Mosney Computer Centre Advertisement (1984)

Mosney Holiday Centre - New Computer Centre

Mosney Computer Centre Advertisement (1984)

While a computer centre might not be a ‘wow factor’ to prospective holidaymakers today, in 1984 one was used to attract new guests to Mosney Holiday Centre in County Meath. Mosney had just undergone a change of ownership at this time, having formerly been a Butlin’s holiday resort. A revitilisation project for the decades-old camp followed, and one aspect of this can be seen in an advertisement held in the museum archives.

Originally opened in 1948 as Butlin’s Mosney Holiday Village, Mosney was the first camp owned by the company to be located outside of Britain. Ideally placed on the Belfast-Dublin rail line, the camp offered private accommodation, catered meals, and entertainment for children and adults alike. As with other resorts, Mosney catered to a growing demand for affordable holidays. This was driven by the enshrining of paid holidays for workers in British and Irish law, in 1938 and 1939 respectively.

Following the Second World War, this style of holiday camp thrived across the United Kingdom and Ireland. Unlike the seaside bed-and-breakfasts that once dominated holidays, camps offered all-day access to private chalets as well as a wider range of activities. Among the amenities at the Mosney camp were a bar, arcade, amusement park, skating rink, riding stable, and two heated pools. With childcare provided, camps like Mosney were especially attractive to families with young children.

Margaret Aimar displays the Mosney Holiday Centre advertisement

However, by the 1970s holiday camps were beginning to lose their appeal. Package trips abroad became more affordable, and many Irish families turned towards more exotic locations. At this point, Mosney was noted as having outdated facilities. It was in this context that Butlin’s sold its Mosney location in 1982.

As part of the renovations undertaken by its new owner, arrangements were made for the addition of a ‘New Modern Computer Centre with a bank of 30 computers’. As seen on the advertisement sheet, the grand opening for this new facility was scheduled for Saturday, May 26, 1984. In case the computers were not enough to win over potential customers, the sheet also highlights a special rail fare, a model farm, and a variety of nightly entertainment including a ‘Zany Shakers Nightclub’.

While the advertisement provides little information about the centre, further research suggests that it contained Atari 800XL computers. Released in 1983, this model was just one of many new home computers on the market. Home computers were very much still a novelty at this point. Despite their design being tailored toward user-friendliness, the need for computer literacy was stressed in newspapers and other media from the period. The possibility that some visitors might have never used a computer before is acknowledged in the advertisement, which mentions ‘supervised Instruction’ within the centre.

While early home computers were viewed as tools for education and business as well as entertainment, is undoubtedly the latter that drew people to Mosney’s computer centre. Atari computers were particularly associated with video gaming, as the company had been manufacturing arcade machines since the 1970s. In fact, thousands of these were produced a few counties over at factories in Ardfinnan and Limerick. The advent of home computers opened up new avenues for video gaming. Models like the 800XL allowed for new kinds of games to be played alongside the arcade classics, and attachable joysticks provided the same familiar feel as arcade machines.

Forty years later, it might be difficult to imagine the sense of excitement that the brand-new Mosney computer centre must have evoked. This is especially the case for ‘digital natives’ who have grown up surrounded by portable smart technology. Although the Mosney Holiday Centre is now closed—and its computer centre gone with it—we can now enjoy our video games while lounging at the beach, on some far-flung holiday abroad!

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