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31st Dec 2018

Surrealing In The Years: The 12 weirdest things that happened in Ireland in 2018

Carl Kinsella

2018 in Review

What a year it has been.

If RTÉ’s iconic year-in-review show Reeling In The Years has taught us anything, it’s that Irish people love to relive the past.

And we thought… why wait?

We’ve reached the end of yet another year and what a year it has been. From snowstorms to heatwaves, the Pope in Ballymun, from coinage to Conor McGregor destroying a bus. In truth, not much of it has made any sense. But these are the 12 weirdest moments of 2018.

A JCB digger taking out a Lidl

Remember the simple times when we thought that a man slipping on the ice was the most dramatic thing that could happen during inclement weather?

Well, 2018 proved us wrong with the help of the worst snow some parts of the country had seen in decades, a Lidl, and a JCB digger.

Storm Emma saw Ireland blanketed in snow for days. The country shut down, there were bread shortages all around, and several people in Fortunestown attacked a Lidl with a hijacked digger. And they didn’t just attack it. They razed it to the ground. Most countries do snowball fights and build snowmen. Yeah, nice try, Lidl. You’re not getting off that easy.

Thankfully, the Lidl has since been rebuilt.

BONUS: Ryan Tubridy continuing with the Late Late Show even though only a dozen people turned up.

Krispy Kreme-gate

The people of Ireland had their 24-hour doughnut privileges revoked in September of this year. And with good cause.

Krispy Kreme opened a megastore in Blanchardstown, and what followed was a case study in the Irish psyche.

Three-hour queues at a doughnut drivethrough. So much horn-honking that the people of West Dublin hadn’t slept in days. In the end, our lust for doughnuts scared Krispy Kreme — a massive international organisation with over 1,000 locations globally — so much that it had to change its entire business model.

In the end, everyone learned a valuable lesson: give us what we want.

The Pope in the Skoda

The Papal visit didn’t live up to its billing — nor the dozens of millions of euro spent on preparations for it by the Irish government. In the end, far fewer people than expected turned up to see Francis say mass in the Phoenix Park, either opting to watch the round-the-clock RTÉ coverage or ignore it entirely.

The most noteworthy moment of the weekend came when the Pope was snapped travelling in a Skoda through Ballymun — one of Dublin’s most iconic suburban areas, famous for its high-rise flats.

The No campaign’s bull

We mean literally, in case there’s any confusion over our turn of phrase.

Ireland spent the first half of the year embroiled in a tense debate over the legalisation of abortion. It was a debate that had many lowlights, with a gigantic NO sign appearing on Irish landmark Ben Bulben chief among them.

But things became even more absurd days later when a similar sign was erected in the Dublin mountains with one key difference. This one was guarded by a bull.

“The sign is placed in a privately owned field and is guarded by a large bull that is currently grazing in the field,” activists said. “Placing the bull in the field was seen as a necessity following the removal of the Benbulben sign at the weekend by Pro Abortion activists.”

Whether or not the bull remains active in political life is unknown.

The Presidential election

In the end, it was a straightforward victory for the incumbent Michael D. Higgins. The most emphatic presidential win in history, in fact. And yet, we were forced to endure over a month from candidates who turned the whole process into a circus.

Kevin Sharkey, a former Father Ted actor, persisted with his campaign for a while before dropping out to release a single. Peter Casey surged from anonymity into second place with a controversial platform that revolved around attacking Travellers. One debate had to go off-air after a heckler tried to get on stage. Sean Gallagher ended up on crutches after “aggravating an old judo injury”.

And all for a totally powerless position.


This isn’t weird on the same level as tearing apart a Lidl because it’s snowing or eating so many doughnuts that the people who make the doughnuts get scared, but it is weird. This summer was Ireland’s hottest summer since 1976, and gave us all days and nights the likes of which most Irish people have never experienced. We also ran out of water and had to ban hosepipes for three months.

Not only that, but 300 people got SNITCHED on for breaching the ban.

I am hesitant to say that this summer will live long in the memory, because the realities of climate change suggest that this could actually be what Irish summers are like from now on. Leaving aside the whole drought element of it all: bring it on.

The year of the McGregor family

You could actually split the antics of the McGregor family into several different entries on this list, so we’re gonna have three subcategories here:

Conor McGregor:

Smashed up a bus in Brooklyn and ended up in court for it. Was the subject of rumour and conjecture all year long. His fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov ended with his opponent jumping into the crowd and trying to fight his entourage.

Tony McGregor:

Changed the way we all think about the DART and, indeed, currency, when he made his thoughts known on a ticket machine giving him back €18 in change. Rewrote the Irish lexicon to include “Crisp €20 note,” “Slim fit, hand-fitted Hugo Boss suit” and “coinage.”

Aoife McGregor:


Ireland’s 2002 World Cup jersey becoming high-fashion

We always knew that Ireland’s jersey for the 2002 World Cup was a work of art, but we never expected the fashionistas of the world to appreciate it. 16 years after the fact, we were proved wrong by Tokyo Fashion magazine. Finally, some recognition.

The late Fernando Nuno La-Fuente

A late entry on the list. Literally.

In late November, there was an outpouring of grief for a young Spanish man named Fernando Nuno La-Fuente. The Spaniard had been playing football for local team Ballybrack FC, but his career was cut short when he was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident.

Only he hadn’t. He’d just moved to Galway. Unbeknownst to him or the club at large, one coach had claimed that La-Fuente had died in order to get a game called off. The ploy wasn’t discovered until every club in the Leinster Senior League had held a moment of silence for the man, and lengthy tributes to him had been published in national newspapers.

Rest in peace, Fernando. Rest in peace, 2018.

LISTEN: You Must Be Jokin’ with Aideen McQueen – Faith healers, Coolock craic and Gigging as Gaeilge