I was really tempted to start off 2019 with a load of rugby predictions. Was I not the first one, after all, to predict this time last year that Ireland would win the Grand Slam in Twickenham — something we had never done before in our history?
And of course, for anyone passionate about the game of rugby, 2019 is really the biggest year of all.
But I’m not going to burden our rugby team with my amateur expertise this year.
We’re away three times and home twice in the Six Nations, and our last match will be played to the strains of Land of my Fathers in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
I won’t even make a prediction about the World Cup, except one. At breakfast time on November 2 next, I will be ensconced in front of the telly, tea and toast at the ready, as the Rugby World Cup final kicks off. And I’ll be wearing green.
So, no expectations, no unrealistic ambitions, no foolish high hopes. I’ll just be on tenterhooks, all year long.
But I know you hang on my every word at this time of year, waiting for my unerring insights into what is likely to unfold throughout 2019.
Since, in all probability, this is likely to be the most unpredictable year in recent memory (and that’s saying something), I’m not going to encourage you to take out any bets on these predictions.
But in the world we’re living in, you never know!
January: There is consternation in Dublin and London when Jacob Rees-Mogg holds a press conference to announce that he has solved the Irish question.
He has published a private member’s bill in the House of Commons to re-enact the Act of Union of 1800.
“This will eliminate the need for any border on the island of Ireland,” he explains, “by reintegrating those ungrateful Irish back into Her Majesty’s dominion”.
February: Rees-Mogg abandons his bill when he is offered the post of secretary of state for trade in a Theresa May reshuffle.
On his third day in the job, he flies to Ulan Bator, and holds a press conference in the presidential yurt.
To cement Britain’s first trade deal with Mongolia, he announces an order for 100 tons of aaruul, in useful family size blocks.
“It’s made from curdled milk that is rehydrated and dried,” he explains. “It never goes bad and it’s very good for your teeth.”
March: Tension mounts throughout Europe as the deadline for British withdrawal looms, with no prospect of an agreement. A
t the last minute, Theresa May announces that to avoid further confusion, she is rushing a bill through the Commons to postpone departure.
At the same time Fifa announces that Britain has been awarded the next World Cup in 2022 instead of Qatar, and that Brexit will only happen if Britain fail to win it. All sides insist that no bribery took place.
April: With the international situation defused by Fifa’s gesture, preparations begin at home for the local and European elections.
Peter Casey announces that after long and careful consideration he has decided to form a new party.
It will be called WYHY — the “Whatever You’re Having Yourself” party — and will run candidates for Europe and local councils.
Everyone who was ever associated in any way, shape or form with the Dragons’ Den programme immediately denies they are joining WYHY.
May: Despite, as he says himself, not having a racist bone in his body, Casey runs a barnstorming campaign throughout the country, on the slogan “Ireland for the Irish and no special treatment for the ethnics”.
He just fails to get elected to the European parliament, despite giving 174 media interviews, but declares that getting two WYHY councillors elected is a triumph.
“I can’t remember their names,” he says, “but they’re a strong foundation for the future.”
June: The United States government shutdown enters its sixth month. Schools announce they will not be reopening in the autumn, and there is a constant flood of ambulances carrying sick people across the border to Mexico for medical treatment.
President Trump announces that it’s all the Democrats’ fault because they won’t agree to pay for adequate border security.
July: The shutdown is ended after Democrats and Trump agree to build a white picket fence, with gates every hundred yards, the entire length of the Mexican border. “
This is what I’ve always wanted,” Trump says. There is some confusion among his most fervent supporters when it is revealed that the fence will be 4ft high, but Trump tweets that it will be the best picket fence in the world.
August: As Ireland basks in 30 degree temperatures, with the experts predicting that this is the future, plans are announced to cover the banks of the Shannon, from Roscommon down to Limerick, with vineyards.
Diageo and the government will be co-owners of the project. Diageo are confident that wine exports will soon rival those of Guinness.
But the Taoiseach is adamant that he wants every household in the country to be able to develop an appreciation for a good Cabernet Sauvignon.
September: Celebrations erupt around the country when it is announced that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has won the Mr Universe world championship in Las Vegas. “I only entered as a joke,” he says shyly. However, his unique poses and spins so impressed the judges that he was an easy winner of the world-famous body building contest, now known as Mr Olympia.
October: Having beaten Gibraltar twice, and had some other results we’d prefer not to talk about, the Irish football team faces Georgia and Switzerland in make-or-break fixtures away from home.
Three minibuses carrying the last remaining Irish supporters are in loyal attendance.
November: There is keen anticipation in the run-up to the Budget about whether the Government will respond to the challenge of climate change.
Minister Donohue announces a major subsidy for farmers willing to feed Carrageen Moss to their cattle, because as he explains it will significantly reduce their methane emissions.
“We’re determined to make Ireland a world leader in seaweed,” he tells reporters.
December: Although we are still more than a year away from a proposed election, it is noticed that pensioners (who always vote in huge numbers) have all been given free mobile phones in the weeks after the budget.
Fianna Fáil denounce the measure as a cynical ploy.
A party spokesperson says that it had been FF’s intention, if elected, to award every pensioner a free two-week holiday instead, as a responsible measure to strengthen the tourist sector further.
Apart from all that, it would be wonderful to think that this year we might finally begin to see a turn in the homelessness crisis that has caused so much hardship for families and children in the recent past.
And maybe finally 2019 will be the year in which we start to take things like real accountability seriously.
But whatever happens, I hope you and your families have a happy and peaceful New Year.
(But seriously this year) let’s hope we might finally begin to see a turn in homelessness crisis