Life & Style2022 Review of the Year

2022 Timeline: An Oscars slap, Russia’s attack, wildfires in Europe – a year to remember for all the wrong reasons

The shortest lived premiership in UK history, Aisling Murphy, Climate Change and death of Queen Elizabeth

January 12th

The nation is shocked by the murder of 23-year-old Aisling Murphy, who was attacked while out jogging along a canal trail near Tullamore, Co Offaly. The trail is popular with joggers and walkers, and the attack happened at 4pm when the area would have been busy. A 31-year-old Slovak national, Jozef Puška, is subsequently charged with her murder. The killing reignites a national debate about violence against women, and vigils are held across the country in memory of Aisling, a musician and member of the local Comhaltas.

January 29th

A diplomatic incident is narrowly avoided after Russia’s navy decides against holding military drills about 240km off the coast of West Cork. The announcement of the naval drills – outside Ireland’s sea territory but within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) sparked anger among Irish fishermen at the potential disruption of their traditional fishing grounds, and they had pledged to risk their lives to block the Russian vessels from carrying out their exercises. The planned naval exercises were particularly sensitive given international tensions over Ukraine.

February 24th

Russian president Vladimir Putin does what he said he would not do, and what the world knew he would do, launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by land, sea and air. Calling it a “special military operation” to “demilitarise and denazify” Ukraine. The world is quick to condemn Putin’s aggression, and unilateral sanctions are imposed, including the exclusion of Russian banks from the SWIFT global payments system. The invasion sparks the biggest refugee crisis since the second World War, with an estimated 8 million people fleeing Ukraine by summer.

February 28th

The Government removes almost all remaining Covid-19 restrictions, as the country exits from the emergency phase of the pandemic. From this day people are no longer legally required to wear masks, although they will be advised to wear masks on public transport and in healthcare settings. Mandatory testing has also been scrapped. After two long, exhausting years of lockdowns, shutdowns and bans on social gathering, the news is greeted with a mix of relief and caution, with some health experts warning that with a surge in infections of the Omicron variant, it’s too soon to lift restrictions.


March 7th

A man is arrested after ramming an ecclesiastical supplies truck into the gates of the Russian embassy in Orwell Road, Dublin, in protest at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The driver, Desmond Wisley, said as he was led away: “I’ve done my bit lads, it’s about time the rest of Ireland done their bit.” He claimed he was motivated by shocking images of a family killed in Irpin, Ukraine. Garda Commissioner Drew Harris denies accusations by the Russian embassy that gardaí stood idly by while the gates were being rammed, and the Russian ambassador, Yury Filatov, accuses the Irish Government of promoting “Russophobia”.

March 27th

The 94th Academy Awards take place at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, but the winners are pushed off the world headlines when Will Smith jumps out of his seat in the audience, walks onstage and slaps host Chris Rock in the face. Rock had been teasing Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, about her baldness and related hair loss disease alopecia. “Will Smith just smacked the sh** out of me,” said a shocked Rock. Smith later apologised to Rock for the incident, but the academy slapped him with a 10-year ban from attending the Oscars ceremony.

April 9th

Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan announces that he will retire in July and will not be taking up a controversial role as professor of public health strategy and leadership at Trinity College. While no one objected to the role, seen as appropriate for the person who ably steered the nation through the Covid-19 pandemic, questions arose about the nature and funding of the appointment, and why Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly was not informed that the role was a secondment from the Department of Health.

April 12th

In one of the biggest blows against the Kinahan organised crime gang, the US government issues a number of sanctions against the leaders of the gang – Christy Kinahan snr, Daniel Kinahan and Christopher jnr – in a bid to frustrate their international criminal operations. Rewards of up to $5 million are offered for information leading to the arrests of the three leaders, along with other associates, part of a joint action by Irish, US and British law enforcement agencies to tighten the net around the cartel.

May 17th

The row over ownership and governance of the new National Maternity Hospital is reignited when the Government approves plans to relocate the hospital to St Vincent’s University Hospital. Protests are held outside Leinster House amid fears that the order of nuns who own the land on which the hospital is to be built may interfere with the provision of vital services to women including abortion. Taoiseach Micheál Martin tells the Dáil it’s time to put the long-running controversy to a close and just get the damn thing built so that women can get the care they need.

May 28th

Ireland records its first case of monkeypox. Having emerged from two gruelling years of Covid-19, there is a collective groan at the news of a potential new pandemic, as the disease, which is spread via close contact, has seen an unprecedented geographical spread across the world. By July, the World Health Organisation will declare the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

June 1st

The long-running courtroom battle between Hollywood stars Johnny Depp and Amber Heard comes to a close, with both parties being found to have defamed each other. Depp had sued his former wife for defamation over an op-ed in the Washington Post alleging “sexual violence” and “domestic abuse”; Heard had countersued. The trial was live-streamed and became a top topic on social media, as lurid claims and revelations were widely shared, with the Guardian dubbing it “trial by TikTok”. In the end Depp is awarded $15 million (€14.2 million) and Heard $2 million, but the long-term damage to their reputations will be harder to quantify.

June 24th

The US supreme court overturns the 1973 Roe v Wade legislation, saying that the US constitution does not confer a right to abortion, and leaving it up to individual states to pass laws either curtailing or banning abortion. The ruling sparks protests across the US, and US president Joe Biden condemns the supreme court ruling, saying the health and lives of American women were now at risk, and that the decision risks “taking the country back 150 years”.

July 7th

Boris Johnson bows to the inevitable and announces that he will resign as leader of the Conservative Party, following a slew of resignations from his cabinet, including chancellor Rishi Sunak and Northern secretary Brandon Lewis. “Them’s the breaks,” says Johnson, who pledged to stay on in the role of PM until an even more unsuitable replacement could be found. Needless to say, there was no shortage of candidates who fitted that bill.

July 19th

Wildfires sweep across Europe as temperatures reach record levels, with few in doubt that climate change has helped light the spark. Almost 4,000 deaths are recorded across the Continent due to heatwaves. More than 12,000 people are evacuated from France’s Gironde region, as more than 1,000 firefighters battled blazes. In Spain, where temperatures have reached 45.7 degrees, more than 3,000 people are evacuated from their homes in Mijas in the province of Malaga due to a large wildfire.

August 3rd

Right-wing radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who runs the InfoWars website, recants his claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was faked, and that the murdered schoolchildren were actors. After years making false claims to his millions of followers, Jones concedes that the 2012 shooting in Connecticut was “100 per cent real” after meeting victims’ families. He is later ordered by a jury to pay $965 million to the families of the victims, the largest payout by a civil defendant in US history.

August 8th

The FBI enters the Mar-a-Lago residence of former US president Donald Trump on foot of a search warrant, and remove several boxes of classified documents allegedly taken unlawfully from the White House. Among the documents being sought by the FBI were secret documents related to nuclear weapons. Trump supporters condemn the search as politically motivated, and Trump, on his Truth Social platform, calls it a “co-ordinated attack”. The incident could have legal implications for Trump as he mulls a third tilt at the White House in 2024.

September 6th

Liz Truss is appointed Britain’s prime minister after beating her close rival Rishi Sunak in the race to replace Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party. Thus begins the shortest-lived – and one of the most chaotic – premierships in British political history. Less than a month later, her “mini-budget”, cooked up with her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, will cause an unprecedented run on British bonds, see sterling drop to its lowest level against the dollar, and force the Bank of England to intervene to save Britain’s economy from collapsing. Within 49 days, Truss will hand in her resignation, and a chastened Tory membership will install Rishi Sunak as prime minister.

September 8th:

Britain is plunged into national mourning with the death of Queen Elizabeth at the age of 96. The country’s longest-reigning monarch – who over 70 years was seen as a uniting figure through turbulent times – passed away at Balmoral Castle in Scotland after a deterioration in her health. Her death sets in motion long-planned funeral arrangements, displaying all the pomp and ceremony of Britain’s monarchy. With her death, her son Prince Charles becomes King Charles III and her grandson William and his wife Catherine become Prince and Princess of Wales.

October 7th

An explosion at an Applegreen petrol station in Creeslough, Co Donegal leaves 10 people dead, and the entire community reeling. The blast destroyed the petrol station and caused the collapse of part of an adjoining apartment building. Emergency services and volunteers worked for two days to rescue survivors and recover bodies from the rubble, and President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina Higgins were among the many public figures who visited the village to offer comfort and condolences.

October 28th

Elon Musk completes his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter and immediately fires a bunch of top executives, including Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal. The Twitterverse has been abuzz with speculation since the capricious Musk announced his intention to buy the social media platform in April. Chaos reigns as Musk begins culling the workforce, including the Irish staff of 500. Many Twitter users are worried that content moderation will go out the window as Musk says he will restore former US president Donald Trump’s account, which had been suspended following the January 6th, 2021 attack on the US Capitol building.

November 8th

The US midterm elections are held, as all the indicators point to a landslide victory for Republicans. But the predicted “red wave” failed to materialise, and Democrats retained control of the Senate, while Republicans won back control of the House of Representatives by a slimmer than anticipated margin. The results strengthen Biden’s hand as he begins the downhill run of his presidency, and weakens Trump as he announces his bid for the White House in 2024, with many of the extreme right candidates he backed being roundly defeated.

November 20th

The Cop27 climate conference, held in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt, finally runs out of hot air, as deflated delegates wrap up another international talkathon that many suspect will not translate into real climate action. Climate activists claimed Cop27 has been hijacked by the fossil fuel industry, but at least it made some headway on the issue of loss and damage, with the world’s richest countries pledging to pay out billions to developing countries who have been most severely affected by climate catastrophe not of their own making.

December 7th

China rows back on its disastrous zero-Covid policy, which has seen rigid lockdowns, businesses shuttered and the economy take a severe hit. The change comes after mass protests across the country against president Xi Jinping’s repressive disease control policies, which, despite the low death rate in China from Covid, was causing suffering and hardship far out of proportion to the threat from Covid. But the country is still a long way from full lifting of restrictions, so expect more protests until China can learn to live with the virus.

December 18th

The 2022 World Cup comes to a conclusion in Qatar, bringing to an end a tournament mired in controversy but also marked by some hugely entertaining football – with no shortage of twists, turns and surprise exits. At the start of the tournament, Fifa head Gianni Infantino tried to damp down accusations of corruption and sportswashing by making a bizarre Hamlet-style speech, claiming “today I feel disabled” and “today I am a migrant worker”. But despite concerns about the Qatar regime’s treatment of women, LGBT people and migrant workers, millions tuned in to see the last international hurrahs of such stars as Cristiano Ronaldo, Luca Modric and Lionel Messi.

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney

Kevin Courtney is an Irish Times journalist