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Image / Living / Culture

10 extremely Irish pop-culture moments that defined us this year


By Sarah Finnan
19th Dec 2022

@sourcebridgers

10 extremely Irish pop-culture moments that defined us this year

Hard to believe another year is almost at a close. We’re still processing 2020 and somehow it will be 2023 in just under two weeks' time? The mind boggles.

Safe to say, 2022 was one hell of a year. We managed to pack quite a bit into the past 12 months and there were many a cursed pop-culture moment along the way too. You may have forgotten these things happened, but I haven’t… in fact, they’ll probably be ingrained in my memory for the rest of time. So, join me on my journey down memory lane as I recount some of the most Irish things to have happened this year. 

Tinder Swindler vs notions

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; no Irish woman would have been swindled by the Tinder Swindler. Why? Our innate aversion to notions. Such flamboyant displays of wealth give Irish people the ick… even one single photo of a man on a private jet or dressed head-to-toe in designer gear would be enough to send me running in the other direction. I can’t really explain it, but such is the nature of the ick.

Bono’s Paddy’s Day poem

With so much going on, this one kind of slipped under the radar, but as I mentioned before, it’s moments like these that will live in my subconscious for all eternity. So, for those of you who (intentionally) forgot about this or somehow managed to avoid it first time around, below is a refresher of Bono’s Paddy’s Day poem – as read at the White House by Nancy Pelosi.

Harry Styles sea swimming at the Vico 

Many things made headlines in 2022, but Harry Styles discourse topped them all. Whether we were discussing his new beauty line, Pleasing, debating spit gate or dissecting his favourite thing about Don’t Worry Darling (that it’s a real “go to the theatre film movie” lest you forget) the former One Direction star is pretty much all we could talk, think or write about this year. And when photos of him going for a dip at the Vico emerged? Well, we near lost our minds. Did Matt Damon tell him about Dublin’s finest sea swimming spots or did he happen across the local favourite himself? What about his trip to Sole? Who recommended it to him, what did he order, did he tip well? So. Many. Questions. 

Bad Sisters’ tour de Dublin

All hail Sharon Horgan. Already blessing us with shows such as Motherland, Catastrophe and This Way Up (the latter of which she starred in and executive produced), Horgan brought us yet more TV gold this year in the form of Bad Sisters – a black comedy, thriller and murder mystery all in one. Set and shot in Ireland, the series introduced global audiences to Dublin’s leafy suburbs and local hotspots – including, but not limited to, Malahide, the Forty Foot and Johnnie Fox’s pub. Also starring Anne-Marie Duff, Eva Birthistle, Sarah Greene, and Eve Hewson (Bono’s daughter don’t ya know?!), it’s since been confirmed that the series will return for a second season so there’s still plenty more to look forward to. 

The New York Times claiming the sisters are English? Disappointed but not surprised… does it ever end?

Leslie Mann supping pints of G 

Earlier this summer, Maude Apatow (of Euphoria fame) was spotted gallivanting around Ireland, her famous family in tow. In Éire with her sister, Iris, and parents (Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann), the foursome tried to keep a low profile while here but some online sleuthing tells me that highlights of their trip include frolicking around sheep-filled fields, getting acquainted with some friendly horses and supping pints of G. You love to see it. 

Maude’s co-star Angus Cloud (who is actually partly Irish!) was also here around the same time, but whether that was anything more than coincidental timing or not, remains to be seen. 

Michael Flatley’s espionage movie

Yes, I was hesitant about going to see Blackbird, Michael Flatley’s directorial debut and his first foray into acting, but I was still open to the possibility that it could be good. The trailer wasn’t necessarily bad and after five years of hype, I was intrigued. Written, directed by, and starring Michael Flatley, Blackbird is what you would get if you were to cross Downton Abbey with James Bond… or some variation of it anyway. Admittedly, I expected the movie to venture into so-bad-it’s-good territory, but it never quite made it there for me – despite questionable costume choices (Flatley dons a variety of hats throughout, each one worn at a rakish angle as though placed there mid-dance) and one-liners such as “forgive me, father, for I have sinned, and I’m about to sin again”. Read my full review here

Garth mania

Seven years after the infamous Croke Park fiasco, Garth Brooks finally descended upon Ireland for his long-promised “five or nothing” sold-out stadium shows. Endeavouring to fill the GAA headquarters (which holds 82,000 seated spectators) five times over, it was a highly ambitious undertaking, but Garth’s faith in the Irish public was clearly well-founded and Brooks mania spread like wildfire throughout the country. Fans practically fell over themselves to secure a seat at one of his highly-anticipated shows and the capital was awash with cowboy hats and heeled riding boots for days on end. Between Bennifer rekindling their romance, Ugg boots’ recent renaissance and this, it really feels like we’re moving back in time. 

Taylor Swift namechecking Wicklow

Will we ever recover from Taylor Swift namechecking Wicklow on her recent album? Probably not. It only took her ten albums, but she finally got an Irish mention in there and we’ll be capitalising on this one for years to come. Before the clock had even struck midnight (EST) over in the US — 5am Irish time — Taylor Swift’s new album Midnights had already broken the record for most-streamed album in a single day in Spotify history. Messi may be the undisputed football GOAT but Taylor is certainly in the running for the musical crown. Offering fans an insight into her relationship with British actor Joe Alwyn, the line can be heard on “Sweet Nothing” – a track that is co-written by William Bowery, Joe Alwyn’s pseudonym — and describes a trip the due took to a Wicklow beach last year (presumably while he was here filming the TV adaptation of Sally Rooney’s Conversations With Friends)

Florence Pugh’s Irish visit

One of the stars of Netflix’s recent thriller, The Wonder, Florence Pugh was joined by director Sebastián Lelio, author Emma O’Donoghue and castmates Niamh Algar, Kíla Lord Cassidy and Elaine Cassidy for the movie’s Irish premiere at The Lighthouse cinema in Smithfield. A  tragic yet compelling story set 13 years after the Great Famine, the movie was inspired by the true stories of the 19-th century ‘fasting girls’ phenomenon and tells the tale of a young girl who claims to have gone months without eating – subsisting solely on manna from heaven. Filmed in Ireland, Pugh spent several weeks here while working on the project… ensuring she got acquainted with local delicacies (namely Tayto and Guinness) whilst here. Interviewing Florence Pugh definitely wasn’t on my 2022 bingo card.

Phoebe Bridgers’ “rom-com” Christmas… in Maynooth

Phoebe Bridgers saying that her best Christmas ever was spent in Maynooth was certainly a 2022 wildcard. “Last year, I stayed with my boyfriend’s [Paul Mescal] family in Ireland. It was a full rom-com,” the singer told Vogue in a recent interview. So impressed was she that it’s rumoured the couple have bought a house together in West Cork (drop the AD house tour already!!!). 

Speaking of Maynooth and everyone’s favourite Normal Person, I couldn’t possibly finish this list without mention of Paul’s leather moment. Proving that his fashion evolution has been anything but predictable, Mescal graced the pages of Interview Magazine donning a leather trenchcoat and matching thigh highs – an editorial that garnered many a hot take… most of them positive, all of them thirsty.

These were my top moments of 2022, what were yours?

Header image via @sourcebridgers