April Fools’ Day: The best and worst pranks for 2016

Shrinking dogs, knighthoods, Brexit, Minions and Trump-free island retreats

Feeling somewhat bewildered by news reports and Facebook feeds this Friday morning? It may be that annual wave of April Fools' Day pranks infiltrating the media, big brands and businesses around the world.

Here are some of the best, and worst, 2016 jokes.

RTÉ's Morning Ireland began the day bright and early with the news that Marty Morrissey had been offered an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to sport.

The Avondhu local newspaper for Cork, Waterford, Limerick and Tipperary reported that Michael Flatley's Castlehyde mansion had been bought by the Unification Church, a group also known as the Moonies.


It wrote that the deal would be signed this Friday when a delegation from the church’s US headquarters meet Flatley’s legal team but added that a number of locals were planning to demonstrate against the purchase.

Kildare Now issued an apology on Friday afternoon after its April Fools' prank went a couple of steps too far. The Co Kildare news website posted a story early on April Fools' Day claiming that a jihadist had taken over a Kildare landmark.

The article wrote” “Irish security forces have placed a ring of steel around the Allen area and road diversions are in place until further notice after a male calling himself Paddy Jihaddy said he had rigged the area with explosives and that he was renaming the locality the Hill of Allah.”

The article was accompanied by an image of a landmark in Kildare with an Islamic State flag photoshopped on top.

Twitter users rapidly responded to the post, describing it as ill-judged and a disaster of an attempt at an April Fools’ prank.

The website later posted an apology online, saying the story was "completely unauthorised" and was not posted by a member of the editorial team.

“KildareNow would like to apologise unreservedly to everybody who was rightly offended by the article which was extremely insensitive especially in light of recent tragic events in Brussels and elsewhere,” wrote the post.

Google also had to take a step back on its elaborate April Fools' Day prank after the introduction of a new "send & mic drop" button backfired and led to countless users sending Minion gifs in place of job applications and business correspondence.

Google announced on its blog first thing on Friday that Gmail was making life easier to have the last word on any email with Mic Drop.

“Simply reply to any email using the new ‘Send + Mic Drop’ button. Everyone will get your message, but that’s the last you’ll ever hear about it. Yes, even if folks try to respond, you won’t see it,” the company wrote on its blog.”

“When you drop the mic, your email will also include an explanatory image just to help set expectations.”

Within a few hours Google had reversed the prank after a number of Gmail users unknowingly inserted minion gigs into work emails.

UKIP's Nigel Farage led the Twitter feed of April Fools' Day jokes by posting: "I've decided that today is the perfect time to announce that I'll be supporting the campaign to remain in the EU".

Comedian Joe Heenan posted a photo of two forlorn looking children holding a sheet of paper with the words "April Fool! Ha Ha" written on it. "Told my kids I got them an iPad but it's just the box," explained Heenan in the tweet.

Queen Elizabeth II has featured in a number of April Fool's Day pranks this year. The Guardian's "royal correspondent" reported in an exclusive story that the royal family was "seriously considering making a dramatic intervention in the referendum debate" announcing that it supported Britain remaining inside the EU.

The correspondent writes that “according to a senior source close to official figures” and “using outside experts” the family has decided that the move should be fronted by Prince Philip.

In Australia, the news.com.au online news agency reported on a secret plan to rename the state of Victoria after Queen Elizabeth II. The article writes that secret documents show the state is to be renamed in honour of the Queen on her 90th birthday. However, it warns that the plans have been blasted as "preposterous... baloney from a gaggle of starry eyed monarchists."

Also in Australia, Groupon offered one family the chance of escape if Donald Trump becomes the next US president. The one-off offer would allow the family to retreat to a Trump-free island paradise or 'Isle of Eden' for four years for the duration of Trump's presidential term. Groupon says the offer is an all-expenses paid holiday but warns that there will be no access to the outside world.

The German embassy in the UK reported that the German government had decided to introduce a new policy aimed at establishing rugby as the country’s new national sport.

In a post on the German Missions website, it wrote: “At the unveiling of the far-reaching measures that will see rugby become an integral part of German culture, including hens that lay rugby ‘eggs’, government spokesperson G. Flügel stated that the country would “focus all attention and efforts on winning the 7 Nations Championship.”

Brexit was definitely the theme of April Fools' pranks across the UK media, with the Telegraph reporting that England could face a Euro2016 ban if Britain votes to leave the EU.

“Solidarity is a core principle in Europe, and this is true in the great game of football no less than trade or politics,” Jurgen Loos, the former German central midfielder was reported as saying. “If Britain leaves, then we should be clear: ‘out’ means ‘out’.”

The UK Independent reported that Scotland and Wales may form their own country if Britain votes to leave the EU. It wrote that members of the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Government were in talks regarding the design for a bridge or tunnel linking the two countries directly via the Isle of Man, with the "Celtic Union" among a number of name suggestions that would ultimately be decided at a second referendum.

In a stark departure from western countries’ joy in orchestrating elaborate pranks on the first day of April, an official of the Chinese Communist Party slammed April Fools’ Day as an ideologically unsound Western conspiracy that does not sit easily with China’s traditional values.

In 2013, the government introduced a rule whereby anyone who tweeted something suspicious or seditious that was retweeted more than 500 times faced prosecution.

Here at The Irish Times, following the news that from today all dogs in Ireland are required by law to be microchipped, Damian Cullen wrote that many owners had reported their canine companions shrinking in the weeks and months after the new microchips were fitted.

Frank “Steel” Doyle, from Kilkenny City, said he went to his local vet as soon as he noticed his dog, Toodles Galore, had started to reduce in size.

“She used to fit perfectly in my motorcycle top box. Now, she fits in my jacket pocket.”

The Irish Times pranks extended into the realm of movie reviews withDonald Clarke awarding five stars to Ewok of Ages - the latest Star Wars release to be "dropped" straight into the laps of astonished Star Wars fans.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast