a till. When I got home I decreed that there would be no television, Minecraft or ill-advised gymnastics in the Pope living room that evening because we’d be playing Monopoly instead.

There was no one more delighted by the news than me. I grew up in a house with three board games – Monopoly, Scrabble and chess – and some of the happiest memories of my childhood saw me mercilessly bankrupting my family like a 1970s vulture fund in highly flammable, flared nylon trousers. I was keen to rekindle those memories by bankrupting my children and better half, too, albeit while wearing slightly less flammable and somewhat less flared trousers.

As I ripped the cellophane off the box, I wondered how far up the property ladder Ranelagh and Rathmines had climbed since the 1970s, when they were populated exclusively by ne’er-do-wells and miscreants, and if Stoneybatter had unseated Crumlin for a spot on the poor side of the top table.

But as the board unfolded, I was dismayed to see that Monopoly has become a place where streets have no game and they’ve been replaced by a random assortment of landmarks, shops, salad bars and the odd – very odd – business.

Getting the boot

I was last to choose a token and got the boot, after which we set off around the board at a fair clip. Many squares are up-to-date – ridiculously so betimes – but there are anachronisms too. The Luas, for instance, has made the grade but Irish Water has been displaced by the old-school Water Works, which will surely gladden the heart of Paul Murphy – if hardcore socialists are allowed play the game.

While my infuriatingly and inexplicably skilled children bought property all around me with the fecklessness of Celtic Tiger cubs who bought into Bertie’s line about property investments being as safe as houses, I struggled from the word Go.

On my first circuit, I visited jail, landed on free parking and the Super Tax square, while a rubbish Chance card sent me to the Temple Bar Food Market, where I’d to spend $15 on some overpriced pesto-ridden potato mush.

I was given a second Chance and won $20 for a shopping spree in Weir’s. “That won’t get me far,” I thought as I recalled the last time I’d been in the jewel of Grafton Street when they demanded nearly 30 quid to remove two links from a watch bought there just days earlier.

I landed on the Today FM Community Chest square, the first time I’d been anywhere near the place since Fintan O’Toole had the temerity to express a critical opinion of Newstalk in this newspaper more than a year ago, which led to all the Denis O’Brien-owned stations issuing an eternal ban on all Irish Times journalists. I got a get-out-of-jail-free card, which I hope never to need.

Eventually I bought some property – Brown Thomas and Dundrum Town Centre – but by then I was in the Monopoly equivalent of Nama and had abandoned my dreams of triumphal landlordism. As the dice rolled and I fell further behind with no hope of buying even one house, I started dwelling instead on Mr Monopoly’s location choices.

A strange education

First up was Maxwell’s Photography, which has a Chance square between the Ha’Penny Bridge and Molly Malone’s moving statue. What’s Maxwell’s Photography and why is it on a Monopoly board, you may well ask. I know I did. Lord only knows why it’s there, but then this is a game with more mysteries than the rosary’s many decades.

The board has three educational institutions – DCU, St Columba’s College and Nord Anglia, a school that has been open for 15 minutes. But there’s no room for Trinity College, the oldest university in the country; or UCD, the biggest. In the sporting quarter there’s Croke Park, which is unsurprising, and the Aviva, which is grand, but pity the woman who lands on the Royal Dublin Golf Club. They’ll not be welcome there.

There are pricing anomalies too. Arnotts is a great department store that has repeatedly reinvent itself for 175 years, but is it really more valuable than Brown Thomas? And is Freshly Chopped worth more than both?

Today FM is joined by (boo, hiss) Newstalk, but there’s no room for RTÉ, and the Botanic Gardens share a colour with the Guinness Storehouse, while Temple Bar and the National Gallery are part of the same set despite the fact that the two places could scarcely be farther apart.

I called and then emailed Mr Monopoly to find out what was going on and why he had made some very unusual choices. His spokesman was unclear as to the reasons but promised to get back to me. As I write, I’m still waiting.

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