Most-read of 2017: the most popular articles on irishtimes.com

Meteorology matters as four stories on Hurricane Ophelia appear in the top-10 list

A cormorant flies over the South Wall as storm Ophelia builds off the East Coast. The story fascinated a public obsessed with meteorological matters. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

A cormorant flies over the South Wall as storm Ophelia builds off the East Coast. The story fascinated a public obsessed with meteorological matters. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

My late grandma never missed the weather forecast on TV. In fact, she never missed either of the evening weather bulletins – the one after Six O’Clock television news on RTÉ and the other one after the Nine O’Clock News.

Long after she was finished venturing outside very much she still needed to catch the forecast at least twice a day, even though it had absolutely no impact on her daily life. She was, it is fair to say, obsessed with the weather. And she was not alone. It is a national obsession.

It is no surprise therefore that the stories before, during and after Hurricane Ophelia dominated the list of most-read irishtimes.com stories in 2017, given our unwavering interest in meteorological matters.

The article headlined “Hurricane Ophelia: how will it affect your county?” was published on October 15th as the devastating storm bore down on Ireland and Met Éireann issued a red weather warning. It was the story that was most read this year.

A total of four stories on the hurricane appear in the top 10 most-read list and six stories about the hurricane and one about a snow warning published in January appear on the list of the 20 most popular stories of 2017 on irishtimes.com.

The list of most popular stories provides a fascinating insight into reader preference. It is perhaps unsurprising that severe weather features so prominently as it is those stories that directly impact on people’s daily lives that are always popular. The ongoing Brexit rollercoaster, some quirky stories and a number of human interest and tragic stories also appear on the list.

1 Hurricane Ophelia: How will it affect your county?

Our main story in the lead up to and during the hurricane provided a county-by-county breakdown of how the hurricane would affect each area. This most-read story also broke another record, by having the greatest number of bylines, nine in total, on any story we can remember. Ophelia was the easternmost Atlantic hurricane on record and the strongest storm to hit Ireland since Storm Debbie in 1961, which claimed 18 lives on the island. Ophelia went on to claim three lives in Louth, Tipperary and Waterford respectively.

2. Hurricane Ophelia: All schools and colleges closed as red weather warning extended nationwide

The story published on October 14th in the build-up to the storm alerted the public to the impending damage and destruction that was heading towards Ireland. Met Éireann, for the first time, issued a red alert which advises members of the public to take action to protect themselves and their property. The warning also prompted the shutting down of the State’s school and third-level system and the suspension of many transport services. Tragically, Fintan Goss was to die when a tree fell on his car after he, like so many around the country, left work early to return to his family in Ravensdale, Co Louth.

3. Man finds car 20 years after forgetting where he parked it

The Pulitzer committee is understood to be sniffing around this one; and they say The Irish Times has no sense of humour. Dominique McMullen’s report on the German man who was reunited with his car, 20 years after he forgot where he parked it, was the third most popular story on irishtimes.com in 2017. Don’t worry, readers, we are definitely not judging you. Okay, we are judging you a little, but we still love you.

Bad sex in the movies: from Top Gun to Fifty Shades featured at number four in our list.
Bad sex in the movies: from Top Gun to Fifty Shades featured at number four in our list.

4. Bad sex in the movies: from Top Gun to Fifty Shades

Those three little letters – S, E and X are bound to get your hearts racing, your computer mice clicking and our analytics machines twitching. At number four, Donald Clarke takes a sideways cut at the history of sex scenes in the movies, describing it as a sorry tale of awkwardness, bad taste, pretention and evasion.

5 Hurricane Ophelia: Three dead and 295,000 without power as storm enters final hours

As the hurricane passed over Ireland with tragic consequences on Monday October 16th, readers logged in in large numbers to read of the devastation. Almost 300,000 properties were left without power and three people were killed died. Members of the public were warned to stay inside until the hurricane passed.

6 Why is Hurricane Ophelia so powerful and why is it heading for Ireland?

Readers were fascinated to find out everything about Ophelia and other facts. For example, only 15 hurricanes have passed within 200 nautical miles of the Azores since scientific monitoring began in 1851. Grandma would have loved this story.

7. British government realises Brexit is a mistake, official says

Ah, Brexit, a most-read list wouldn’t be the same without you. In 2016, Brexit dominated the list and it features prominently again as the horror show unfolds on an almost daily basis. Ruadhán Mac Cormaic reported in April that Ireland’s top Brexit official John Callinan said the British government was slowly realising Brexit is “an act of great self-harm”. Prescient, really, given just how slowly the penny has been dropping ever since.

Euromillions winner Dolores McNamara, from Limerick collects a cheque for over €115 million at the National Lottery offices in Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller
Euromillions winner Dolores McNamara, from Limerick collects a cheque for over €115 million at the National Lottery offices in Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller

8. 40 houses owned by Irish EuroMillions family listed for forfeiture

Mark Paul reported in January that the family of Euromillions winner Dolores McNamara had about 40 houses listed for forfeiture by local authorities in the US city of Detroit, Michigan, for non-payment of property taxes, according to public records.

9 What connects Brexit, the DUP, dark money and a Saudi prince?

Channel 4 news recently described columnist Fintan O’Toole as “legendary”. We, of course, have know for years, just how legendary the Crumlin native is, not least because of columns like this one in May. Here, Fintan highlights some strange goings-on involving our DUP brethren, a pricey pro-Brexit ad in the Metro freesheet in London and a Saudi prince. “This story has all the makings of a John le Carré thriller but democracy on this island needs facts, not fiction,” writes Crumlin’s most famous son before Conor McGregor came along. This is definitely worth another read over the holidays.

10. Couple given one year to demolish house built without permission

After the weather, property has to be the other top obsession of the Irish. Layered with a heavy dose of planning permission, other people’s misfortune, and perhaps little sprinkle of serves-them-rightness, this story snuck in at the end of the top 10 list for 2017. It tells the story of a couple, he a plumber, who built what can fairly be described as a humongous house near Navan in Co Meath. One problem; they did not have planning permission to do so. The Supreme Court took a dim view of this and on May 19th last gave the couple 12 months to demolish the property. Join us in the summer for an update.

Re-visit the top 50 most-read stories of 2017 here: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/most-popular/most-popular-2017

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