Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Dublin: 12°C Monday 8 August 2022

Protests, Storm Barra and Biden's inauguration: The most read articles on The Journal this year

Thanks for reading.

EVERY YEAR AT this time, the list of the top 10 most-read stories on The Journal shines a light on the articles and issues that really struck a chord with people.

This year is no different and although Covid-19, misinformation and vaccines certainly dominated the headlines throughout the year, you might be surprised at one or two of the entries on the 2021 list.

Interestingly, there’s no sign of Katherine Zappone’s ‘Merrion Gate’ debacle, the row over the Northern Ireland Protocol, or that Eurovision controversy in the top 10.

But there are plenty of highlights. Let’s take a look.

1.  23 people arrested after clashes between anti-lockdown protesters and gardaí in Dublin city centre

  • Views: 385,935

Shortly before the Government announced details of its plans to begin lifting Level Covid-19 restrictions from mid-April, Dublin’s Grafton Street was the site of angry clashes between gardaí and anti-mask, anti-lockdown protestors in late February.

Some 23 people were arrested following the incident during which gardaí were targeted with fireworks, missiles and spit. In conjunction with Noteworthy, The Journal later probed the intersection between the protest’s organisers, Covid conspiracy theory groups online and the far-right.

2. Debunked: Several claims about Covid-19 in a video featuring Dolores Cahill are false or misleading

  • Views: 358,498

Continuing on from 2020, one of the big themes of the year was the spread of Covid-19 misinformation through social media.

The Journal has fact-checked and debunked numerous outlandish claims about the nature of the virus, vaccines and the Government’s response to the crisis.

One such piece that really struck a chord with readers this year centred on a number of false and misleading claims made by former UCD professor Dolores Cahill, who emerged as a leading figure in Ireland’s small but vocal anti-vaccination, anti-mask and lockdown movement throughout 2020 and into 2021.

3. RTÉ criticised for inauguration coverage after commentator called Joe Biden a ‘criminal’

  • Views: 313,077

US President Donald Trump’s presidency ended this year much as it had started — in a cloud of controversy and recrimination.

But a fortnight after the 6 January riots by Trump supporters in Washington DC, our own national broader found itself embroiled in a red, white and blue-tinged controversy of its own thanks to an appearance by Republican Party member James Conner on RTÉ’s live coverage of incoming US President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Conner wrongly accused Biden of being “bona fide criminal, complicit in the violation of multiple directives”. Many viewers — including Irish politicians — were left wondering how Conner had been invited back by the broadcaster having, weeks before, tried to blame the 6 January riots on anti-fascist protestors.

4. Third body found following Garda search connected to deaths of two brothers in Mitchelstown

  • Views: 275,997

In February, details of a tragic murder-suicide involving three brothers in Mitchelstown, Co Cork first hit the headlines.

An investigation led detectives to believe that Johnny Hennessy killed his brothers Paddy and Willie at the family farmhouse in Curraghgorm near Mitchelstown, Co Cork, in February, before taking his own life.

A verdict of unlawful killing and suicide was later delivered by a coroner’s inquest in November.

5. Two people arrested after missing two-year-old girl found safe and well in Dublin

  • Views: 269,724 Views

In October, gardaí confirmed that a two-year-old child who was the subject of a Child Rescue Ireland (CRI) Alert had been found safe and well.

The girl was taken from a health centre in Co Mayo.

After a search operation, a man and a woman aged in their 30s were arrested for an offence contrary to Section 15 Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.

6. Taoiseach: Nightclubs to close next Tuesday, 50% capacity cap for indoor events and strict rules for hospitality

  • Views: 268,624

Another tough year for Ireland’s beleaguered hospitality and live entertainment sectors was capped off in early December when the Government reintroduced a number of restrictions in response to the latest wave of the virus.

Having only been back in business for about a month, nightclubs were once again forced to shutter while 50% capacity limits were reintroduced for all indoor events.

Ireland’s winter Covid surge has continued to dominate the agenda and more restrictions were announced on 15 December.

7. Coronavirus: Four deaths and a record high of 3,394 new cases confirmed

  • Views: 265,545

It seems hard to believe given the number of cases being reported on a daily basis since the arrival of the Omicron variant but the 3,394 cases of Covid-19 announced on 2 January was a record high at the time.

It came three days after the Government had announced its decision to move the country back to full Level 5 restrictions following a surge in infections over the Christmas period.

Strict lockdown measures — including a ban on inter-county travel — would remain in place for five months before being gradually lifted over the summer.

8. Missing child Svetlana Murphy found safe and well, as 18-year-old male arrested following CRI alert

  • Views: 263,196 Views

Making a difference

A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article.

Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can make sure we can keep reliable, meaningful news open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay.

In late April, a joint Garda and PSNI search operation was called to a halt when 14-year-old Svetlana Murphy was found safe and well after being reported missing from her home in Blackrock, Co Louth.

Having been spotted in the company of an 18-year-old man in Newry, Co Down, the PSNI was called in to assist gardaí with their inquiries.

A Child Rescue Ireland alert was issued in the early hours of the morning of 22 April, appealing for the public’s help in locating Murphy. She was later found in Belfast and an 18-year-old male was arrested.

9. Storm Barra: Schools in Dublin and 11 other counties advised to remain closed

  • Views: 258,980

Weather-wise, it’s been a pretty mild winter so far compared to other years — apart from one notable exception: Storm Barra, which slammed into Ireland’s Atlantic Coast in early December.

Schools in Dublin, Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Leitrim, Limerick, Mayo, Sligo, Waterford and Wexford were all closed as the tempest made landfall.

Up to 8,000 homes lost power at the height of the storm, which brought heavy wind and gusts in excess of 140km/h to many coastal counties.

10. Level 5 restrictions to remain in place until 5 March as ministers agree on mandatory quarantine measures

  • Views: 258,363 Views

Ireland’s carousel of Covid restrictions has continued to spin throughout the year but it was the first five months of 2021 that brought, arguably, the most uncertainty.

Having lifted tight restrictions in November 2020, Ireland returned to lockdown from late December for what many thought would be a month or six weeks.

But on 25 January — against a backdrop of increasing concern about the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19 — the Government moved to extend the restrictions and implement mandatory hotel quarantine for those travelling into the country without a negative PCR test, as well as passengers from “high risk areas” such as South Africa and Brazil. 

And just for the craic, here’s the other 10 stories that make up the top 20:

Just to refresh your memory (and make you feel old): What were the top stories on The Journal five years ago?

About the author:

Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel