Here are my top ten stories for 2011. It was quite a year, both good and bad, with many indelible memories.
1. Queen’s visit to Ireland:
It was an incredible occasion which ended centuries of mutual loathing and dislike. The Queen’s words of Gaelic at the Dublin Castle State Dinner were my personal highlight. It was an amazing occasion for the Irish and British people and a tribute to the effect of the peace process.
2. President Obama’s visit to Ireland:
It had to be a stellar event to overtake the visit of an American president to Ireland but the Queen’s visit did that.
Obama was also deeply impressive, loose and relaxed in Moneygall with his ancestral relatives and flowing and on his game during his remarks outside Trinity College.
3. Irish presidential election:
It was the election that had everything from a last second October surprise that utterly upended the expected result, to allegations of attempted murder, incest, boy pedophilia, IRA involvement. The final TV debate where Martin McGuinness finished Sean Gallagher’s campaign was an extraordinary live moment.
4. Fianna Fail collapse in Irish general election vote:
Blamed for the Irish recession. they went from the longest party in government in Europe to being practically wiped out. Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael party cruised to victory and Irish politics will never be the same again.
5. Enda Kenny speech on child abuse:
Seeing an Irish leader stand up and take on the dreadful wrongdoing in the Catholic Church on child sex abuse was a remarkable moment for the country and the world.
6. Bill Clinton speech at Irish America Magazine Hall of Fame awards:
A remarkable speech on the origins of his interests in Ireland and where he felt Irish America and Ireland needed to go next from the most important Irish American political figure ever.
7. Second Irish Diaspora conference in Ireland:
A gathering of the far flung tribe featuring 300 business leaders from all over the world discussing the way forward for Ireland. At last the Irish government seems to get the power and potential of the Diaspora
8. The winter from hell:
US East Coast and Ireland suffered bitter winters, the worst in Ireland for over sixty years while the Christmas to New Year storm in New York was the worst on record
9. Green Card moves by China, India, Mexico and Filipinos:
Once upon a time there was an agreement that it was comprehensive immigration reform or nothing. The Irish were especially criticized for even suggesting anything else. Then a group of countries broke away and are currently trying to get their own deal. Lesson learned I hope.
10. Lennox the condemned dog:
I know it’s a weird one but on out website out readers could not get enough of the pit-bull called Lennox condemned to death in Belfast for being a pit bull.