‘I’ve never experienced a more sustained period of loneliness than living alone throughout the weeks and months of lockdown this past year.’  Photograph: iStock

I wake up wondering how long it would take for someone to find me if I died in my sleep

John Cameron (86) has written a book about his extraordinary origins, called Boy 11963.

Boy 11963 is an incredible story of a life changed forever by a Longford scandal

The unsolved mystery of the porridge in the park. Photograph: iStock

A pot of steaming porridge in a Dublin park and other mysteries found while walking

We have all discovered this last year, as the endless months seeped amorphously onwards, that we have different definitions of what’s “essential”.

Call me a barbarian, but when lockdown ends, the theatre is not the first place I want to go

Sligo-based writer Louise Kennedy, at the old Gibraltar Rocks swimming pool on Gibraltar Road, Sligo. Photograph: James Connolly

Chef-turned-writer Louise Kennedy creates a stir with her debut book of short stories

I embarked upon a refresher course on the art of giving a dinner party, to be ready for when the post-lockdown times come

Rosita Boland: My servants are all on the pandemic unemployment payment

Liz Maguire: ‘My house is still full of glitter from all the Christmas cards.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

American in Dublin Liz Maguire has accrued an astonishing 80-plus penpals in the last year alone

Build Your Own Tiny Galway: the card is propped up at home. I want to walk through the streets of the real one again. Photograph: Anke Eckardt/tinyireland.ie

In the late 1990s I built my own Galway, roaming the city day and night

Sean Connaughton, manager at Host restaurant in Ranelagh,  preparing the meal kits for collection. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Restaurants all over Ireland have reinvented themselves. Host in Ranelagh tells how it works

It has been a truly extraordinary year for the Dublin writer

Simone Rocha x H&M: the coat and dress I’d hoped to buy

I was up before sunrise today to queue online. The website taunted me to keep trying

‘You can trash me, mate, but not on my own show’: Piers Morgan walks off Good Morning Britain. Photograph: ITV/PA Wire

Rosita Boland: The TV presenter’s mystifying obsession with Meghan Markle has hit a new low

Perfect shot: the murmuration of starlings over Lough Ennell, in Co Westmeath, on Tuesday evening. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

James Crombie, press photographer of the year, spent months chasing the perfect shot

Lisa Harding: ‘Trying to create stability as a creative artist is so hard.’ Photograph: Christophe Archambault/AFP via Getty

Lisa Harding on her new novel, Bright Burning Things, and the nomadic insecurity of renting in your 40s

A whistleblower at Pontins  has revealed it was using an “undesirable guests” list to exclude Irish people and Travellers.  Photograph:  Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Pavee Point calls the list of Irish surnames, some common among Travellers, ‘despicable’

Thousands of women with unplanned pregnancies opted to be placed with families around the country, rather than enter mother and baby homes. Photograph:  Dara Mac Dónaill

Government must support those who chose family placement over mother and baby homes

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Mother and baby homes weren’t the only places for women with unplanned pregnancies

Justine King, from Co Dublin, says it was a total shock when she found out she had Covid-19. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Recent sufferers from the virus describe how they got it and how it has affected them

Sheila Shelton was adopted by a couple in the US from a Tipperary mother and baby home

Stephanie Walsh was asked in 1971 if her family would offer a temporary home to a young pregnant girl. Photograph: Diarmuid Greene

Women who housed single pregnant girls in the 1970s and 1980s share their experiences

Sinkhole from  Hurricane Irma in 2017. Photograph: Getty

Rosita Boland: The events of the last year have followed us into this one

Druid Jan Tetteroo calls up ancient ancestors with his shaman drum on the Paps of Anu near Killarney, Co Kerry.  ‘We can’t communicate with the other dimensions for you if you don’t believe. You have to do the work yourself as well.’ Photograph: Valerie O’Sullivan

The Tetteroos live near Killarney and know at least six other practising druids in Kerry

Picnic in the sun at St. Stephens Green, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

2020 in review: There were picnics, Dubs in rural areas, no coaches and no American accents

The new normal is anything but normal, and social distancing is an oxymoron

Meet the people who have made a big difference to others in this strange, tough coronavirus year

Liam Edwards of the Jim Edwards gastropub, Kinsale, Co Cork. Photograph: Michael MacSweeney/Provision

'If there is a third lockdown in January, the next reopening after that would be very hard'

Visitors at the National Gallery of Ireland after it reopened today. Photograph: Crispin Rodwell

‘I became unemployed during the pandemic. I am excited to educate myself culturally here’

Michael Flatley’s signed Hannibal Lecter mask, valued at €80,000-€120,000, sold for €85,000 at auction

The dancer’s taste is eclectic if nothing else, judging by the sale of items from his Co Cork estate

artists at Ballinglen Arts Centre, Ballycastle,  Co Mayo. Left to right: Helen Comerford, Patricia Hurl, Carole Nelson, Catherine Marshall, Barbara Freeman, Garda Teljeur, Therry Rudin, and Maria Levinge. Photograph: Keith Heneghan

A group of female artists in their 60s, 70s and 80s have come together under the moniker Na Cailleacha, or the Hags

Gillian O’Brien: “It is unusual to go to a general history site and not to be told something about 1916 even though 1916 took place geographically in very few places.”  Photograph: Alistair Daniel

‘Sites here are generally reluctant to use the expression ‘dark tourism’ because it implies a certain exploitation of people’

Bettystown, Co. Meath. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Bettystown-Laytown in Co Meath has remained virtually free of Covid-19. How?

Capt Dara Fitzpatrick: ‘It hit me that the book was like the goodbye I never gave Dara,’ says her sister Niamh Fitzpatrick, author of Tell Me the Truth about Loss.   Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Niamh Fitzpatrick, psychologist and sister of the late helicopter pilot, on grief and loss

Debenhams staff and their supporters protest outside the shop on Henry Street, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

What has driven the former shop workers to mount one of the longest pickets in Irish history?

Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian and Kris Jenner in Paris in 2017. Photograph: Caroline Blumberg/EPA

Final season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians will air early in 2021

Teresa Dantas and Thiago Osorio Cortes got engaged shortly before the Covid-19 lockdown began. Image: GoFundMe.

Brazilian (28) fatally injured while working as Deliveroo rider proposed to partner before lockdown

Photograph: Getty

Had I done the right thing? Should I have tried to call someone? But who?

Sarah Crossan: “I made the assumption that writing for children was what I knew, but of course I know adults as well.” Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Women in particular have been judgmental about her story of an extramarital affair

Roundstone village, Connemara, Co Galway. Photograph: Conor McKeown

The ‘D4 of Connemara’ struggled through summer 2020. Then came fresh restrictions

I lived for a summer near Caherdaniel, Co Kerry, and every morning  we could hear a distinctive boom-boom as Concorde broke the sound barrier, flying from London to New York. Photograph: Tim Ockenden.

My father made a Faustian pact with my brother: a Concorde for his beard

The sun going down at Portrush harbour. Photograph: Margaret McLaughlin

Towns are ‘buzzing’ but tourists are confused by different rules in the North and South

What’s the point of a doll’s house without dolls living in it? Photograph: iStock/Getty

Rosita Boland: My encounter with a toy house echoed what I’d lost during lockdown

Killian McLaughlin with his wolves, Oisin and Finn (right), in the Wild Ireland Sanctuary in Burnfoot, Co Donegal. Photograph: Joe Dunne

Bears and wolves among the animals living at solicitor’s newly opened wildlife sanctuary

Big Wheel at Adventure Land, in Bundoran, Co Donegal. Photograph: James Connolly/The Irish Times

The Donegal town is enjoying an unexpected tourist boom in the wake of lockdown

Tom Vaughan-Lawlor as Nigel ‘Nidge’ Delaney in Love/Hate

From Nidge and Connell Waldron to Gretta Conroy, Rashers Tierney and Pegeen Mike

Lady Rosse at Birr Castle. Photograph: Laura Hutton

Held by the same family for centuries, the Castle is full of treasures and oddities

The cover story about the ‘naturist movement’ was by journalist Jeananne Crowley, with photographs by Tom Lawlor

Magazine was pulped after chairman ‘went ballistic’, but a copy has emerged for sale

Heavily reliant on North American visitors, Killarney has seen tourism drop sharply

Ireland could be “Scandinavia, but more fun” if we took a few simple decisions, David McWilliams told the opening night of the Irish Times Summer Nights online festival

McWilliams and Dermot Bannon were the first guests at the Irish Times Summer Nights Festival

 Bozoma Saint John and André Leon Talley: Vogue in Paris paid for his apartment, his restaurant and dry-cleaning bills, and a personal assistant who doubled as his on-call driver. Photograph: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images

The long-time creative director at Vogue recounts the high life he lived around fashion

Hazel Chu, the new Lord Mayor of Dublin. Photograph: Alan Betson

Dublin’s new Lord Mayor wants a new party leader, and to ‘make a difference’ for the city

Suddenly, it was July, my aunt’s birthday month. My pale pink roses grown in memory of her were blooming. Photograph: Getty

I struggled through the lockdown as if stupefied, suspended in perpetual paralysis

Gary Cahill, food and beverage director at the Shelbourne, serving coffee in the Lord Mayor’s Lounge. Photograph: Alan Betson

Irish Times journalists sample the post-lockdown tourism experience

The Shelbourne: Rosita Boland outside the reopened hotel, on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The newly reopened Shelbourne hotel smells overwhelmingly of cleaning products

Women in Harmony covered Dreams to raise funds and awareness for Safe Ireland, a charity working with women and children experiencing domestic violence

Una Healy, Saint Sister, Imelda May and Soulé among 39 singers on cover of Dreams

Pubs reopening: barman Mark Ennis disinfects tables at O’Gorman’s in Portlaoise. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Pubs that serve food can open their doors on June 29th if they follow Fáilte Ireland’s rules

Photograph: iStock

HSE-funded 24-hour texting service moves from pilot stage to countrywide rollout

Dave McCormick of Weir’s: “Watches that have leather straps are put aside for 72 hours.” Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

One lets me try anything on. Another nothing. In a third, I can try a dress over my clothes

 Susanna Moore: In the Cut  is a transgressive cult classic. Photograph: James Keyser/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images

Susanna Moore’s memoir is delivered with calm serenity, which makes for some devastating reading

Henry Street shoppers: security staff make sure people follow social-distancing rules on Monday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

After three months at home, people are keen to get out. But safety rules could make life tricky

‘The fallout from the current pandemic might accidentally achieve more good for the environment in the next few years than climate-change activists have managed for decades.’

Only 5% of world’s population has been on a plane. Maybe we’ll cherish it more next time

Oliver Callan at the Merrion Hotel, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

‘I came out to someone, and it was used as a controlling mechanism against me’

Meghan Markle: the duchess of Sussex spoke to the 2020 graduating class of Immaculate Heart High School, where she was educated, in Los Angeles

Duchess of Sussex tells students to use their vote in video message to graduating class

Selling Sunset: Heather Rae Young, Chrishell Stause and Mary Fitzgerald.

Netflix’s reality series follows the beautiful people who sell high-end Los Angeles homes

Ignatius and Mary O’Connell  met when both were teachers at a school in Ballycastle, Co Antrim. Photograph: Bronagh O’Connell

Lives lost to Covid-19: Couple of almost 60 years died within three days of each other

Team work: Donald Trump has five valets, one of whom has tested postive for Covid-19. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty

He has five, in fact, to see to his every need. It all sounds a bit Jeeves and Wooster

Lives lost: some of the people who have died of Covid-19 in Ireland and among the diaspora in recent weeks

The public, private and very full lives of some of those who have died of Covid-19 in recent weeks

Hotelier Michael Vaughan of Vaughan Lodge at Lahinch, Co Clare. ‘This year is a total write off.’ Photograph: Eamon Ward

Businesses are considering halving prices and chartering planes to keep their industry alive

Teresa Kelly left the State at a young age to work as a housekeeper in Newcastle, Northern Ireland, and later Belfast.

Lives lost to Covid-19: ‘What she valued most in people was honesty and them being down to earth’

Brigid Sreenan was well used to ‘fighting her corner’. Photograph: Aileen O’Carroll

Lives lost to Covid-19: An independent woman who would not tolerate bullies

Betty Hart: Every autumn she was out picking blackberries, and there were many, many local recipients of her pots of blackberry jam over the years.

Lives lost to Covid-19: ‘She always said her 60s were the best decade of her life’

Florence Wylie always looked smart and loved to knit.

Lives lost to Covid-19: ‘It was one of those drapery shops that sold everything from bras to buttons to zips’

 Francis Musgravestarted work at CIE at 17 years of age and remained there until retirement in 1985.

Dubliner died on March 29th, two days before his Covid-19 test came back positive

Patricia Kelly died on March 31st, in Portiuncula Hospital, where her late husband had spent so much of his working life.

Lives lost to Covid-19: Patricia Kelly had a lifelong love of music and opera

James Hynes: “He was always doing things for us. All his tools are still out in the garage”

Lives lost to Covid-19: he gave up much of his time training junior teams, and treated the weakest player the same as the stronges(...)

Bewley’s: the Grafton Street coffee shop, with Harry Clarke’s windows, in 2004. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

I spent hours in the Dublin cafe, yet no waitress ever tried to clear my table as I sat there

Childline helpline volunteer Donal Barrett. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw / The Irish Times

Difficult domestic situations are now unbearable, say Childline, Samaritans and Women’s Aid

Imelda Ward delivers Paddy Collins’s favourite meal, a hot stew, to his door. Collins worked in Shannon Airport for 42 years. Photograph: Enda O’Dowd

Volunteers are bringing meals to isolated older people during the Covid-19 pandemic

All this ‘new normal’ will be over some day. And if I can help it, in the meantime, there won’t be a single dandelion in my garden. Photograph: iStock

Nightly video calls have become essential to stop me going out of my mind

Mountrath, Co Laois. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan

In Mountrath and Nenagh, fallout from the crisis is evident, as is a spirit of perseverance

Best mates: Ying Ying and Le Le. Photograph: Ocean Park Hong Kong/AFP via Getty

Going on a bear hunt, flatshare lockdowns, Covid-19 doctors show their true selves

Bot is it art? Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as painted by AI Gahaku, a Japanese virtual artist. Source photograph: Aidan Crawley/EPA

Leo and an art bot, touring an Everest base camp, analysing Covid-19 dreams, putting manners on our pantry

Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan on Friday announced a €1 million fund for artists to make ‘new and original’ works that would be put on the internet for free. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA Wire

Arts community ‘dismayed’ at Government plans to support the sector during crisis

Paul Keogan wins best lighting design for his work on Big Chapel X and others

Recipients of Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards discuss challenges of Covid-19 crisis facing artists

Jane Johnstone with her son, Evan from Bridgetown, Co Wexford. Photograph: Patrick Browne

Three carers on working during the Covid-19 crisis, and how they are coping

Coronavirus refers to any of a family of viruses that look like spiked spheres under a microscope. Illustration: iStock

How to read a coronavirus story without getting bamboozled, and remember who’s who

 Ciara Hogan  is one of the Irish citizens who flew back from Peru on Monday.

Coronavirus: Ciara Hogan was at a jungle yoga course when Peru went into lockdown

Cooking is to be done in advance, so nobody is ‘faffing about in the kitchen’

The host of one of many ‘virtual parties’ this weekend has set a few ground rules

People  wait at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Friday. Photograph: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

It’s eerily quiet at Johannesburg airport as expats and tourists prepare to travel home

Baby John’s grave, in St Cronan’s cemetery in Roscrea. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Over five decades dozens of newborns have been abandoned, most recently in 2016

Ryleigh’s outdoor terrace at The Mayson.

Cocktail shakers are the new kettle in the slick rooms in this North Wall Quay hotel

A protest against the manner of a Government move to accomodate asylum seekers at the Achill Head Hotel has been going on for the last few weeks. Photograph: Conor McKeown

24-hour protests continue against the acceptance of asylum seekers on Achill Island

The Department of Justice and Equality signed a three-month contract with the owner of the Achill Head Hotel for the use of the premises for emergency direct provision accommodation. Photograph: Conor McKeown

State is paying for the accommodation while protests prevent 38 asylum seekers moving in

Treasured friend: Forde’s barman Brian Crean with Elaine O’Sullivan and (right) Tony Keane, all of whom were friends of Ritchie Scanlan (centre). Photograph: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision

How did the body of a man with friends and routines go for so long without being found?

The full Irish fry-up was the single biggest-selling food offering in Dublin Airport over the last year. Photograph: Getty Images/Image Source

For some passengers, the airport’s 40 food outlets are too expensive and limited

  Marie McMahon picks for a customer. Photograph: Liam Burke/Press 22

As a ‘picker’ with a supermarket delivery service Marie McMahon never stops moving

Maria Symonds-Gooding: a green-painted wooden crane for pots and kettles to be heated over an open fire came from the house of Peig Sayers.

Artist Maria Simonds-Gooding settled in Dunquin in the 1960s in a Blasket islander’s cottage

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