From marriage equality to Cadbury’s chocolate; from offensive Irish-themed t-shirts to education on Ireland’s Great Hunger, the most popular stories that appeared on IrishCentral in 2015 center on a diverse range of topics, of interest to both the Irish community in the U.S. and the larger Irish diaspora.
Which of the top stories of 2015 did you enjoy the most? Let us know in the comment section, below. If you need a refresher, just click through to the full stories via their titles.
Journalist Sean O’Driscoll recounts how the Irish language protected him as he reported on human rights abuses in the United Arab Emirates.
“I thought, as I composed one text in a labor camp outside Dubai, that my friend Martin’s question all of those years ago had been answered – even if you think the Irish language is dead, it is still bloody useful.
"Irish, not even understood by much of the Irish population, is the Enigma Code of European languages, and good luck to any international police force trying to decipher it. I’m told my many friends, who never speak Irish normally, have used Irish in American police stations, in front of IRS officials, speaking to friends in a nightclub, speaking about a third party in a coffee shop or to quickly get telemarketers off the phone.”
In the lead-up to Ireland’s landmark marriage equality referendum, Dublin priest Fr. Martin Dolan called upon his Dublin city congregation, where he has worked for 15 years, to vote in favor of same sex marriage by sharing a massive revelation: “I’m gay myself,” he said. Fr. Dolan’s brave act was widely embraced by his parishioners.
In this highly popular opinion piece, Bill Bigelow of the Zinn Education Project railed against the way in which the typical European history curriculum in the US glosses over, misrepresents or altogether ignores the events of Ireland’s Great Hunger and the huge impact it had on Irish immigration to the U.S.
“Wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or get pinched.” That pretty much sums up the Irish-American“curriculum” that I learned when I was in school. Yes, I recall a nod to the so-called Potato Famine, but it was mentioned only in passing.
With a starring role in the turn of the century New York medical drama "The Knick," 24-year-old star Eve Hewson is fast gathering a solid fan base in her own right, but not all of them know that he father is none other than U2 front-man Bono.
One of the best quotes from the interview? “It freaks me out. I'm going to have to start behaving in public,” she told GQ. “I think I have a ‘blur face.’ I assume no one will recognize or remember me.”
Irishman Dr. Patrick Treacy was a friend and close confidant of music legend Michael Jackson for the last three years of his life. The two met in 2006, in Dublin, after Treacy, who already had quite a few famous friends, appeared on RTE’s Ryan Tubridy show, and received a request for an meeting with an unnamed celebrity.
In his new book, “Behind the Mask,” Dr. Treacy tells his personal and professional story, but he also devotes two chapters to his friendship with Jackson – revealing a different side to the late superstar and enumerating the ways in which he impacted his life. Treacy had many fascinating stories for Cahir O’Doherty, who interviewed him about the book when it was released this past summer.
The follow-up piece to IrishCentral’s third-most read story of 2015 (see below), in which we followed Irish American man Kevin Westley as he attempted to return $400 worth of St. Patrick’s Day t-shirts stereotyping the Irish as drunks to his local Walmart.
“’If we get locked up, if we’re not back in three hours, send the lawyers for us, OK hon?’ Kevin Westley asked his wife, Joanie, in the doorway of their East Meadow, Long Island home.
“’You’re on your own!’ was the reply from Joanie, who for the second year in a row has lovingly if somewhat bemusedly stood by Kevin in his campaign to get his local Walmart stores to stop carrying t-shirts that stereotype the Irish as drunks.”
In an amazing show of sporting prowess and plucky determination, an Irish tourist was allegedly forced to take a break from enjoying his vacation to defend himself from a group of angry Turkish shopkeepers.
The video of the brawl in the Istanbul neighborhood of Aksaray – which apparently started after the Irishman accidentally knocked over many bottles of water in a shop - quickly went viral, with the man becoming an unlikely hero among the country’s progressive left.
Irish American Kevin Westley, a radio presenter, lecturer and Irish dance instructor, spoke with IrishCentral about his inventive plan to combat the offensive t-shirts that pop up in stores every year in the lead-up to St. Patrick’s day, equating Irishness with drunkenness.
“Go to your local big box stores, buy all the t-shirts emblazoned with drunken stereotypes you can find, keep them in your garage or car trunk so they never see the light of day, and return them promptly on March 18.
“’Put them on your credit card and you never spend a dime,’ Westley said. (Provided the store's return policy offers a full refund, of course.)”
At the time, he had successfully carried out the plan the year before, and was planning for St. Patrick’s Day 2015.
2015 kicked off with news that left a bad taste in the mouths of the Irish and British expat communities in the US: British-made Cadbury’s chocolate would no longer be eligible for import into America, following a settlement with the Hershey’s Chocolate Company by Let’s Buy British Imports, (LBB), the leading importer of foods from Britain to America. LBB agreed to stop importing all Cadbury’s chocolate made overseas as Hershey’s owns the production rights stateside.
Many very outspoken critics bemoaned the notable disparity in the tastes between the British-made originals and the US-produced version (one IrishCentral writer noted a “gasoline” taste). Luckily, as we learned in October, many import stores are still finding a way to bring in the real-deal chocolate.
Anglo-Irish writer Oscar Wilde is famous for his insightfully searing prose, his bon mots, his dandy style, and the tragic way in which is life ended. A lesser-known story is that of his wife’s sad demise, the real story of which remained a mystery until earlier this year.
For 116 years, the cause of Constance Wilde’s death – at the young age of 40 in 1898, the same year Oscar died – remained uncertain. Speculation over the cause of her sudden death has ranged from spinal damage after falling down stairs to syphilis contracted from her husband. But medical evidence recently discovered in family letters by Merlin Holland, Wilde’s grandson, indicated that Constance likely had multiple sclerosis. He co-authored a paper on the medical evidence for this conclusion, which was published in leading medical journal The Lancet.
To take a look back at the top stories of 2014, click here.