JOANNE O'RIORDAN: 2013: a year of highs and lows

AS 2013 closes, here is my countdown of what were the stories that left the most impression on me during the year.

In January, I heard that 60,000 people had died in Syria’s bitter civil war, and in February, George Zimmerman, a white 30-year-old man from Florida, fatally shot a black teenager, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman said it was self-defence, and not racism. In July, he was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter.

In March, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the 266th Pope for the Catholic Church and gave us all hope for the Church’s future.

In April, during the Boston Marathon, two Islamic brothers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, set off two pressure-cooker bombs, injuring 260 people. Later that week, in a store robbery, Tamerlan was killed. Dzhokhar escaped but was found under a boat in Watertown, in a back yard.

In May, soldier Lee Rigby was brutally murdered as he left an army barracks in southeast London. Two men had run him over with a car, then used knives and a cleaver to hack him to death.

In June, British daily newspaper, The Guardian, revealed the leak of classified National Security Agency (NSA) documents, beginning with an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) requiring phone firm Verizon to hand over info from millions of Americans’ phone calls to the FBI and the NSA. Edward Snowden was the whistleblower. He’s on the run since.

In July, royal baby George was born. The big news was how good Kate looked the day after the birth!

In August, Corkman Rob Heffernan won the 50km walk at the World Championships in Moscow, in a time of 3:37:56 giving all us Corkonians a huge lift.

In September, we had the two wonderful hurling finals. Although Anthony Nash and the boys gave it a lash, it wasn’t enough as Clare and Davy Fitz took Liam McCarthy back to the Banner. We also had an unbelievable ladies’ final, with Cork winning their eighth title out of nine.

In October, Washington shut down, and No Limbs No Limits, the documentary about my life, launched. Obamacare caused huge controversy and so all the old men in Washington threw a strop and shut down government (can I do that during the Leaving Cert?). (No Limbs No Limits was a sell-out in the Cork Opera House, btw!).

In November, the Philippines was struck by a typhoon and there was more bad news in

December, when Nelson Mandela died.Well, here comes 2014 and, as singer Brad Paisley said ‘Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one’.


Louisa Earls is a manager at Books Upstairs, D’Olier St, Dublin, which is owned by her father, Maurice Earls.Virus response writes a new chapter for Books Upstairs

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