Words: Eva O’Beirne, Ellen Kenny
From emerging out of pandemic restrictions in January to returning to the chaos of everyday life, this year has felt longer and more draining than most. Even without a pandemic, 2022 has been stacked with more news and more changes than most are prepared to deal with. Between the rising cost of living, the soaring cost of rent and a host of other social and political issues, it’s easy to look back on the year with few fond memories.
However, while we shouldn’t neglect the issues we have faced this year, we also shouldn’t neglect all the things that made 2022 a year to remember for the better. In Ireland, we’ve overcome a lot of hardships to see great triumphs.
We’ve seen Irish people succeed here and abroad. We’ve compiled the moments that show us that it’s not always bad news and to remind ourselves that 2022 had plenty of great times. As this year comes to a close, we’re looking back on the best moments of the year, from the wonderfully weird to the biggest points of pride. 2022 has been quite the whirlwind.
June 2022 saw the full return of Pride Month in all its glory since 2019, letting members of the LGBTQ+ go out in full force and celebrate who they are with the people they love. Of course, the return of Pride Month in full force also means the return of Rainbow Capitalism and companies marketing themselves as Pride-friendly to make a profit on the merchandise. Normally, this disingenuous strategy earns the ire of the LGBTQ+ community. But when a business simply and earnestly joins in on the fun we’re already having, it’s just a great moment for everyone.
The Spar on George’s Street gained a reputation as a haven for people coming out of the George who just want to devour an overpriced chicken fillet roll. This Spar became such an iconic part of a gay night out that it earned the honourable title of Gay Spar. While previously, Gay Spar never acknowledged their LGBTQ+ affiliations, this year they wished Dublin a “Happy Pride Month from Gay Spar”, joining in on the joke with pride.
We also loved their Chrimbo decorations for the holidays, truly a year-round ally.
2022 saw Irish artists, musicians and other creators revel in huge creative success. When it comes to Irish creations in 2022, none became so successful or celebrated Irish culture so much as “An Cailín Ciúin”, written and directed by Colm Bairéad. The carefully crafted coming-of-age story became an immediate success, breaking box office records for Irish language films and becoming a strong contender for best foreign language film at the Oscars.
As a film that celebrates Gaeilge, rural Ireland and forming your own identity, “An Cailín Ciúín” is a creative endeavour we should all be proud of.
You just love to see Irish people do well for themselves, right? Legendary Irish actor Brendan Gleeson was announced a host for an episode of “Saturday Night Live” in September, ahead of his latest film “The Banshees of Inisherin”. In true heartwarming Irish fashion, the nation reacted as if their nephew or neighbour down the road was about to be on the telly. Isn’t it great to see an Irish person with all those Yanks? Even if the actual show led to more cringing than laughing, we got to see Brendan Gleeson kick it on a skateboard and for that, we should be eternally grateful.
Described as ‘highly discriminatory’ by landlords, the eviction ban will prevent hundreds to possibly thousands of tenants from homelessness this winter. The first step to prioritising tenants’ rights, the eviction ban is a reminder that the Government can and should intervene to prevent homelessness in Ireland.
Despite a WAP (Wet Ass Picnic), festival season was a delight to witness this year. With more emphasis than ever on preserving the arts in Ireland and promoting local artists, we saw the return of Forbidden Fruit, All Together Now, Beyond the Pale, Other Voices, Body and Soul and more.
2022 saw the return of in-person at Ireland’s annual Culture Night, with more events across more cultural categories taking place later in the evening as well. Another new programme this Culture Night was a special gift for commuters. The Arts Council gifted 4,500 books to bus and train stations across Ireland, including Connolly, Heuston and Busáras, for passengers to pick up. The special “book conductors” offered 21 titles from Irish authors for commuters to enjoy on their travels.
As a country famous for its literary talent, it’s only fitting that efforts are made to show that off and celebrate our culture. And who doesn’t love looking like the mysterious main character on the train with a book?
The last few years have not been kind to Irish artists of all mediums, from more evictions to less pay, forcing many artists to leave Ireland for better opportunities. However, amid loss, we also saw redemption and new opportunities. Richmond Road Studios, one of the last remaining non-profit creative studios in Dublin, left their Richmond Road location over the summer after an unjust early eviction by a corporation that pays little attention to Irish culture.
But in September, members of the studio were delighted to announce that they had found a new home. At Phibsborough Tower, in a space offering 14 unique studios. Members of Richmond Road and Marie Sherlock emphasised the importance of solidarity in the creative industry to boost each other and prevent its deterioration.
Despite previous struggles, 2022 saw the beginning of artists of all mediums gaining more recognition for their work and contribution to Irish culture. 2,000 visual artists, dancers, actors and more were chosen to receive a basic income for the next three years in a pilot project before awarding basic income to more Irish artists. Despite the initial delay in the rollout, 2,000 artists will now receive 325 euros a week to test the value of basic income on their well-being and financial security as artists.
Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and the Media, Catherine Martin said, “The Basic Income for the Arts (BIA) pilot scheme is a once-in-a-generation initiative. It makes a strong statement about the value Ireland places on the arts and artistic practice, both for its intrinsic value and in terms of our personal and collective wellbeing, and also in terms of its importance to our identity and cultural distinctiveness on the global stage.”
It’s been a big year for fans of urban pedestrianisation. One positive Covid-19 brought to Ireland was shedding light on the value of pedestrianised streets and outdoor spaces. After months of campaigning and consultations with businesses and residents, Dublin City Council agreed in April that plans to pedestrianise Capel Street would move ahead at the end of May. Typically, Capel Street doesn’t appear in tourist guides as much as O’Connell Street or Grafton Street, but it’s always been one that Dubliners love, and now that it’s pedestrianised, there’s all the more to love. Capel Street was even named one of the coolest streets in the world by Time Out Magazine.
The effect of pedestrianising Capel Street has had positive outcomes. There are now plans to pedestrianise South William Street fully, and Parliament Square is also on its way to a traffic-free street. Despite challenges to pedestrianisation in August, traffic-free Capel Street is here to stay.
When A$AP Rocky and Rihanna dropped ‘D.M.B’ in May, the internet blew up with speculation that they had married secretly. Meanwhile, we were blowing up with pride at the animation sequences produced by Irish visual artists Paraic McGloughlin and Kevin McGloughlin. You truly love to see it.
The study by Four-Day Week Ireland, University College Dublin (UCD) and Boston College trialled a reduced work week with 12 different companies in different industries and evaluated the results. Employees worked 80 per cent of their previous hours while still earning 100 per cent of their wages. According to the published results, a reduced work week yielded positive results for employees and employers.
Stress, burnout, fatigue, and work-family conflict significantly declined among employees working four days a week. Average sleep time also increased from 7.02 hours a night to 7.72 hours.
Time spent on hobbies outside of work, including exercise, increased by 36 minutes per week thanks to the reduced working week. A four-day workweek also led to increased pro-environmental behaviour, including recycling more, walking and cycling instead of driving, educating others about the environment, and volunteering.
According to the study, the four-day workweek was particularly beneficial to women; they reported a significantly greater improvement in life satisfaction, had larger gains in sleep time and reported feeling more secure in their employment.
More of this please!
Galway-based Dough Bros ranked number 79 in the world’s top 100 pizzas this year during a ceremony that took place in the ancestral home of pizza – Naples, Italy. Organised by 50 Top Pizza, Dough Bros founders Eugene and Ronan Greaney were delighted to be the only team representing Ireland in the long list of contenders.
The Galway-based pizza institution was set up in 2013 and made its name on inventive pizzas that push the boundaries on what toppings traditionally go on a pizza. Having started as a food truck, the spot is now a Galway City institution, and it’s clearly feckin’ delicious.
Budget 2023 was one of the most anticipated budgets in recent memory, arriving weeks earlier to let people know how the government would adapt to the cost-of-living crisis. While not all policies and measures were welcomed, one small but incredibly beneficial step was taken. Free contraception was introduced to all women aged between 16 and 30, expanding last year’s provision of free contraception to 17 to 25-year-old women.
While the service is still only for those with a GP, and advocates want to see the scheme expand to women of all ages, this measure will save thousands of women hundreds of euros each year and improve reproductive health and safety in sex.
In November, the 23-year-old Northern Irish gymnast made sporting history by becoming Ireland’s first-ever gymnastics world champion as he outclassed his rivals to win pommel horse gold at the Artistic Gymnastics World Championships.
The win was a redemptive end to a difficult 14 months for McClenaghan, who was one of Ireland’s leading medal hopes at the Olympic Games in Tokyo last summer. His final routine in Tokyo came unstuck when he lost his balance and fell off the horse, ending his chances of making the podium.
McClenagh’s difficulty score of 6.400 at the World Championships was the highest in the field, matched only by one other gymnast, and nobody could match his brilliant execution score of 8.900.
Piloted last year for some counties, the free national home testing scheme was expanded to the whole country this year. People aged 17 and older can order a free STI test kit online, which is then delivered to their homes by post. Once you complete the test, you then post the samples back to the laboratory in a pre-paid envelope also included in the kit.
People will later receive their results by text or phone, with those in need of further testing or treatment referred to participating public STI clinics. During the initial five-month pilot scheme, over 13,700 kits were ordered – 5,000 of which were in the first 24 hours of the service going live. Over half of users said they never used a sexual health service before.
A great first step to tackling sexual stigma, you can order your very own kit here.
It was confirmed in September by the Government that, from January onwards, the minimum wage in Ireland will be raised by 80 cents from €10.50 to €11.30. And that’s not all – the Government plans to phase in a living wage over the next four years. Small victories.
According to the commissioned report, the current living wage in Ireland is €12.17, but other groups such as the Living Wage Foundation put the living wage at €12.90.
Hopefully the first step to decriminalisation and regulation, People Before Profit (PBP) TD Gino Kenny officially published his Misuse of Drugs (Cannabis Regulation) Bill 2022 and introduced it to the Dáil in November. The bill does not legalise cannabis but removes the criminal penalties for those using the drug.
Under the proposed legislation, it would become legal for people 18 and over to be in possession of up to 7 grams of cannabis and 2.5 grams of cannabis resin when there’s “reasonable inference” that it’s for personal use. Similar to legislation in Malta and Luxembourg, Kenny said on the bill, “I hope this bill can start a conversation in this country which can lead to the end of prohibition and usher in a new approach. One which will no longer see people unnecessarily criminalised and marginalised.”
The Arts Council and Dublin Port Company announced in September that the Odlums Flour Mill will be developed into 5,000 square metres of studios, performance spaces, and rehearsal rooms for artists in the city.
To address the urgent need for more artists’ space in Dublin, the Arts Council and Dublin Port Company have been working together since early 2022 to create a new space in the 15-storey Odlums. This development is part of the Art Council’s ten-year strategy Making Great Art Work, the Government’s Project Ireland 2040 and the Dublin Port Masterplan 2040. Grafton Architects will undertake a feasibility study on Odlums before development begins, and hopefully, they get a move on soon because we’d truly love to see it.
After years of criticism, the Irish Blood Transfusion Service finally announced that the blood donation deferral for gay and bisexual men would be removed by the end of 2022.
In March 2022, the year-long blood donation ban after sexual contact for queer men was reduced to four months. In December 2022, it was removed completely.
By expanding the donor pool and implementing an individual risk-assessment process, the IBTS hopes to face fewer blood shortages in Ireland. Check out your own ability to donate blood here.
Some of the best Irish moments are the ones that unite the nation in a good laugh over the weird and wonderful things that Irish people get up to.
After losing a Fantasy Football bet, Phil got a tattoo of radio personality, Eurovision host, and absolute gentleman Marty Whelan, on his thigh. Phil might technically be the loser of the bet, when you are blessed with a tattoo of one of Ireland’s national sweethearts on your thigh, I think we know who the real winner is. And when the man himself acknowledges your amazing tattoo, how could you not be delighted?
Ireland has seen its nighttime economy fade away, with four in every five nightclubs shutting their doors permanently since 2000. Strict licencing laws have prevented a proper bounceback for Irish nightlife since the pandemic, but 2023 will see some changes to that.
In October, the government approved legislation that will allow nightclubs to stay open until 06:00, pubs to stay open until 00:30 and late bars to stay open until 02:30. While staying out that late in the city is something to be cautious of, the reintroduction of Nitelink and the introduction of more 24 hour buses in the last year will definitely make the transition easier. The demand for proper nightlife may finally be met in Ireland, giving us something to look forward to in 2023.
While Ireland’s male soccer team remains excluded from the current FIFA World Cup, our women’s soccer team made history in October when they qualified for the 2023 Women’s World Cup.
Beating Scotland by one to zero points thanks to a last-minute strike by Donegal’s Amber Barrett, Ireland will join 31 other countries vying for the world title in Australia and New Zealand next summer. Barrett’s goal and Ireland’s victory were dedicated to the victims and families affected by the shocking Creeslough explosion days previously.
Nothing will bring a smile to your face like seeing your national women’s soccer team screaming Taylor Swift’s ‘Love Story’ in celebration.
Elsewhere on District: Uncharted: A Hyperpop Night is coming to the Workmans Cellar this Friday