Reeling in the Years looks back to the hits and the headlines of 2018. Ireland came to a standstill when two big weather events collided: the 'Beast From The East' and ‘Storm Emma’ brought blizzards and freezing temperatures across the country. Schools were closed for several days, airports were shut down and shops ran short of food supplies - watch here.
Ireland celebrated two world rowing titles in September. Brothers Gary and Paul O’Donovan won the men’s lightweight double sculls, and Sanita Pušpure won the women’s double sculls.
In November, boxer Kellie Harrington became women’s world lightweight champion.
2018 was the year of the ‘Thai Cave Rescue’. When 12 boys and their soccer coach were trapped by heavy flooding in a remote cave complex, Thai authorities launched an
international rescue operation. Ten days later, the boys and their coach were found 4km from the cave entrance. Although the boys were located, further heavy flooding threatened their rescue. The mission claimed the lives of two divers. It was another eight days before the boys and their coach were all brought to safety.
In July, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump visited the UK. The visit was marked by widespread public protests.
Brexit dominated the political agenda in Ireland and the UK this year.
Although the border in Ireland had barely registered as an issue in the UK’s referendum debate, it emerged as a major difficulty in Brexit negotiations. As a ‘no-deal Brexit loomed, Dublin pushed for a ‘backstop’ guarantee to avoid a hard border. British prime minister Theresa May led a divided Tory party, itself depending on the DUP’s support to govern. After 18 months of negotiations, the EU and the UK settled a Withdrawal Agreement. However. although Theresa May had agreed a deal the EU, she could not get it through her own parliament. The uncertainty continued…
Cork aimed for another ‘Rebel double’ in the All-Ireland camogie and LGFA finals. Cork won the camogie title with a single point victory over Kilkenny, 0-14 to 0-13.
In the LGFA final, Dublin denied Cork the 2018 All-Ireland double, securing victory by 3-11 to 1-12.
After 34 years as leader of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams stepped down. Mary Lou McDonald was elected unopposed at a special Ard Fheis in Dublin.
Limerick woman Vicky Phelan settled a court action against a US laboratory for €2.5 million. She had been given incorrect smear test results in 2011, and was terminally ill with cancer. When Vicky Phelan went public, it led to a review into the HSE’s CervicalCheck programme. The review identified 221 women, many of whom could have benefitted from a different intervention. Several women had since died, and others were terminally ill. Emma Mhic Mhathúna developed cancer after getting the all clear in several tests up to 2013. She died on 7 October 2018. By her request, the funeral cortège passed several State buildings, including Leinster House.
In 1983, the Eighth Amendment was voted into the constitution. Ireland’s strict ban on abortion had divided society for decades. In 2018, following a Citizens’ Assembly and Oireachtas committee hearings, the government moved to repeal the amendment in a new referendum. The campaign was played out on the streets, on social media and on the airwaves. Polling day was 25 May. A high turnout of 64% included many people coming home from abroad to vote. As exit polls and early tallies indicated a decisive ‘Yes’ vote to repeal the amendment, campaigners gathered at Dublin Castle for the national result declaration. The Eighth Amendment was repealed by 1,429,981 votes (66.4%) to 723,632 (33.6%).
American actor Meghan Markle married Britain’s Prince Harry at Windsor Castle in May. The newlyweds’ first official overseas visit was to Ireland in July.
A one-point victory over Galway gave Limerick hurlers a first All-Ireland in 45 years. The final score was 3-16 to 2-18.
Dublin’s footballers made it four All-Irelands in a row: they beat Tyrone by 2-17 to 1-14.
In October, the Disclosures Tribunal published its report. The report completely vindicated Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe: it found that senior Gardai had conducted a ‘campaign of calumny’ against him. Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan issued a State apology to Maurice McCabe.
On Saturday 25 August, Pope Francis came to Ireland on a two-day visit. It was the first papal visit to Ireland since 1979. Pope Francis visited Dublin’s Pro Cathedral and the Capuchin Day Centre for homeless people. A concert at Croke Park formed part of the international World Meeting of Families event. On Sunday 26 August, Pope Francis travelled to Knock Shrine in Co. Mayo. In Knock, he commented on the ‘open wound’ of sex abuse in the Catholic Church.
The papal visit was marked by several protests and demonstrations, as abuse survivors and other groups called for redress, accountability and transparency.
Around 150,000 people attended the final public event of the visit. Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Phoenix Park in Dublin.
President Michael D Higgins launched his campaign for re-election. There were five other candidates in the presidential election. They included independent senator Joan Freeman and Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada. Gavin Duffy and Seán Gallagher were one-time TV judges from the ‘Dragon’s Den’ show. Peter Casey was a third former ‘Dragon’: his comments on Traveller ethnicity provoked the biggest controversy of the campaign. In the election, Michael D Higgins was the clear winner with 55.8% of first preference votes. Peter Casey came second with 23.3%.
The summer of 2018 was one of the hottest and driest on record. The heatwave brought water shortages, melting roads and prolonged drought. In some areas, a hosepipe ban lasted for three months. Firefighters battled extensive gorse and forest fires. June and July saw daily temperatures regularly exceed 30C degrees.
In Six Nations men’s rugby, the France v Ireland match saw a stunning final few minutes. Johnny Sexton’s drop goal in stoppage time delivered a 15-13 victory for Ireland. Led by Joe Schmidt, the Irish team went on to win the nation’s third-ever rugby Grand Slam.
Ireland went to the women’s hockey World Cup finals as the second lowest ranked team, but they defied the odds to reach a semi-final against Spain. Ireland beat Spain in a penalty shootout. Although they lost the decider 6-0 to the Netherlands, Ireland’s women’s hockey players became the first national senior team to reach a World Cup final.
REELING IN THE YEARS 2018 PLAYLIST
Dermot Kennedy – Power Over Me
Jess Glynne – I’ll Be There
Wild Youth – Feel It Still
Portugal. The Man – Feel It Still
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Freya Ridings – Lost Without You
Kygo, Miguel – Remind Me To Forget
Rita Ora – Anywhere
Hozier, Mavis Staples – Nina Cried Power
Marshmello, Bastille - Happier
Ariana Grande – Thank U, Next
George Ezra – Shotgun
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