The winners and losers of 2019: Who had a good year and who had it bad?

Year in Review: Greta and J-Lo celebrated, while Rudy and Elon licked their wounds

Teenage Swedish  activist Greta Thunberg at a strike on climate change outside the White House in Washington, DC. Photograph: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg at a strike on climate change outside the White House in Washington, DC. Photograph: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

 

Good Year

Shane Lowry
The year started off well for the Offaly golfer with a win in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in the United Arab Emirates in January. The victory was all the sweeter because Lowry had been struggling to find his game over the past couple of years. But that was trumped by his win at the British Open at Royal Portrush in Antrim in July, which saw him carry the Claret Jug home to his native Clara, where thousands were waiting to give him a hero’s welcome.

Shane Lowry, who won the Claret Jug at the British Open in Co Antrim. Photograph: Getty Images
Shane Lowry, who won the Claret Jug at the British Open in Co Antrim. Photograph: Getty Images

Jennifer Lopez
The actor/singer/dancer/fashion designer/businesswoman has had an “unbelievable” year, culminating in a nomination for a Golden Globe for best supporting actress in the film Hustlers. Lopez, who turned 50 this year, also had a successful music tour, wowed the Met Gala, strutted the catwalk in the Versace dress she wore 20 years ago, and performed the half-time show at this year’s Superbowl.

Edna O’Brien
The Irish novelist (88) has delivered a late-life masterpiece in her new novel, Girl, about a Nigerian teenager abducted by Boko Haram. Girl has received widespread praise, and O’Brien topped her great year by winning the David Cohen Prize for Literature, worth £40,000 and seen as a precursor to a Nobel prize.

Tiger Woods
The US golfer clawed his way back from scandal, addiction and ill-health to win his first major in 11 years with his victory at the US Masters in Augusta, Georgia, in April. His win put him just one short of Jack Nicklaus’s record of six Masters wins, but, more importantly, it restored Woods’s confidence that he could still compete at the top level at 43.

Olivia Colman
In February, the British actor beat Glenn Close and Lady Gaga to win a best actress Academy Award for her role as Queen Anne in Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Favourite, adding to her Golden Globe and Bafta awards. Her good year continued when she succeeded Claire Foy to play Queen Elizabeth in season three of the popular Netflix drama The Crown.

Jim Gavin
The Dublin manager led his side to a glorious All-Ireland replay win over Kerry in September, achieving the elusive five-in-a-row senior Gaelic football titles, and solidifying his place as one of the greatest managers in the game. He was given the Freedom of Dublin City in September, and announced his retirement at the end of November.

Greta Thunberg
The schoolgirl from Sweden has brewed up a storm in 2019, becoming the global face of climate activism. She sailed across the Atlantic on a zero-emissions yacht to attend a UN summit in August. She has become a red rag to a certain type of middle-aged man, with Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro recently calling her a “brat”, so she must be doing something right.

Phil Hogan
The Fine Gael MEP has been the EU’s agriculture commissioner for the past five years, and in October he was confirmed as the next trade commissioner for the EU. Hogan is considered a canny negotiator and was nominated for the post by new EU commissioner Ursula von der Leyen. The Kilkenny man will be steering the post-Brexit talks with the UK on its future relationship with the EU.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Her character in Fleabag can’t cut a break; but the writer and star of the hit
comedy series has been getting all the breaks this year. Fleabag swept the Emmy Awards in September, putting Waller-Bridge’s name on Hollywood lips. She was hired to work on the script of the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die, on the recommendation of Daniel Craig, and has signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Amazon.

Actor Aisling Bea has starred in a new Netflix film, Living With Yourself, and a Channel 4 series, This Way Up
Actor Aisling Bea has starred in a new Netflix film, Living With Yourself, and a Channel 4 series, This Way Up

Aisling Bea
The Irish actor and comedian is getting to act opposite not one, but two Paul Rudds in the new Netflix sci-fi comedy series Living with Yourself. The Kildare actor plays a young married woman who discovers her husband has accidentally had himself cloned, and now she has to deal with two very different but equally exasperating spouses. Bea has also written and starred in her own comedy series, This Way Up, on Channel 4, with her friend Sharon Horgan co-starring.

Dermot Kennedy
This year has belonged to the gritty-voiced singer from Rathcoole, Co Dublin. After building up his following online and publishing his songs on Spotify, Kennedy signed to Interscope Records, and his major-label debut, Without Fear, hit Number One in Ireland and the UK, with the song Outnumbered hitting both the UK and Irish top 10.

Megan Rapinoe
The outspoken captain of the US national women’s soccer team has had a mega year, leading her team to their fourth World Cup final victory in July. After their win Rapinoe, a strong advocate for LGBT+ rights, gave an inspiring speech calling on the world to drop the rhetoric of hate and “be better”. She won player of the year at Fifa’s The Best awards in September, and this month was named Sportsperson of the Year by Sports Illustrated.

Bad Year

Rudy Giuliani
Donald Trump’s personal lawyer has been so intemperate during the controversy over Ukraine, you wonder if he’s actually working to take down his boss. His TV appearances have been a litany of gaffes and accidental admissions, and two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, have been arrested. Trump has distanced himself from his former close buddy, so we’re expecting that bus Giuliani will be thrown under to arrive any minute.

Personal attorney to US president Donald Trump. File photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA
Personal attorney to US president Donald Trump. File photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Theresa May
Three years after the UK voted to leave the EU, the British prime minister finally threw in the towel, announcing her resignation in June and leaving the field open for Boris Johnson to bluster his way into power and “get Brexit done”. May had tried desperately to get parliament to back her EU withdrawal deal with its built-in Irish backstop, but it was rejected three times, and she was hobbled at every turn by her coalition partners, the DUP.

Maria Bailey was deselected from the Fine Gael ticket in Dún Laoghaire for the next election. File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times
Maria Bailey was deselected from the Fine Gael ticket in Dún Laoghaire for the next election. File photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Maria Bailey
In politics, it’s swings and roundabouts, but in the case of Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey, it was all swings. Earlier this year, it emerged that she had lodged a claim against the Dean hotel in Dublin after she fell off a swing while out with friends. She subsequently dropped the claim, but saw her support from the public – and from within the party – fall off a cliff. She held on doggedly, but in November she was deselected from the Fine Gael ticket for the Dún Laoghaire constituency in the next general election.

Eoghan Murphy
The Minister for Housing saw his year get worse as homeless figures rose inexorably, until he’d be better off being renamed the Minister for Doorways. The beleaguered Minister faced a vote of no confidence in early December which he just about survived, but the general feeling is that it won’t be long before Murphy finds himself turfed out onto Kildare Street.

Conor McGregor
The mixed martial arts fighter from Crumlin has continued his downward spiral from inspirational figure to bad influence in 2019. Earlier in the year he was arrested after footage of him allegedly snatching a phone from a man and stomping it into the ground in Florida was released. Later in the year he was fined over an altercation with a man in a pub. In March he announced his retirement from mixed martial arts, but has since announced he will be back in the Octagon in January 2020. Maybe next year he’ll be back in the news for all the right reasons.

Conor McGregor was fined over an altercation with a man in a pub. Photograph: Collins Courts
Conor McGregor was fined over an altercation with a man in a pub. Photograph: Collins Courts

Sean Dunne
The former property developer’s US court woes continued unabated in 2019, with the courts finding in April that he fraudulently turned over millions of euros in assets to his ex-wife, Gayle Killilea. They ordered Killilea to surrender €18.1 million. Dunne has told the court that he is “broke” and earning only €200 a month and is therefore unable to pay a €8,500 sanction imposed upon him. A US judge ordered him to pay.

Mark Zuckerberg
The Facebook boss has lost a lot of face over the past year, as anger continues to boil over his company’s handling of fake news, privacy issues and political advertising. His announcement that Facebook would not fact-check political ads on the platform was widely condemned, with actor Sacha Baron Cohen saying that if Facebook was around in the 1930s, Hitler could have taken out an ad calling for the extermination of Jews.

Elon Musk
The flamboyant Tesla boss has been keeping a low profile this year, following the cannabis-smoking controversy of 2018, and the storm over his tweet hinting he was “taking the company private”. But controversy seems to dog the South African – this year’s launch of the Tesla Cybertruck descended into farce when Musk tried to demonstrate its indestructibility by throwing a metal ball at the vehicle, smashing the window and knocking nearly $800 million off his net worth.

Prince Andrew
The Duke of York is having his own annus horribilis, thanks to his ill-advised friendship with billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. One of Epstein’s victims Virginia Giuffre alleged she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was underage, who she said sweated profusely. The prince gave an interview on BBC TV in which he claimed to have been at a Pizza Express in Woking on the night in question, and that he could not sweat at the time due to an incident during the Falklands War. Cue newspaper headline “His Royal Dryness”.

Felicity Huffman
The Desperate Housewives actor and wife of William H Macy was arrested over her role in a college admissions cheating scandal, pleading guilty to paying $15,000 to have a proctor correct the results of her daughter’s college entrance exam. Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in jail and 250 hours’ community service, and fined $30,000.

Mauricio Pochettino
The Tottenham manager was sacked in November following a disappointing year for the team, who took only 23 points from their last 24 Premier League games. Pochettino took Spurs to the final of the Champions League, but failed to take home any silverware. A 7-2 drubbing to Bayern Munich in October and a loss to League Two club Colchester in the Carabao Cup was the last straw, and the Argentinian was replaced by José Mourinho.

Julian Assange
The Wikileaks founder, who spent seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to the US to face computer hacking and espionage charges, finally wore out his welcome and was forcibly removed from the embassy and arrested in April. His health has deteriorated since his imprisonment, and friends and supporters fear he will die in custody.

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