Feeling a bit of deja vu. When it comes to the topics that gained the most reader attention on irishtimes.com this year, some have a familiar ring.
Covid, for example, is still around. Plenty of rugby. Abject political turmoil in the UK and the tremors of Brexit. Harry and Meghan. Others, including the increasing weight of a cost-of-living crisis and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, carry with them the indelible mark of “2022″.
Below is a selection of stories that readers were particularly interested in, as well as some other strong articles which you might have missed during the year.
As 2022 draws to a close, it doesn’t bear itemising each heartbreaking story of individual tragedy that caught the attention of readers throughout the year. At home and abroad a number of unspeakably sad incidents and personal circumstances were among the stories that Irish Times readers chose to read. The killing of Ashling Murphy in Co Offaly in January, as well as the killings of Aidan Moffitt and Michael Snee in Sligo in April, clearly had a huge impact on readers.
In Europe, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia was the subject of much breaking news, analysis and feature journalism in 2022. From early on the morning of February 24th and spanning the rest of the year, the war in Europe has been a constant on the homepages of news sites across the world, and irishtimes.com is no different. The top-read stories concerning the conflict were largely Irish angles: Russian state TV shows clips simulating Ireland being wiped out by nuclear weapons; and Protective barriers erected at Russian embassy after truck drives through gates. You can read ongoing reporting from Ukraine here.
Although the focus on Covid-19 dimmed considerably as the months wore on, the interest in the subject until spring meant articles on the pandemic were among the most-read stories in this category. These stories tell a tale themselves; from articles about the Omicron variant in the early part of the year, to the lifting of restrictions on society. It was the latter that became the most-read Covid story when it was published in January: “Time to be ourselves again”: Taoiseach confirms end to almost all Covid-19 restrictions.
Elsewhere in news, and garnering huge reader numbers, were a story about the announcement of Government grants to help retrofit homes, and another about an Aer Lingus flight from Zurich, during which passengers were told the plane would be making an emergency landing in the sea. Two minutes later, they were told to ignore the message.
In world news, the death of Queen Elizabeth II attracted huge reader interest, from the report on Charles becoming king, to analysis about the queen’s reign and the impact of her death, including this piece from Susan McKay: Queen Elizabeth’s death is an earthquake for Northern Irish unionists. Staying with the UK, this Fintan O’Toole piece, published the day after Liz Truss announced her resignation following a notably short stint as the UK prime minister, also managed to grab readers’ attention: Liz Truss farce was death rattle of the Brexit project.
Elsewhere, rolling early reports of the assassination of Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe were also among the most-read stories for the year when it came to world news.
On just the second day of 2022, the death of Aoife Beary at age 27 was announced. It was the most-read story on the website this year, undoubtedly reflecting the impact made by Ms Beary in her campaigning efforts following the Berkeley balcony collapse in 2015. Ms Beary, along with six others, was left with life-changing injuries after the incident in California, in which six of her friends died.
More from News:
United Nations advises staff against using ‘war’ or ‘invasion’ regarding Ukraine
How Clare Daly and Mick Wallace became stars of authoritarian state media
The Kinahan files: Leaked documents expose workings of global empire
Mortgages, employment and personal finance, with a particular nod to pensions - in general terms, those were the main points of interest for Irish Times Business readers this year. With consecutive hikes in ECB rates, speculation over a potentially impending recession and a cost-of-living crisis that tightened its grip during the year, this is perhaps not surprising.
The most read piece on Business in 2022 was a personal finance Q&A, written by Dominic Coyle, and prompted by a query from a reader having trouble due to having their ex-partner’s name on their mortgage: Ex-partner wants house sold years after he stopped paying mortgage. Similar pieces in and around the top 10 most-read include: Family haven’t bothered transferring dead parents’ house into their names, and Waiting for inheritance since parents died almost 20 years ago.
Another story high up on the Business list concerned solicitor Ammi Burke, and an unfair dismissal claim she took against Arthur Cox being thrown out by the Workplace Relations Commission. Read it here.
Covid lets itself be known again, this time in relation to a piece of analysis on skyrocketing house prices by Eoin Burke-Kennedy, published in May: Covid-induced surge in Irish house prices has reached tipping point. The piloting of Ireland’s first basic income scheme - warmly welcomed in the arts sector - was another popular subject, with this explainer by Fiona Reddan finishing within the top 20 for the section: “A welcome step”: Ireland’s first basic income scheme on the way.
It’s worth noting that irishtimes.com and the app underwent a complete redesign in May, and with it came new ways of grouping stories. One new section, Your Money, gathers all personal finance reporting, analysis and advice in one place.
Focusing on that crop of articles, it’s easy to spot the impact of and reader interest in rising prices. The very top story for the year in this section deals with how daily activities hit your pocket - from toasting two slices of bread or taking a shower, to running a fridge-freezer or watching TV. Conor Pope counts those daily costs, and many others, in the article here.
Here are some more of 2022′s top stories from Business and Your Money:
‘You can leave the office by midday on Friday and no one bats an eyelid’
Shocking treatment from Aer Lingus after customer’s husband dies during visit home
Revolut Iban discrimination means I cannot get paid
In Culture, some of the usual suspects reigned supreme this year. The long-list features some Bono news, TV reviews (Ed Power’s less-than-favourable take on The Rings of Power - the hotly anticipated and ultimately disappointing $1 billion Lord of the Rings spin-off behemoth - among them) and a number of Mick Heaney’s evaluations of Irish radio, most prominently: Bad Blood between Ciara Kelly and Shane Coleman on Newstalk. There’s also a very popular St Patrick’s Day quiz in the mix.
The top 10 is very 2022-ish. Numbers three and eight are about how to play Wordle, the word game craze that stood out for the speed at which it exploded on the internet, and the even snappier time it took for people to stop tweeting about it every day some time after it was acquired by the New York Times. This year’s fidget-spinner (don’t @ me if you’re still playing, I am too). Here’s one, and the other.
Another event that will handily date the spreadsheet for the digital archaeologists of the future occurred in March, when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock at the Oscars. This article about the saga was very well clicked, sitting within the top 20 pieces.
The very top piece marked Culture in terms of overall pageviews probably reveals what we already know about the post-Christmas doldrums: people crave things to watch in January to block-fill hours of precious time. The piece was of course Netflix: 10 of the best new TV shows to watch in January.
Another popular read in this section was Róisín Ingle’s interview with Mia Döring, whose chilling memoir Any Girl dealt with dark memories from the author’s past and her experience of Ireland’s sex trade.
Here are some of the other top stories from Culture:
‘My curiosity made me want to meet the wife of the man I was having an affair with’
A ghost estate and an empty grave: ‘I don’t think Northern Ireland was worth one life’
Louise O’Neill: ‘My career took off. My life changed. And I fell apart’
As was the case in world news, the reader interest in the invasion of Ukraine by Russia is clear from some of the most-read articles in the Opinion section. In fact, of the 10 top-read articles, four feature Vladimir Putin in the headline, though not all were exclusively about the war.
This piece, written by columnist David McWilliams in April, was among the most read in Opinion: Germany has sealed Ukraine’s fate. Putin’s gamble has paid off. Other top articles with the Russian leader’s name in the headline were penned by Stephen Collins - though Sinn Féin was the primary subject here, really (Sinn Féin’s brazen volte-face on Putin should be seen for what it is); Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times (Vladimir Putin’s grand plan is unravelling), and Fintan O’Toole (Fintan O’Toole: Putin miscalculated the loyalty of his cheerleaders in the West).
Politics in Northern Ireland is normally never far from the daily most-read lists, and the data for the year in total is no different. The most-read pieces in Opinion featured a piece by Susan McKay concerning the sectarianism of comments by former British Labour MP Kate Hoey in a preface to a report by loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson, and later welcomed by DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson: North’s politics take a dark turn in sectarian direction.
As it happens, Donaldson pops up elsewhere in the most-read pieces, within the top 10, in this column in the wake of his meeting with the new British king in Hillsborough Castle: Newton Emerson: King Charles sends Jeffrey Donaldson a blunt message.
This year’s data, across a number of sections, also reflects the increased attention paid to a deepening housing crisis. In Opinion, one piece in particular that drew readers was written by Pat Davitt, chief executive of the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers: Why are private landlords selling up despite record rents?
For more from Opinion, see below:
Jennifer O’Connell: Jailed teacher Enoch Burke might have done us all a favour
David McWilliams: China is experiencing a giant property crash. Ireland could be next
Una Mullally: What does it mean to say ‘up the ‘Ra’? And why does it keep happening?
Eddie Jones called out World Rugby after his England side lost 15-32 to Ireland at Twickenham during the most recent Six Nations, and the story wound up being one of the most popular articles in the Sport section this year. The (now ex) England coach wasn’t happy with the refereeing decisions - and Irish Times readers were evidently very keen to read all about it. The article features among a list of top stories that includes Katie Taylor’s dominance on the world boxing stage, a good amount of golf coverage, and quite a bit of rugby. Special mention here for Gerry Thornley’s piece about how Ireland secured a historic series win over New Zealand this summer.
Rugby refereeing, in particular, pops up regularly. In one way or another, it’s the topic of three of the top 10 most-read stories in Sport this year, from Eddie’s gripe above, to this piece: World Rugby may ask Jaco Peyper to change his tune on several controversial decisions in Ireland’s win over All Blacks, and this column from Owen Doyle - Not even South Africa could’ve resisted England’s illegal scrum.
The World Cup received a predictably high level of attention, though much of it not for the action on the pitch. This piece from Ken Early, written in the days before the epic, storybook conclusion to the tournament that would come to dominate headlines, took a look at the host city of Doha - where the writer describes an unsettling air of fakeness that pervades everything: Ken Early in Doha: This simulation of a city is a place produced when money and lives are no object.
Last month, Malachy Clerkin spoke with the family of Red Óg Murphy, the young Sligo footballer who died tragically by suicide earlier in the year. Those closest to the 21-year-old implored young people to speak about their problems. The piece can be found here: The life and death of Red Óg Murphy: “We had no reason to believe anything was wrong”.
More from sport:
Chastened Murphy eager to get back doing what he does best
Taylor stands tallest on a magical night at the Garden
Gerry Thornley: Time to ban the booze during games at the Aviva
Life and Style
In case it hasn’t been repeated enough: it was hard to escape Covid coverage, and that includes in the Life and Style section. While the top stories for the year here feature familiar columnists and well-covered topics (I’m looking at Harry and Meghan), one of the most read came in the form of a piece concerning the surge in Omicron variant cases across the globe: Covid-19 symptoms: How do I know if I have Omicron or Delta?
Not far behind were the aforementioned (former?) royals, via this piece from Jennifer O’Connell: Harry and Meghan baby-photo fallout shows they were right to leave Britain and the royals. Also among the top stories: the Ukrainian refugees who came to Ireland and went back home again; How to spot a workplace bully: It’s the person with “high unhealthy” self-esteem; and Daniel O’Donnell’s former Donegal home goes sale agreed.
In the same way personal finance stories found a new home in Your Money, a number of sections that were formerly housed within Life and Style got their own section post-redesign of our site and app. These include, for example, Health, where one piece stood out for its obvious impression on readers: “We nearly lost our boy due to men who needed the under-12 win to make them feel they were great”. Many advice columns are regularly in the most-read; this year, the one readers focused on most was this instalment of Trish Murphy’s column, Tell Me About It: “I’m 39 and single . . . how do I stop yearning for a loving relationship and be content with a pretty great life?”
Finally, it’s worth mentioning another increasingly popular sub-section: Food. A number of food pieces made a splash this year, chief among them Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipe for the world’s best chocolate cake, and our food writers’ guide to 100 of the best restaurants, cafes and places to eat in Ireland in 2022.
Here are some other top picks from Life and Style:
Rosita Boland: Something happened on the train to Galway which I have waited my whole life to see
Seán Moncrieff: My drinking is under control now, but it is a constant effort
Hilary Fannin: The bill for our scrambled eggs arrives. We quickly remortgage to come up with the cash
You can find a selection of some of the top stories in terms of reader numbers across all sections of the site, in no particular order, here.