2003 saw over 7000 athletes from 160 countries take part in the Special Olympics in Ireland.

It was the year that the Spire in Dublin's O'Connell Street was completed, the Famine replica ship Jeanie Johnston made its maiden voyage to America, and Dubliner Rosanna Davison won the Miss World competition.

An exclusive photo deal with 'Hello' magazine meant that Ireland's wedding of the year took place behind closed doors in France: Westlife's Nicky Byrne married Georgina Ahern, daughter of Bertie and Miriam.

Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, on stage at Dublin's Croke Park, during the opening ceremony of the 2003 Special Olympics on 21 June.
Former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, on stage at Dublin's Croke Park, during the opening ceremony of the 2003 Special Olympics on 21 June.  Photo: Thomas Holton (via RTÉ Photographic Archive)

An exclusive photo deal with Hello magazine meant that Ireland's wedding of the year took place behind closed doors in France: Westlife's Nicky Byrne married Georgina Ahern, daughter of Bertie and Miriam.

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RTÉ News reports on the wedding of Nicky Byrne and Georgina Ahern on 9 August 2003 (via RTÉ Archives)

Overcrowding in Accident and Emergency departments, long waiting lists and ward closures led to crisis in Ireland's health services.

Abroad, 2003 was dominated by the debate over Iraq's supposed 'weapons of mass destruction'. US and British air attacks on Iraq were followed by a land war that saw the end of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime. However, although the US declared 'mission accomplished' after only six weeks of war, armed conflict and civil strife continued to grow across Iraq. 2003 was also the year of the Columbia shuttle disaster and the outbreak of SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome).

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RTÉ News reports as Mickey Joe Harte wins You're A Star on 10 March 2003 (via RTÉ Archives

Tyrone's Gaelic footballers brushed aside Pat Spillane's 'puke football' criticism and won their county's first senior All-Ireland title. On TV, it was the year You're A Star sent Mickey Harte to represent Ireland at Eurovision with We've Got The World, while the ill-fated Cabin Fever reality TV show hit the rocks when the boat sank off Tory Island.

2003 - The Playlist:

The Darkness - I Believe In A Thing Called Love

The Thrills - One Horse Town

Coldplay - Clocks

Junior Senior - Move Your Feet

 Mickey Harte - We've Got The World

Paddy Casey - Saints And Sinners

Mis-Teeq - Scandalous

Will Young - Leave Right Now

Jamelia - Superstar