BOD, Billo, Garth Brooks and ice-bucket challenges: The A-Z of Ireland in 2014
So long 2014; it's been emotional.
A is for Andy Lee
The Limerick native captured the WBO world middleweight boxing title with victory over Matt Korobov in Las Vegas earlier this month and it really couldn’t have happened to a nicer chap.
Here’s hoping even bigger things await in 2015.
B is for Billo
An institution on Irish television for decades, Billo uttered the famous line “We’ll leave it there so” for the last time following the conclusion of RTE’s World Cup coverage in the summer.
We can’t have been the only ones who shed a tear at RTE’s tremendous tribute. Those damn onions.
C is for Commander Chris Hadfield
He's probably the most famous astronaut of our times and his love for Ireland was there for everyone to see in 2014. He has become an ambassador for tourism in in this country and wasted no time in showing the world its beauty early in the New Year. .
A sunset like no other, unbeaten January beauty on Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way. Like standing in a painting. pic.twitter.com/2YIqZ15Zj4
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) January 13, 2014
Hell, he even tried his hand at some hurling too.
D is for Damien Dempsey being a hero
We already had huge time for Damo, but he went up even further in our estimations when helping to rescue a man struggling in the River Slaney during Strawberryfest in the summer. Damo was keen to play down his role in the rescue afterwards and delivered a very important message about water safety at a time when the warm weather was prompting people to go for an outdoor dip throughout the country.
E is for Eurovision
Everyone moans about it and everyone watches it. The annual song-fest has a huge audience year on year and this year it was won by Austrian drag queen Conchita.
Conchita's victory was not welcomed in some quarters and the Russian Orthodox Church said it was something, something about moral decline in Western values or something. Best thing about it was this brilliant tweet by the Independent in response to their indifference.
F is for FIFA World Cup in Brazil
We still get dewy eyed with nostalgia when we think back to the halcyon days of the summer and the festival of football out in Brazil that was the World Cup.
A hugely entertaining month of drama, excitement and some bloody brilliant goals like this one here from Tim Cahill for Australia against Holland in the group stage. This is sensational:
G is for Garth Brooks
For us, if any one thing could sum up what a mess the Garth Brooks Croke Park fiasco had become during the summer, it was when the Mexican ambassador to Ireland offered his help to resolve the matter.
In the end, despite intervention from the Taoiseach himself, an agreement couldn’t be reached, the Croker gigs never went ahead and the thunder rolled above the heads of Garth fans in rural Ireland, some 400,000 of whom were pretty pissed off about the whole thing.
Joe Duffy’s phone lines have rarely been as busy and hawkers of Garth merchandise had to come up with alternative ways of putting their kids through college.
H is for Hozier
The man from Bray was a relative unknown this time last year, but 2014 saw his ascent into global superstardom. Spotify crowned him the biggest breakthrough artist for the year and strings of appearances on huge prime-time American chat-shows has seen his star grow bigger and brighter than ever.
This performance on the Late Show with David Letterman was spell-binding...
I is for the ice-bucket challenge
It remains the biggest surprise of 2014 that Facebook didn’t collapse under the sheer weight of Irish ice-bucket challenges that appeared on the site over a couple of months during the summer.
Being serious, however, the initiative did raise an awful lot of money for a very worthy cause (IMNDA) and it did provide a few moments of hilarity like this one…
J is for John O’Shea
The man, the legend. The Waterford native has been quietly and efficiently going about his business for Ireland for years and it was great to see him getting his time in the limelight after THAT last-gasp equaliser against Germany in Gelsenkirchen. And on the occasion of his 100th cap to boot.
So good that one Irish fan even got a tattoo of the big man to honour the best moment in Irish football circles for some time.
K is for Katie
We’re assuming that Katie Taylor has achieved such a level of national adoration at this stage that everyone will know who we’re talking about by mentioning her first name alone.
Katie gave us all further reason to cherish her this year when winning her fifth consecutive – that’s right FIFTH CONSECUTIVE – AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in South Korea in November and she shows no signs of stopping yet.
Roll on Rio in 2016.
L is for Love/Hate
The most talked about TV show in Irish television history and probably the best one too. Series five has been viewed by many as the best one of the lot.
Nidge's paranoia reaching crescendo levels, the battle for power with his cohort Fran, the emergence of Patrick as a central character, the fleeting but powerful performance of Johnny Ward as Paulie and the superb Charlie Murphy playing Siobhan; this series had it all.
We were left breathless in that final episode and we're all eagerly to see what happens next.
M is for Macauley Culket
Yes, that's Macauley Culket and not Macauley Culkin and anyone who has seen arguably our favourite comedy sketch of 2014 will know what we're on about.
It was conceived by Irish comedy group Ham and Carrots - made up of Liam Hallihan, Trevor Kiely and Johnny Willis - and imagines an Irish lads trying to watch Game of Thrones while being distracted by his auld lad in the background.
And it's brilliant.
N is for Notorious
As in Conor ‘The Notorious’ McGregor, whose rise to prominence in 2014 is best described as meteoric. McGregor recovered from serious injury to destroy Diego Brandão in Dublin in July and he made short work of Dustin Poirier in Las Vegas in September.
Brimming with talent and oozing charisma, McGregor is now one of the biggest stars in the UFC. Oh and he was the most Googled Irish sporting personality in 2014 as well.
The best thing, is with a clash against Dennis Siver in January and a potential Croke Park date next summer, 2015 is set to be even better.
O is for O’Driscoll
Teammates and even O’Driscoll himself joked that it was one of the most drawn-out retirements in the history of Irish sport, but if anyone deserved an extended lap of honour, it is the greatest Irish rugby player of all time.
O’Driscoll’s final season wasn’t his finest one, but he still delivered plenty of trademark moments of class and it was fitting that he won some silverware on the national stage in his last game in the green jersey.
As we said, the tributes flowed to an almost embarrassing degree at times and his one-time provincial and international colleague Fergus McFadden probably delivered the best one of all…
That standing ovation I got coming off the bench yesterday was amazing#Thanks
— Fergus McFadden (@fergmcfadden) March 9, 2014
P is for Panti
Panti stuck a chord on a global scale this year, especially after that spine-tingling Noble Call speech - based on dealing with homophobia in Ireland - from the stage of the Abbey Theatre, which went viral around the world.
It came after Panti had been on the Brendan O'Connor Show and accused certain people in the Irish media of being homophobic, an action which RTE felt the need to compensate those that were named.
Panti was contacted by global stars such as Madonna and Elton John and the Pet Shop Boys even went and made a song about it using pieces of the speech.
Q is for Michael D queueing for an ATM on Baggot Street
It's hard to explain quite how carried away Irish people became with a simple image of President Michael D Higgins queueing for an ATM on Baggot Street, but it went super viral for a couple of days earlier this year.
Because it proved so popular, we decided to have a little bit of fun with it. Michael D queueing for Coppers? Why the hell not!
R is for Roy
2014 was a typically quiet and peaceful year in the life of Roy Keane, right? Right?
Wrong. Keano might claim he’s not fond of life in the public eye but the Irish public can’t get enough of Roy the boy and they certainly got plenty of him in the last 12 months.
Getting the Aston Villa job, quitting the Aston Villa job, death stares, the beard, the row with a fan at the team hotel, incurring the wrath of too many people to mention, the release of his second autobiography and about a million other things we can’t think of right now; yeah it’s been a fairly serene year in the life of Roy Keane alright.
S is for Schmidt
The role of a manager in professional sport can sometimes be overstated but nobody is any doubt as to the massive influence that Joe Schmidt has had on the Irish rugby team in his brief time in charge.
Ireland played ten games in 2014, won nine of them, lost the other one by a mere three points and finished the year with the Six Nations title, victories over two of the southern hemisphere's big three and third place in the world rankings.
It's not just the results, however, it's clear that, a year out from the World Cup, belief is coursing through the veins of the Irish players at the moment and a lot of that is because of a humble New Zealander who demands perfection and still manages to come across as a sound man to boot.
T is for the Toy Show
The Late Late Toy Show is something of a guilty pleasure every year, but this year's edition was the best that Ryan Tubridy and company have come up with in years.
Kids being awesome and the audience being showered with free gifts is par for the course at this stage, but this year's Toy Show seemed that bit giddier than usual and Ed Sheeran put the icing on the cake by being an absolute legend.
U is for U2
U2 came roaring back this year with the surprise release of their new album, Songs of Innocence, which was launched in conjunction with Apple and their release of the new iPhone 6. Millions of people worldwide woke up to find the new U2 album on their devices.
Lots of people had a good moan, but U2 fans everywhere were thrilled and it's great to see that the new album is being viewed as one of their best in a long time.
V is for Viral Superstars
We've been blessed to have played host to some of Ireland's biggest viral superstars once again in 2014, from the auld lads in Galway manually moving the car to get to a GAA do, to the Armagh lad driving through a flood and probably our personal favourite, the auld lad in Leitrim disgusted after being duped into thinking that his son has failed his driving test.
W is for Water
2014 is the last year that we'll have the privilege of free water in Ireland and it safe to say that the fact we'll have to pay for it from now on pissed an awful lot of people off.
Protests - some peaceful, some not so peaceful - against the impending imposition of water charges took place throughout the country, culminating in a massive demonstration in Dublin in December, where ingenious signs like this were displayed to illustrate the mood of a nation.
X is for the X you'll be putting on your voting card for next year's Same-Sex Marriage Referendum
Back at the beginning of July, Enda Kenny announced that a referendum for same-sex marriage would take place in 2015. A move which pleased most people and a real indication that Ireland was growing up.
Panti was happy:
Good news. Referendum on same sex marriage to be held in the spring. Sooner than I'd imagined. http://t.co/hDc5JqaHBL
— Panti Bliss (@PantiBliss) July 1, 2014
Y is for YOLO (You only live once)
Irish people have been guilty as anyone in ensuring the rise of popularity of this cringe-worthy acronym over the course of the last 12 months. Please let it go the way of the Harlem Shake from 2013 and die a quick and painless death.
Z is for Zzzzz
Because 2014 was a long one and we need a good lie-down before attacking the f**k out of 2015.