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Image / Living / Culture

Reeling in the year: The 10 viral lockdown-defining moments that restored our faith in humanity


By Sarah Finnan
13th May 2021
Reeling in the year: The 10 viral lockdown-defining moments that restored our faith in humanity

A deep dive into the viral moments that helped to not only make the past year (and a bit) somewhat bearable, but also kept our faith in humanity alive.

As we face into the beginning of the end of the pandemic, we take a look back at the best viral moments from the past year. The moments that saw humanity come together and helped us remember that everything would be ok in the end. 

From the Jerusalema dance challenge to quarantined Italians uniting in singsong from their balconies, 2020 (and 2021 too) was a year of firsts and though there’s much of it we’d like to forget, there’s also plenty we want to remember. 

Balcony singing – March 2020

The first European country to implement a strict national lockdown, all eyes were on Italy in March of last year. Facing a situation that was far worse than initially perceived, the threat of the unknown hung above us all but our Italian amici showed us the true tenacity of the human spirit. Uniting in singsong from their own private balconies each evening, the clips are amongst some of our most abiding memories of last year. 

Clapping for frontline staff – March 2020 

A phrase we rarely used in our pre-pandemic lives, the onset of a global health crisis quickly showed us just how valuable our frontline staff truly are. That’s not to say that we ever doubted it before, but seeing them put their own lives on the line, shift after shift, day after day, was nothing short of awe-inspiring. Clapping can hardly convey the thanks they deserve, but it’s a start.

Feed the heroes fundraiser – March 2020

A fundraiser that came about as a way for people all across the country to show our healthcare heroes just how appreciated their trojan efforts are, Feed the Heroes saw over 200,000 meals delivered to hospitals around Ireland. Partnering with various local restaurants, takeaways, caterers and commercial kitchens, close to €1.5 million was also raised for the cause. 

Bingo at the flats – March 2020

Forced to spend the vast majority of last year confined to our homes, the world took comfort in a wide variety of different hobbies. From baking to arts and crafts to running, people turned to any number of activities in the quest to cure their boredom. Thinking up a way that would allow them to socialise while still staying apart, Ringsend residents rose to internet fame for their balcony bingo. 

Captain Sir Tom Moore started his walk – April 2020

Not one to just rest on his laurels and do nothing, Captain Sir Tom Moore was keen to do his part in the fight against Covid-19. Pledging to walk 100 lengths of his garden to raise money for the NHS, the then 99-year-old captured hearts the world over with his efforts… which garnered him over €38 million in donations. 

Stay home video – April 2020

Set to words penned by Sarah Coffey, “The Phoenix” is an emotive Irish video that did the rounds in April last year. Highlighting the importance of staying at home and do our part, the short clip asks viewers if they think we’ll love more when this all ends. As poignant now as it was back then, we like to think that theirs is a question that warrants a resounding yes. 

The Late Late Toy Show charity appeal – November 2020

If there’s one thing that the past 12 months have taught us, it’s that the generosity of the Irish people knows no bounds – one look at The Late Late Show’s charity appeal will tell you that. Launching the fundraiser during the course of last year’s show, over €5.9 million rolled in within a two-hour period. Finishing at a whopping €6.6 million, the money is to be distributed to various children’s charities including Barnardos, Children’s Health Foundation and Children’s Books Ireland. 

Save Dublin Zoo campaign – November 2020

One of the country’s most popular tourist attractions, there was a huge outpouring of love for Dublin Zoo after staff revealed that they could face permanent closure without urgent help. Rallying the public in support of the cause, a Save Dublin Zoo campaign was set up with donations surpassing the €1 million mark in less than 24-hours… a testament to the nation’s unwavering grá for the place. 

Jersualema dance challenge – February 2021

Addison Rae may have made TikTok dances “cool” last year, but there’s one routine we’ll remember lockdown for and that’s the Jerusalema dance challenge. The whole thing kicked off when the Swiss police challenged the Gardaí to follow their lead and perform a routine to a song by South AFrican DJ Master KG and Nomcebo. Inspiring many others to try their hand (or rather feet) at the dance, pretty much everyone and their mother got involved – ultimately culminating in Ryanair’s take on the classic. 

Dolly Parton contributes to vaccine fund – March 2021

Queen of the country music world and queen of our hearts, just the mention of Dolly Parton’s name is enough to spark joy. Partly to thank for the speed at which the Covid vaccine was rolled out across the world, Dolly was a major benefactor of the Moderna vaccine. Bringing us all along with her as she got her first dose back in March of this year, the singer even changed one of her songs in honour of the momentous occasion.