The 20 most-read stories on irishtimes.com in 2020

Coronavirus dominated the annual list of most-read stories on our website this year

Rebel Wilson: her dramatic weight loss was the subject of an opinion piece by Jennifer O’Connell, at number 19 on the list

Rebel Wilson: her dramatic weight loss was the subject of an opinion piece by Jennifer O’Connell, at number 19 on the list

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Nothing says Christmas quite like the arrival of your year in music from Spotify, announcing perhaps your secret penchant for K-pop that you have had on repeat while out walking the dog in the evenings. Others might take the putting up of decorations, Christmas FM finally crackling into life, or ordering the turkey as signals that festivities are under way.

In The Irish Times, the annual email from our analytics team, with a spreadsheet attached, is a sure sign that it’s time to get the “out of office” message crafted.

The spreadsheet contains a list of articles, usually 100, that have been the most popular among our readers and subscribers since January 1st. The stories are sorted under various headings: how many people read them, when they were published, who wrote them, what the story was about and so on.

If somebody had asked me last February to predict what might be on that list I would most certainly have said the February general election, the November US election and maybe Brexit.

Coronavirus was the subject of 74 of the 100 most-read stories in 2020, all of the top 10 and 18 of the top 20.

Top of the list was Conor Pope’s article featuring Irish retailers who were fighting for their survival and selling online during the second lockdown. Published on October 20th as “One hundred Irish retailers for all your online Christmas shopping”, the article was updated several times and ultimately listed 400 online Irish retailers.

Second, and one of the small number of non-coronavirus articles at the top of the list, was Fintan O’Toole’s piece on Donald Trump in April. Under the heading “Donald Trump has destroyed the country he promised to make great again”, O’Toole says the world has “loved, hated and envied the US. Now, for the first time, we pity it.”

Una Mullally’s article on Saturday September 9th about the experience of Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin in University College Dublin was one of the three articles in the top 20 list that did not relate to the pandemic. Under the title “Two years of harassment at UCD”, one of Ireland’s best-known academics tells Mullally of being repeatedly harassed by a professor over the course of two years. This article was 18th most-read in 2020.

The third non-Covid-19 piece in the top 20, in 19th place, was Jennifer O’Connell’s column on Rebel Wilson and her “unrecognisable” weight loss photographs. “What kind of toxic society tells women that looking good means looking nothing like themselves? Would the ultimate ‘weight loss success story’ need to involve vanishing altogether?” asks O’Connell.

Ireland’s momentous election is relegated to number 26 in the top 100 list, with political editor Pat Leahy’s story of the incredible exit poll result which was announced at 10pm on Saturday February 8th. The Ipsos MRBI exit poll correctly predicted the outcome of the election: a three-way tie between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Sinn Féin.

At number 41, a report by Health Editor Paul Cullen on Sunday, March 1st said that a Dublin school was to close for two weeks after a student was confirmed as having coronavirus. The teenager became the first person in the Republic to test positive for the virus when they became ill after returning from Italy.

We continued our coverage of the story from The Irish Times’ Tara Street offices after that Sunday but, just 10 days later, on March 11th, the entire staff left the building, after a member of our editorial team tested positive.

Our digital and print editions have been produced from far-flung parts of Ireland since. It means that out of the top 100 most-read stories of 2020, more than 80 per cent were produced by people working in their bedrooms, livingrooms, kitchens and home offices from all over Ireland.

Top 20 most read of 2020

1 400 – Yes 400! – Irish retailers for all your online Christmas shopping

2 Fintan O’Toole: Donald Trump has destroyed the country he promised to make great again

3 Covid-19: State moves to Level 5 for six weeks with hopes of ‘meaningful’ Christmas celebrations

4 Coronavirus: More ‘striking’ evidence BCG vaccine might protect against Covid-19

5 Coronavirus: Schools, colleges, public facilities set to shut

6 Coronavirus: The reopening Ireland plan in detail

7 Una Mullally: Leo Varadkar’s mask drops again

8 Coronavirus: Italian doctors on how Ireland can avoid disaster

9 How Dutch false sense of security helped coronavirus spread

10 Coronavirus: First death confirmed in Ireland as WHO declares a pandemic

11 Coronavirus: Varadkar returns to practising medicine to help during crisis

12 Coronavirus: People to be allowed to travel anywhere in their county from Monday

13 Restarting Ireland: When and how will we ‘get back to normal’?

14 A letter to Ireland from Italy: this is what we know about your future

15 Revealed: Phased plan to exit coronavirus lockdown in Ireland may see cafes reopen by midsummer

16 Life in Level 3: What will happen under new restrictions in Dublin?

17 Coronavirus: Minister signs regulations giving gardaí powers to enforce lockdown

18 Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin: Two years of harassment at UCD

19 Rebel Wilson’s ‘unrecognisable’ weight-loss photos are toxic and depressing

20 Are holidays booked for July and August going to happen?

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