The Year in Pictures

Images captured by ‘Irish Times’ photographers and agencies in Ireland and around the world tell the often harrowing, sometimes uplifting, but always powerful stories of 2015

For me the photograph of 2015 is the heartbreaking image, above, of a little refugee boy, Aylan Kurdi, neatly dressed, drowned on a tourist beach in Bodrum, Turkey. The photograph, almost simplistic in its composition, says so much more about the human tragedy of the migration from Syria than all the words.

It hit us between the eyes on the picture desk, but on the day, our policy of protecting the reader from upsetting images of bodies overcame our news instincts that it should be on page one and it ran instead as the main image on a foreign news page.

This picture leads off our collection of the best photographs of the year, by our core team of staff photographers, regular freelance contributors and agencies in Ireland and around the world.

Inevitably, the selection reflects the mood of a year heavy with news, much of it disturbing. But our Irish news pages are lifted by the colour and the joy, for the majority, of the marriage equality referendum.

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The ongoing issue of homelessness is reflected, as are two major local tragedies, the 10 family members who died in the fire at the Carrickmines halting site and the murder of a Garda, the same weekend, while protecting a woman from domestic violence.

In politics, we have Enda and Joan in contrasting moods, from blind optimism to sulky chill. And in Mullaghmore, a royal visit as Charles and Camilla spent time at the harbour where Charles's great-uncle, Lord Mountbatten – along with his grandson Nicholas and a local boy, Paul Maxwell – were murdered by the IRA in 1979.

In 2014, our weather was memorable for the massive storms, but in 2015 our summer horribilis gave way to a long and very welcome golden autumn, a photographer’s delight. Our fantastic sports photographs include looney antics at a camogie game; Paul O’Connell’s agony; and an off-pitch FAI boss who never fails to entertain.

Our world section has the cream of pictures from the best agency photographers. The subjects range from the recent attack in Paris, through the surreal sight of world leaders as hot air balloons, to the emotion of a Greek man who broke down outside a bank during the financial crisis.

The world section is understandably dominated by images relating to the refugee crisis, an issue that simply will not go away. Arguably the strongest image is the saddest, a little girl victim of a bombing attack in Syria awaiting medical attention.

In the people section we celebrate life – from a 100th birthday party in a pub (locals would argue the pub), through high-jink gymnastics at Áras an Uachtaráin and a show of style at the races, to an Instagram take on daily life.

Again, the most striking image is arguably one of a child, a sickly baby asleep in a caravan surrounded by concrete blocks, thematically a sad echo of the Carrickmines situation.

U2's triumphant homecoming show raised stagecraft to a new level. It is matched in its impact by a stunning photograph from a Moscow State Circus rehearsal, of a dancer twirling mid-air in the beam of a spotlight.

We end with slices of daily life, a beautiful image of fog on Dollymount strand, a vibrant veteran swimmer in the Liffey, a new infant citizen, and a tearful family reunion as a soldier returns from Lebanon.

Despite all the changes in technology, the best photographs, through the emotional connection with the viewer, still touch a place in the brain and in the heart that other media cannot reach.

I hope you enjoy this selection.