Search icon


23rd Dec 2021

A look a 2021’s most meme-able moments, from Garth’s return to Croke Park to Wally’s stay in Cork

Fiona Frawley

A collage featuring Garth Brooks on stage with a guitar, a walrus lying on an empty boat, and Toby from Love Island with Mayo GAA merch photoshopped onto him

It’s been some year for the “is this real life?” moments.

In a year during which we drifted in and out of lockdowns and went for unnaturally long periods of time without regular human contact, you’d be forgiven for thinking some of the main news stories and pop culture moments were figments of your imagination. Just another elaborate yarn you fabricated on your daily walk. But I’m here to assure you reader, they were very much real. Even the ones that now, looking back, seem like a dream sequence from The Big Lebowski. In the interest of archiving, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to roundup the top meme-able moments of 2021. If you fancy a lil refresher, hop in.

Wally the Walrus returns to Irish waters

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Wally the Walrus who enjoyed a leisurely stay on boats and pontoons up and down the coast of Cork over the summer, before embarking on his long journey back to his Arctic home.

The Stephen Donnelly thumbs up fiasco

On October 12th 2020, Dr Tony Holohan texted Stephen Donnelly to express his concern regarding the rising number of Covid-19 cases in Dublin and to advise him to be cautious when publicly discussing the situation. Infamously, Donnelly replied with a single thumbs up emoji – an emoji which haunts him to this day. Case in point, the replies to this tweet he shared regarding vaccines in Ireland back in Jan. Over 6,000 thumbs up. I doubt it’ll surprise anyone to see this made it into the top meme-able moments of 2021.

Matt Le Blanc becoming everyone’s Irish uncle

I hope MLB doesn’t mind that he’s now got thousands of adopted nieces and nephews in Ireland. When the Friends reunion aired over the summer, Irish Twitter couldn’t help but notice a striking similarity between Matt Le Blanc and every Irish auld lad ever. A thing of beauty, immortalised now forever in meme form.

Toby from Love Island said Mayo for Sam

Love Island gripped us all for many reasons this year, but uncovering Toby’s Mayo connections was a huge one for the people of Ireland. Obviously.

Ireland turns Italian ahead of the Euro 2020 Final

Whether you’re a fan of the aul football or haven’t a breeze like myself, you probably noticed Ireland’s sudden and passionate allegiance to Italy ahead of the England v Italy Euro 2020 Final back in July. We all jumped on the bandwagon – it was a great moment of togetherness.

Free Luas

One of the most iconic Twitter trends of the year. What started off as one tweet quickly grew legs and went viral, soon Irish Twitter was overflowing with free Luas jokes. Eventually, transport officials contacted the Gardaí to report the claims. A real full circle moment, and meme-able AF.

Irish postboxes turn gold to celebrate Olympic successes

It was some year for Team Ireland across the Olympic and Paralympic games, and postboxes from Kellie Harrington’s native Summerhill to Skibereen where Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan famously hail from were painted gold in celebration. That’s when you know you’ve made it, kids.

Businesses across Ireland closed early because it was too feckin’ hot

Who remembers the great heatwave of July 21? It might seem like a distant dream now, but it was very real and businesses up and down the country closed early to allow their staff to enjoy a bitta fun in the sun. You love to see it.

The Evergreen container ship blocks the Suez Canal

Not technically an Irish story, but one that definitely had a big impact on Irish people. We couldn’t get enough. It even inspired a few iconic Halloween costumes:

An Irish Dad tries to send his son in Australia a Happy Birthday message…

… but can’t stop laughing. This magical video gets funnier every time you watch it, and majorly brightened up an otherwise dreary January.

Anything to do with Donie O’Sullivan

Hailing from Cahersiveen, now reporting for CNN, Donie burst onto the Irish radar in January as a result of his coverage of the Capitol riots. He’s now solidified his place forever as a national treasure.

Phoebe Bridgers and Paul Mescal’s Insta hard launch

See also: Phoebe Bridgers spending Christmas in Maynooth with the Mescals.

10 siblings????

Who could forget Tommy Bowe’s infamous ’10 siblings’ slip up, as himself and co-host Clare McKenna introduced Séamas O’Reilly, author of Did Ye Hear Mammy Died?  The book follows the story of Séamas (and his ten siblings, famously) growing up in rural Northern Ireland in the 1990s after the death of their mother. Here’s the vid if by some miracle you haven’t seen it yet, or just want to watch again.

Garth Brooks announces Croke Park dates

As Irish people, the great Five in a Row Fiasco of 2014 lives in our memories forever. So naturally, when Garth announced a run of Croke Park gigs for 2022, we had a lot to say.

Richard Chambers becomes Ireland’s agony aunt

After almost two years of living through a global pandemic, we’ve come to rely heavily on the holy trinity of Irish news reporters – Zara King, Gavan Reilly and Richard Chambers – for pretty much everything. Seeing as Richard literally wrote the book on covid, it’s not a surprise he became an agony aunt of sorts for Irish people online. We now look to him to answer any and all questions we have regarding covid restrictions and our own very personal circumstances.

God bless ya, 2021. Thanks for the mem(e)s.

Header image via Twitter/Seán O’Raghallaigh, Instagram/Seal Rescue Ireland, Instagram/GarthBrooks 

READ NEXT: How to support your local hospitality business following the latest round of restrictions