Joe Duffy, GAA shorts and Connell's chain - a look at the impact of Normal People, two years after its release

By Fiona Frawley

April 27, 2022 at 10:44am


"It's like something from a porno movie, Joe".

Normal People was released two years ago yesterday, at a very abnormal time for the people of Ireland.

At a time when lockdown was still a novelty and everyone was still Staying Home and Staying Safe with little to no protestations, there wasn't much else to do besides cast an eye over the most talked about show in the country. Which, as we know now, resulted in people who wouldn't usually... indulge in that type of television tuning in in their droves.

Many of us from the Sally Rooney generation found ourselves living at home for the first time in years, watching intense, passionate sex scenes with our parents on the next couch.

We learnt for the first time about intimacy coordinators, and found out just how horrified by an aul bitta ridin' many people in Ireland still were. An educational experience, all in all.

As the Sally stans of the world prepare themselves for the latest book-to-tv adaptation, Conversations With Friends, we're throwing it back to the Normal People Phenomenon of 2020, and the cultural impact it had on us all.


"Normalising promiscuity for school-goers"

After the first episode of Normal People aired in April 2020, a rake of viewers made it their priority to Talk to Joe about just how horrified they were.

In a now infamous instalment of Liveline, Tommy, David, Mary and friends called in to share their concerns about the show, providing us with such iconic quotes as "it's something you'd expect to see in a porno movie", "what's the male version of a slut?", "a dickhead" and a personal favourite of mine, "I wouldn't like a daughter of mine to be engaging in sexual promiscuity before she was married". 2020 Ireland. What a time to be alive.

Relive the drama, courtesy of the national broadcaster HERE.

"That's your man from the bus to Ballyhaunis!"


After Normal People's release, you couldn't do your daily allocated walk, your trip to Tesco or your jaunt to the bins without hearing someone say "and did you know he's your man from the Denny's ad?" 

You can win a BAFTA, be nominated for an Emmy and star in one of the most successful shows ever made, but if you're from Ireland, everyone will still talk about the time you ate sausages and rashers on telly in 2018.

The Connell's chain effect

A seemingly innocuous wardrobe accessory ended up being the subject of an Instagram page with over 150k followers, the inspiration for a global discussion about class structures, and sent fast fashion sales of Argos-esque silver plated chains through the roof. Naturally.

GAA shorts by Gucci


After the mammoth success of Normal People, Paul Mescal was spotted out and about around London in his GAA shorts, inspiring Gucci to bring out their own take on the nylon classics priced at a cool €550. The O'Neills Factory would never.

Two years later, Mescal remains true to his roots, repping Maynooth GAA in Coachella just last week.

Now that normal life has resumed and people have more to do than watch the latest BBC release, it's hard to know if Conversations With Friends will have the same type of bizarre, all-encompassing impact on the country. We will, however, 100% be tuning into Liveline the day after the first episode is aired. Just in case.

Header image via Twitter/RTÉ

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