Welsh and Irish fans show the tension of the last moments of the drawn Six Nations game in the Palace Bar, Dublin. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Ireland’s quest for unprecedented third successive Six Nations title begins with result almost as rare

“The Red Hand, that ubiquitous symbol of Ulster, straddles the political and sectarian divide.” 

During a visit to Belfast recently, I was struck by the contrasting neutrality of the hand.

Detail of a sign on a pub in London’s Mayfair

When Irish footmen were all the rage in English aristocratic circles

Christy O’Connor Jnr celebrates on the final green after winning his match in the 1989 Ryder Cup. Photograph: Getty images

Amid sadness at early death, emphasis of service on celebrating great sportsman’s life

“If there’s an actual crossroads anywhere that encapsulates Irish history, it must be the one at Kilmainham Courthouse.”

‘You’re looking for the gaol, aren’t you?’

 A vicar’s tea party list of storms will  kick off the year, while a weather system named after a 7th century saint will end it. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Frank McNally forecasts all kinds of ‘seismic’ events – political, sporting and even geographical

Mark Wiggins and Daniel O’Brien in the Mendicity Institution’s workshop. Photograph: Frank McNally

One of Ireland’s oldest charities and 1916

Hugh McGinnis:   even at 94, he was at a loss to explain the savagery he saw

An Irishman's Diary: Hugh McGinnis was the last surviving soldier from the massacre in 1890

 Ada Lovelace: computer genius and daughter of Lord Byron

Irishman’s Diary: Wild imagination set her apart from other geniuses of the era, including Charles Babbage

Thinkstock

An impressive spectacle in full flight

Marie Antoinette by Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun (1778). Kunshistorisches Museum, Vienna

Marie Antoinette and Irish finance

“My own fond theory is that Micheál O’Hehir smuggled  shemozzle back from New York in his luggage after the 1947 All-Ireland football final.”  Photograph: Jack McManus

The shebeen-shebang shemozzle

President Higgins is escorted by  Sean Rainbird, director of the National Gallery of Ireland, and the Italian ambassador, Giovanni Adorni Braccesi, to the reading. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

On a stormy winter day, President Michael D Higgins led us into the haven of poetry

Use ye not the word 'fulsome' when ye mean 'full', for that is unclean

Players from both teams get involved in a scuffle during the AIG Fenway Hurling Classic between Dublin and Galway in Boston. Photograph: Ray McManus/Sportsfile

A new way of measuring on-pitch incidents

Ireland’s Jonathan Walters celebrates scoring the second  goal at the Aviva on Monday night. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Green army plays 12th-man stormer as Irish secure prized European Championships spot

“The next time I’m in Dublin’s Upper Leeson Street, I shall pause long enough to admire a sculpture called ‘Carnac’, by Bob Mulcahy”

A right Balzac (on the road to Carnac)

Detail from the Duke of Connaught Memorial Window, Ottawa, by Wilhelmina Geddes

Bringing an Irish artist back into the light

Sonia O’Sullivan running in the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Holles Street horrors all worthwhile for participants as race enters new chapter

Cardiff city skyline. Photograph: Thinkstock

The truth behind a popular local catchphrase

One plus for Irish fans is  they’re not French fans, whose team was humiliated on Saturday night. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Argentina always had an extra gear and pulled away for a 23-point victory

Johnny  Sexton in action. Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Joe Schmidt’s team will attempt to reach Rugby World Cup semi-final this Sunday

Fans celebrate as Conor Murray scores Ireland’s second try. Photograph: James Crombie/INPHO

Heroic team paid dearly in blood, sweat and tears for an epic victory

Paul Rouse’s ‘Sport and Ireland – A History’ highlights an extraordinary range of Irish sport, including “horse riding, naked”. Illustration: Thinkstock

From hurling to chess to naked horse riding

Horse power: France’s Mathieu Bastareaud and Alexandre Flanquart training in Cardiff. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Last time we faced simultaneous French-Polish attack was in 1815 – and we won

Republic of Ireland  players congratulate goalscorer Shane Long after their victory over Germany: Photograph: INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Long’s goal sets off the most raucous celebrations in Lansdowne since McAteer in 2001

TK Whitaker. Photograph: David Sleator

The man who lived for Ireland

    Kipling’s ambivalence to Ireland did not prevent him being constantly drawn to this country for a certain kind of hero. Photograph:    EO Hoppe/Mansell/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

A strained friendship, sealed in blood

 A Canada and Ireland fan enjoy the atmosphere during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool D match between Ireland and Canada at the Millennium Stadium on in Cardiff on Saturday. Photograph:  Michael Steele/Getty Images

Mood of Irish rugby supporters soars on a glorious day in Cardiff

Ready for the Ireland vs Canada game in Cardiff this afternoon, from left: Linda and Aoife Dungan and Katie and Billy Dungan from Skerries, Co Dublin. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

A Clare man in Cardiff frets about the opposition better known for ice hockey

Myles na gCopaleen aka  Flann O’Brien aka Brian O’Nolan. File photograph: The Irish Times

This year’s event attracts 65 academics from countries including Brazil and Singapore

A cross etched in the grass – the memorial to Frederick Cavendish and Thomas Henry Burke, killed in the Phoenix Park by the Invincibles. It is one of the most discreet memorials you will ever see.

Frank McNally on a most discreet memorial

Connolly Books in Temple Bar Dublin. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Frank McNally on the theatres of Temple Bar

Frank McNally on a wartime kickaround

Suzanne Burke, Athenry, Caithríona King, Cotofin, and Cathy Dillon, Athrenry, at the Galway Races on Tuesday evening. Photograph: The Irish Times

This meeting is not as flashy as before but punters still in thrall, writes Frank McNally

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