A weird and wacky review of the decade

Robert O'Shea, tongue planted firmly in his cheek, takes a sideways look at the decade just passed
A weird and wacky review of the decade
The Ice Bucket Challenge was a popular charity event in 2014.

WHAT a decade! The tens, as some called them. The teens, said others. The tweens, as people insisted I stop calling them.

It was a decade that marked the century’s adolescence, when we moved from the pre-pubescent innocence of looking at our phones when they went ‘ping’, to a spotty infatuation with them that has developed into an unrequited passion from which we seem unlikely to recover.

But no, it is not my place to judge what that last decade meant. We will leave that to those in 100 years’ time, who will surely look back at us and laugh at our primitive ways, if they are not still being tortured by robots.

AlI I can do is report on some of the more weird and wonderful things that happened during 2010-2019, which looks like nine years when you see it like that, but is actually ten.

So let’s look back at what will become known as the Decade of Doom or the Decade of Delights, depending on what we do subsequently.

Miner Franklin Lobo, right, embraces his daughter Carolina after he was rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he had been trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo/Chilean government, Gabriel Ortega)
Miner Franklin Lobo, right, embraces his daughter Carolina after he was rescued from the collapsed San Jose gold and copper mine where he had been trapped with 32 other miners for over two months near Copiapo, Chile. (AP Photo/Chilean government, Gabriel Ortega)

2010

The year begins as it will end, with a big freeze. The first 10 days of January are the coldest spell Ireland has experienced in 40 years. Roads get salted, children build snowmen and someone points out that -4˚ looks like a guy sitting on a toilet.

A man slips on ice on RTÉ News and a nation laughs.

While vuvuzelas do their best to ruin the World Cup in South Africa, the most bizarre football-related story is when Paul Gascoigne goes to an armed siege in a dressing gown with a fishing rod and a cooked chicken.

In other news, the bacon is cured: The World Health Organisation declares the end to the ‘Swine Flu’ pandemic.

Thirty-three Chilean trapped miners are rescued after 69 days, which they all celebrate, except for one, who has to face both a wife and mistress when he emerges.

Tiger Woods apologises to the world and his wife for playing around.

Although Netflix makes streaming more common, the most popular show remains on TV with Downton Abbey, which could have been improved 400% if when, every time someone mentioned the palatial home, Cork basketball commentator Timmy McCarthy interrupted and shouted “Downtown!”

Mossad agents are discovered to have been carrying six fake Irish passports when they assassinate a Palestinian in a Dubai hotel.

The volcanic plume that blasts out of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland causes havoc in European air space for six days. It is one of the most disruptive eruptions since Krakatoa in 1883.

The unemployment rate is nearly 15% and Ireland is still recovering from the economic downturn that began in 2008.

Our politicians go hoarse telling the rest of Europe that “Ireland is not Greece”, after not being Iceland for a few years.

The European Commission, ECB and IMF, AK the Troika, agree to fund a three-year financial programme on the condition of austerity measures to cut government expenditure. When Brian Lenihan poses with the budget briefcase, the latches flip open and four flies escape.

Bubble wrap scarves are the most popular Christmas gift.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks with his wife Ri Sol Ju at Pyongyang Station in Pyongyang, North Korea (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walks with his wife Ri Sol Ju at Pyongyang Station in Pyongyang, North Korea (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

2011

A magnificent display by Richard Dunne rescues a 0-0 draw in Moscow and Ireland secure a play-off place for Euro 2012. FAI CEO John Delaney celebrates his contribution by throwing his tie into the crowd for one lucky fan to always cherish.

Also in Moscow, six cosmonauts emerge after 520 days in an isolation module to simulate a mission to Mars. The men speak of the intense boredom they had to endure, and only supporters of Giovanni Trapattoni’s Irish team can truly empathise.

Queen Elizabeth II visits us for the first time and receives a great welcome, although a look of fear crosses her face when she visits UCC and is told: “And now we’d like to introduce you to the provost.”

Fifty Shades Of Grey is the most popular book of the year. Some question the quality of the plot, but the binding is generally accepted to be very good.

A terraced house that looks like Hitler is discovered in Swansea. It becomes a big joke on social media until the owner decides to knock down a wall into his neighbour’s to increase the size of his living room.

A film of a dog named Fenton chasing deer through Richmond Park in London somehow doesn’t win the Oscar for Best Picture.

Another dog in the wrong place at the wrong time sees a Chinese restaurant in the UK face rumours, after a diner says they began choking on a microchip from a greyhound. The restaurant denies the allegation, although it is later discovered numbers one to six on their takeaway menu had the word ‘trap’ before them.

North Korea has a new leader when 28-year-old Kim Jong-Un takes over after his father Kim Jong-Il dies. The dead Kim was famous for his complete control of information in the autocracy and for shooting a 38-under par round at Pyongyang Golf Club.

Gangnam Style was a hit in 2012.
Gangnam Style was a hit in 2012.

2012

Gangnam Style! Also swinging with some style in Korea is a musical phenomenon, a pop song whose video becomes the first on YouTube to reach one billion views.

David Cameron leaves his eight-year-old daughter in a pub. He and the rest of the family were already driving back to their countryside retreat, Chequers, when they noticed she was missing. Not wanting to leave something, while being responsible for leaving it, will be something the UK Prime Minister will get used to.

The head of one of the country’s biggest fruit and veg companies is jailed for six years after he avoids paying higher custom duty on over a thousand tonnes of garlic by having it labelled as apples. The import tax on garlic can reach 232%, while other foodstuffs have rates as low as 9%. The vampire lobby remains silent on the issue.

Hurtling back quite fast from the edge of space is Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner. He freefalls for four minutes and 19 seconds before opening his parachute.

Another famous drop this year is the mic drop, which comes back into fashion after U.S President Barack Obama performs it on a U.S talk show. It is only years later that it is discovered that the craze was initiated by a microphone repair man.

Also plunging from a great height is Queen Elizabeth, who skydives into the Olympic arena in London with James Bond and lights the flame when she flicks a match towards the torch on her way down.

Also in London, Julian Assange drops into the Ecuadorian Embassy, and stays for seven years.

Tinder is launched and people put their nicest photos of themselves on the dating app.

Not putting the best face on things is a woman who decides to touch up a 100-year-old painting of Jesus in a Spanish church. The do-it-yourself restoration actually ends up making the town a tourist hub. A non-expert tackling the job of a professional, thinking they can do a better job and failing completely while also somehow succeeding, sums up the decade fairly well.

A Mayan prophecy predicting the end of the world on December 21, 2012, fails to come true, except for those people who died on that day. If it had been correct, this review of the decade would have ended here.

This June 9, 2013 photo provided by The Guardian newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee at the U.S. National Security Agency, in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/The Guardian, File)
This June 9, 2013 photo provided by The Guardian newspaper in London shows Edward Snowden, who worked as a contract employee at the U.S. National Security Agency, in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/The Guardian, File)

2013

Edward Snowden releases thousands of classified documents that reveal a global surveillance programme perpetrated by the U.S government, although a glance at social media suggests we are more concerned not enough people are listening to us.

Pope Benedict XVI steps down on the 15th anniversary of the death of Father Ted, Dermot Morgan. He is replaced by Argentinian Pope Francis, who once proposed to a woman. I bet that woman feels silly now: if she’d said yes she’d be married to the Pope.

In South Africa, Nelson Mandela dies and Paralympian Oscar Pistorious takes a sprint away from freedom by shooting his fianceé.

HMV shuts down in Ireland, but not before the Anglo tapes are released, which most fans admit is not as good as their early work.

While people are becoming more interested in where their food is coming from, whether it is sourced locally, contains gluten or is ethically produced, they also discover they may be eating horses. Even desserts don’t escape the scandal because if you have trifle with too much cream you could be warned for excessive use of the whip.

The world bee population begins to decline alarmingly, while Spider-man films mysteriously continue to multiply.

Alex Ferguson steps down as Manchester United manager after 26 years and five extra minutes at the helm.

The greatest quiz answer of the decade occurs on University Challenge: “Timothy Dalton, Orson Welles and Michael Fassbender are among the actors who have played which romantic figure, created by Charlotte Bronte?

“Inspector Clouseau?” comes the genuine guess.

Garth Brooks cancels five concerts at Croke Park. Picture: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland
Garth Brooks cancels five concerts at Croke Park. Picture: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

2014

Water charges are at the forefront of political discourse. Meters begin to be installed but 4% of the population attend a demonstration against their introduction in Dublin.

Just when you think the insane joy of a lobbed water balloon might be curtailed forever, the ice bucket challenge shows us that water can still be fun, while also raising funds for motor neurone disease.

Plenty of ice buckets are needed to ensure the Winter Olympics run off smoothly in the warmest part of Russia. The price tag is over $51billion but Vladimir Putin attempts to claw back some of this by annexing Crimea.

Cork gets rental bikes, although rental boats might be a better idea as the River Lee breaks its banks and floods the city twice in three days.

‘Mansplaining’ enters the Oxford dictionary. The word is the male equivalent of landscaping, which is what women call tending to their downstairs hair.

Scotland vote aye to remain in the UK in a referendum, if only by a wee bit.

Luis Suarez, with front teeth that could eat an apple through a tennis racquet, bites Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini at the World Cup. Hosts Brazil are knocked out by eventual champions Germany, humiliated 7-1 as legend and Viagra spokesman Pele watches on during a very disappointing semi.

Five Garth Brooks concerts at Croke Park are cancelled after objections from residents. To get things done in Ireland you need friends in high places.

Ian Paisley and Robin Williams, probably great friends if they ever met, both die this year

Leo Varadkar confirmed he is gay. (Photo credit should read PAUL FAITH/AFP via Getty Images)
Leo Varadkar confirmed he is gay. (Photo credit should read PAUL FAITH/AFP via Getty Images)

2015

This is the year we were supposed to have hoverboards and self-tying sneakers. Instead, we get Eircodes.

David Cameron is accused of inappropriate relations with a pig during his college days.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar confirms he is gay, and later in the year Ireland vote that he should be allowed to get married.

Storms begin to get names, with Abigail (better known as Gale) the first. Mother nature assails us in other ways too, with gulls attacking people from above and Japanese knotweed reaching for our ankles from below.

Evidence surfaces to suggest WB Yeats’ remains are not buried in a churchyard in Sligo. While an exhumation remains unlikely, if they do ever dig up the bones there, I hope they don’t get the surprise I did during my Leaving Cert, when I was expecting Yeats to come up and Kavanagh did instead.

During a performance at the Brit Awards, Madonna suffers a wardrobe malfunction and gets dragged off the stage when a cloak she is wearing gets snagged. A Cork man points out that it is the fabric’s fault, saying: “It’s the material, girl.”

Harper Lee’s unpublished follow-up to To Kill A Mockingbird titled Go Set A Watchman is finally published. A film release called 2 Kill 2 Mockingbird is in the pipeline.

NASA reveal there is flowing water on Mars, but scientists immediately put it on a boil notice.

Astronomers also discover Einstein waves. Probe further and they will also see he sometimes stuck his tongue out.

Foreshadowing Breakfast... I mean Brexit, anti-gentrification activists in London’s East End attack a cafe which only serves cereal that costs up to £3.50 per bowl. The protesters sing: ‘We’d rather have a row of local shops’.

Terry Wogan died in 2016.
Terry Wogan died in 2016.

2016

If you are a beloved entertainer, this is a bad year. Carrie Fisher, Robert Vaughan, Terry Wogan, Glen Frey, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Victoria Wood, Caroline Aherne, Andrew Sachs, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Frank Kelly and Paul Daniels all die, while Keith Richards survives.

David Bowie is one of the first to depart in January, but this at least gives us the funniest moment in TV history on Celebrity Big Brother, when his ex-wife Angie tells singer Tiffany that “David’s dead” and the pop star goes into hysterics, thinking she is referring to fellow housemate David Gest, who is alive and doesn’t actually die until April.

It’s goodnight from Ronnie Corbett too, which means we have no Ronnies left. At his funeral, a haunting version of Four Candles in the Wind is performed.

Even though everyone thinks he is dead because he hasn’t appeared in a film for 15 years, could an American actor be manipulating his DNA through technology to live longer? Gene Hackman?

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Tainiste Joan Burton and Theo Cullinane BAM at the officall turning of the sods for the new Event Centre. Picture: Des Barry
Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Tainiste Joan Burton and Theo Cullinane BAM at the officall turning of the sods for the new Event Centre. Picture: Des Barry

Enda Kenny turns the sod on Cork’s Non-Event Centre weeks before a general election, meaning visitors on direct flights from New York will soon be able to attend shows there.

The election leads to a minority government, with Fine Gael reaching a Confidence and Supply agreement to govern with support from the main opposition. A possibility of a rotating Taoiseach is mooted but refused by Fianna Fail as Dev would be turning in his grave.

Bob Dylan is a surprise winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature and he explains why a songwriter received the award during a mumbled speech that no-one can understand.

The Great British Break-Off takes place as UK voters narrowly decide to leave the EU.

Brexiteers claim it is not about recapturing the glories of yesteryear,. but rather throwing off the shackles of EU so it can look to a brighter future trading with its colonies and Cathay.

A survey reveals that 56% of Americans believe teaching Arabic numerals should not be allowed in schools, so it should not come as a surprise that Donald Trump wins the US presidential election.

President Donald Trump takes the oath of office as his wife Melania Trump holds the bible and his son Barron Trump looks on. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump takes the oath of office as his wife Melania Trump holds the bible and his son Barron Trump looks on. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

2017

At Trump’s inauguration, far more people turn up than are in attendance, according to his press officer Sean Spicer.

Trump reiterates his call for a wall to be built between Mexico and the U.S, while counter-intuitively giving a vivid example of the dangers of such a wall by warning someone could be killed by a 60lbs bag of heroin being dropped from the top of the imaginary structure.

Ex-hurricane Ophelia rolls in across the Atlantic and batters Cork and Kerry, blowing the county bounds all over the place.

Apple are ordered to pay the exchequer €14 billion in back taxes, but the government looks the other way and begins whistling.

A BBC correspondent in Korea has his moment on camera invaded by both his children being chased by their au pair. Somehow this doesn’t win Best Picture at the Oscars either.

A repairman gets stuck inside an ATM in Texas. If the machine had been located in the Irish midlands or north, he wouldn’t have had to wait long for someone to come along and help him out with a JCB.

In a Brexit prologue, there are skirmishes between British and French fishermen in the Channel over scallops, and that might just be for starters.

Angela Merkel enters the argument over food trade by announcing that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, sales of sausage and cheese to the UK would immediately cease. But that’s a wurst-kase scenario.

It emerges Dublin Zoo has been defrauded out of almost €500,000 after it fell victim to a scam known as “invoice redirect fraud”. Gardaí believe there may be a mole in the zoo and investigate the handling of some suspiciously large bills in the pelican sanctuary.

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner’s funeral is shown live on TV, but you only get to watch the first 10 minutes for free.

Leo Varadkar becomes Taoiseach, the first leader of the country to be openly hostile to people on social welfare.

Fidget spinners and the Floss and an impending sense of doom are the year’s big crazes.

The Echo has its 125th anniversary. The 250th bash is planned to be held in the recently opened Event Centre.

Theresa May comes to a deal with the DUP to get their support to form a government at Westminster. In return the DUP gets same-sex marriage legalised and abortion decriminalised in the North, a border about to be introduced in the Irish Sea and a United Ireland being seriously discussed.

Ben Bulben turns into a giant Viennetta after snow in 2018.
Ben Bulben turns into a giant Viennetta after snow in 2018.

2018

Two dragons run for president, but Michael D slays them both.

In March we get the Beast from the East. Ben Bulben looks like a Vienetta. Bread flies off supermarket shelves before the snowstorm hits. Bread always knows first when bad weather is coming.

A Cork version of the Luas is proposed, with 25 stops, including ones at the Event Centre building site and the new airport terminal for transatlantic flights.

Greta Thunberg begins her school strikes, calling for immediate action to tackle climate crisis. In Copenhagen, the leaders of the world gather to discuss the problem and eventually, after days of talks, finally come to an agreement to meet again at some stage in the future. The Amazon goes on fire, which is a disaster for logging companies hoping to cut it down.

In flake news, an ice cream van crashes through the front door of a church in Tralee. Following the sundae service, one parishioner said: “I screamed, you screamed, we all screamed.” The damage could run into hundreds of thousands.

A biopic of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury is released. I download a pirated version that looks like it was illicitly filmed in a cinema because at one point I see a little silhouette of a man.

Footage goes viral of 83-year-old Denis O’Connor fighting off three masked men who raided the bookies in Glanmire.

RIP comedian Ken Dodd, who was famously dogged by the taxman. He once told the Inland Revenue he didn’t owe them a penny because he live by the seaside. At his tax trial this exchange took place:

Dodd: I had some trouble with the tax... my accountant died.

Prosecutor: Did that really matter?

Dodd: Well it mattered to him.

 A firefighter tackles the blaze as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
 A firefighter tackles the blaze as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

2019

Maria Bailey is deselected as a Fine Gael election candidate for any upcoming election after Swinggate, but might choose to run as an independent or as the Injured Party.

Joe Schmidt has a rethink on his rugby World Cup squad selection when he goes to the printer to get a few copies of it and sees ‘Replace Toner’. Things don’t go well in Japan of the Team of Us, but I blame them.

“There won’t be a rent raised in Dublin tonight!” The Dubs do the five-in-a-row.

To sum up 2019, which you really should remember: we had the Rooney-Vardy spat and a sliced pan with a rat; rural broadband, buttons pushed in the Dáil and an expensive printer, white-collar rafting, the Echo dropping its Evening, impeachment, Notre Dame in flames, Boris, two-hour marathons, the late Late, Late great Gay Byrne, Prince Andrew not sweating and the possible sale of Greenland.

At the end of 2009, the U.S national debt was $12 trillion and today it is $23 trillion so it might be time to start learning Chinese.

At the end of the decade, you are more likely to have a tattoo than not, if you are a man you probably have a beard, and cosmetic surgery is so common now that if you mention Botox nobody raises an eyebrow.

We’ll leave the final word with Trump, who single-handedly made it extremely difficult to write anything ridiculous, without people thinking it might be real: “I never understood wind, I know windmills very much, I’ve studied them more than anybody… tremendous fumes, gases are spewing into the atmosphere. You know we have a world, the world is tiny compared to the universe.”

Amen to that.

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