2016 predictions: Storms Gertrude, Henry, and Imogen are only certainties
Frank McNally forecasts all kinds of ‘seismic’ events – political, sporting and even geographical
A vicar’s tea party list of storms will kick off the year, while a weather system named after a 7th century saint will end it. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
November: An historic Irish victory over the All Blacks in Chicago will seal the Irish-American vote and the election for Hillary Clinton.
Future perfect – Frank McNally previews 2016 through a (slightly cracked) crystal ball:
January: There is no let-up in the weather, as storms Gertrude, Henry, and Imogen wreak havoc in quick succession, while paradoxically sounding like the guest-list at a vicar’s tea party. The national mood is not improved when the Taoiseach calls a general election. “Incredibly”, announces a breathless Jean Byrne, “it looks like February will be even windier”.
February: An inconclusive result leaves a Fine Gael-Fianna Fáil coalition as the only stable option. But as observers acclaim the death of civil war politics, there is fierce resistance from Fianna Fáil hardliners, who briefly take over the Four Courts until removed by the Army. As negotiations between Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin intensify, there is talk of a rotating taoiseach. On closer inspection, it turns out to be Eamon de Valera, in his grave.
March: The Ireland rugby team makes history, overcoming defeat in Twickenham to win the Six Nations for a third year running. Some English newspapers grumble about a pan-Celtic stitch-up as their team beats France in the tournament finale, again, but is once more pipped on points difference. Joe Schmidt insists Ireland’s 97-3 win over Scotland was “harder than it looked”.
April: The centenary commemorations have been a success. But after hearing themselves invoked in support of one too many causes they hadn’t even thought about, the “men of 1916” are forced to issue a statement clarifying their views. Speaking through a firm of Psychic Relations consultants, they sound surprisingly right-wing on some issues, including Mick Wallace’s dress sense.
May: With the country still mopping up after storms Jake, Katie, and Lawrence, Irish people console themselves that at least there’s still no sign of the 2016 earthquake forecast by Old Moore’s Almanac. As for the oracle’s other stand-out prediction – Mayo winning the All-Ireland – the omens are good, as the westerners beat Dublin in a weather-delayed national league final.
June: Germany’s reputation for ethics takes another knock amid revelations that the country’s scientists have wilfully underestimated the emissions from Holstein cattle – now the world’s most popular dairy breed. Speaking in Schleswig-Holstein, Angela Merkel apologises for the flatulent animals but rules out a recall.
July: Another month passes without an Irish earthquake, but the word “seismic” is used widely as a shock series of results sees the Republic and Northern Ireland advance to meet each other in a quarter-final of Euro 2016, to be played on July 1st: the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. The game passes off peacefully, despite a last-minute winner by James McClean.
August: Rory McIlroy dramatically secures gold for Ireland at the Rio Olympics, when his second shot at the par-5 18th hits the flag (a Union Jack waved by a loyalist protester) and bounces into the hole. After some confusion, the stroke is declared valid. Golf and political commentators are united in describing both the three-under-par score and the North’s continuing flag protests as an “albatross”.
September: With the scores level in the last minute of the All-Ireland final, Aidan O’Shea rounds Dublin goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton and is about to shoot into an empty net. Mayo supporters are already celebrating the end of 65 years of pain. Then a small earth tremor – later measured at 3.5 on the Richter scale – moves the goal-posts slightly and O’Shea misses. From the kick-out, Dublin score the winning point.
October: In the US Presidential election’s “October surprise”, Donald Trump shoots himself in the foot – literally – at a rally in support of the National Rifle Association. He recovers gamely, telling the smoking gun “you’re fired!” as he’s helped into an ambulance. But what’s left of his reputation as a “safe pair of hands” evaporates.
November: In a doubly-historic rugby match in Chicago, Ireland beat the All Blacks for the first time. Hillary Clinton joins their lap of honour, clinching the Irish-American vote and winning the election three days later.
December: The Irish and British met offices are already well into a new alphabet of storm names, again chosen by the public. But after Colin, Dudley, and Edwina, there is quiet satisfaction in Ireland that the next weather system will be named after a famous 7th century saint. It makes landfall in the west with a soft “c”, but hardens as it crosses Ireland, before causing havoc in Britain. The Sun summarises public indignation at both the storm and the name in a memorable headline: “It’s Fechin Awful.”