Saoirse to be 007, Micheál to be Cork Taoiseach — and Trump to excel in Year of Rat... my almanac for 2020

In his weekly column John Dolan gives us his monthly take on events for the coming year
Saoirse to be 007, Micheál to be Cork Taoiseach — and Trump to excel in Year of Rat... my almanac for 2020
Saoirse Ronan. Picture: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images


In the least surprising development of the year, Donald Trump survives the impeachment trial as the Senate’s majority Republicans rally round their man.

A few days later, the Chinese usher in the Year of the Rat. Irony dies. Twitter explodes.

On the last day of the month, the UK leaves the European Union... and the world doesn’t end.

A transition period now allows for talks to take place on trade deals and other divorce arrangements (see also December).

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Trade Commissioner ‘Big’ Phil Hogan square up like a couple of sumo wrestlers for a year of barbs and insults.

Joaquin Phoenix. Picture: Matt Crossick/PA Photos.
Joaquin Phoenix. Picture: Matt Crossick/PA Photos.


Amidst a raft of headlines about soaring homeless numbers and soaring numbers of people on trolleys in hospitals, Fianna Fáil decides it is time to collapse the government.

Normally, a Taoiseach would opt to wait until after a St Patrick’s Day visit to the White House for added kudos, but a photograph with Donald Trump is hardly on a par with Barack Obama! So, Leo Varadkar calls the election for March 10 — when he has been exactly 1,000 days in power.

At the Oscars, Joaquin Phoenix, who lost 52lb to play the role of Joker, wins Best Actor and also Slimmer of the Year.

Renee Zellweger, an ex-Slimmer of the Year for her Bridget Jones roles, wins Best Actress for her role in Judy.

Remarkably, Martin Scorsese, nominated for a ninth Best Director gong for The Irishman, loses out for an eighth time. He is dubbed ‘the Mayo of the directing world’.


The St Patrick’s Day festivities are nicely set up after Ireland’s new coach Andy Farrell secures an unlikely Grand Slam on the 14th in Paris.

However, things take a turn for the worse when President Michael D. Higgins is despatched to Washington to meet President Trump while the politicians back home are caught up in the election result (see April).

Higgins’ speech about “respecting other cultures, opening our arms to immigration and the dangers of gun culture” goes down like a lead balloon.

Trump tweets: “The little old guy messed up, he meant to refer to ‘respecting and opening our arms to gun culture and the dangers of immigration!’”

Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin. Picture: Leah Farrell/
Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin. Picture: Leah Farrell/


The election result is close and inconclusive, and talks between the parties are delayed by the lack of a working printer in the Dáil.

However, just ahead of Easter, Micheal Martin becomes the second Cork Taoiseach, entering a shaky rainbow coalition with the Greens, Labour, one half of the Healy Raes, a few minor Independents and a major irritant (Shane Ross).

A defeated Varadkar announces he is quitting politics for a lucrative job in the European Union, after receiving plaudits there as the man who Got Brexit Done. However, he will remain as a double-jobbing TD for the next four years because... well, the money is pure daycint.

Simon Coveney is swiftly elected the new Fine Gael leader, meaning the entire power base of Dail Éireann is concentrated in Cork South Central.


The leaders of the two main parties engage in a bout of political arm-wrestling in their own backyard. Mysteriously, work begins immediately on the new Event Centre, and a second new Event Centre is then announced down the road!

The Healy-Rae not in government accuses the two party leaders of ‘feathering their own nests and putting their own constituency before the good of the country’. The country declares that irony is dead and gone, it’s with O’Leary in the grave.


Having qualified through the play-offs, Ireland kick off their Euro 2020 soccer campaign with victories against Poland and Sweden in Dublin. John Delaney doesn’t stand the drinks for fans in a pub afterwards.

The FAI can only pray Mick McCarthy’s men go deep into the competition to allay their debts.

Sure enough, the Irish head to Copenhagen for a round of 16 knock-out match against old foes England and win on penalties. Ireland are Euros remainers, England are Leavers... irony is resurrected from the grave.

Sadly, the eventual winners Germany stop Ireland’s march in the quarters.

Saoirse Ronan attends the world premiere of "Little Women" at Museum of Modern Art on December 07, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage,)
Saoirse Ronan attends the world premiere of "Little Women" at Museum of Modern Art on December 07, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage,)


The actor to play the next James Bond is announced and it’s... drum roll... Saoirse Ronan.

However, she has to change her name to Shirley Ronan in order for UK and American audiences to pronounce it right.

Love Island is yet again a huge hit, and the Irish run of success continues, as Fionnuala from Carrigaline and Finbarr from Douglas win the contest.

Party leaders Micheál Martin and Simon Coveney jostle to be pictured with the returning heroes, but are photo-bombed by Shane Ross, in his new portfolio, Minister for Reality TV.


The Olympics in Tokyo are marred by constant rows about gender, after a bearded 24-stone Scot called Hamish wins the women’s Javelin gold.

However, joy is unconfined in Ireland when our women’s hockey team win gold.


The sporting treats continue. Cork pull off an unlikely double of the All-Ireland hurling and football championships.

The hurlers defeat Galway in the final, just like in 1990, but pundits looking for ‘double’ omens advise caution, pointing to the fact that Liverpool last won the English soccer league in 1990 too, but they somehow threw away this year’s title in the last two months of the season, after the controversial VAR system was scrapped.

In the football final, Cork thwart Dublin’s Search for Six by rallying around their own team slogan: The Power of One.

One of the factors driving on the Rebels is the Dublin media alluding to a ‘unique’ six successive All-Irelands for their players — when every Corkonian knows Jack Lynch did just that between 1941 and 1946.

Taoiseach Minister Leo Varadkar. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Taoiseach Minister Leo Varadkar. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)


In an attempt to make his mark on Brussels, former Taoiseach Varadkar forces through a new law to stop the clocks changing.

On October 25, when Brits put their clocks back, Ireland remains on Brussels time. TV soap and soccer fans here complain about the resulting chaos, but Leo insists the EU is there for “people who get up early in the morning... and indeed who go to bed early”.


Donald Trump, 74, is re-elected President after defeating Democrat candidate Joe Biden, almost 78, who never recovers from the live TV debate when Trump referrs to him as an ‘old timer’.

Political correspondents clamour to resurrect that hackneyed phrase ‘It’s the economy, stupid’.


On the last day of the year, the UK officially leaves the EU... and the world keeps turning into 2021. Fancy that!

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