2022 has been a busy year for The Currency. We published more than 1,500 articles and more than 100 podcasts. Putting together a list of the most read or listened to among all these stories isn’t easy.
As an editor, I know there are brilliant stories that, for whatever reason, don’t gain the same traction as others. We aren’t overly worried about how often an individual story is read, provided it provides genuine insight into an important topic. Our commitment is to quality journalism, not clickbait.
Over the coming days, I will be selecting articles that I believe showcase our journalism; stories that informed, challenged, and entertained.
However, in this list, I have selected 30 of our most-read pieces from the past year. It is an eclectic list that moves from mixed martial artists to intricate changes in tax policy. But it highlights the breadth and depth of our coverage across a wide variety of areas.
This list is imperfect, but it is also interesting.
Conor McGregor adds another pub to his portfolio, down by the Waterside
For the second year running, a story about the business activities of the mixed martial arts superstar Conor McGregor has topped the list of most-read stories. This says much about the level of interest globally in McGregor, as well as highlighting his vast social media presence. A retweet by the Dublin fighter is enough to drive significant traffic to any story or any sight. Last year, the story was about McGregor acquiring the Marble Arch pub in Dublin 12, a location he previously admitted to assaulting a customer in. In 2022, it was the news that he had quietly acquired the Waterside Bar in Howth from a group of local businessmen. As Tom put it: “His new pub is almost directly opposite Howth Yacht Club, making it easy for him to berth his yacht there before strolling over to his new property.”
Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine was, sadly, one of the dominant stories of the year. And the resilience and fortitude of Ukraine in the face of such an offensive has been one of the most inspiring. In the days after the invasion, Sinead asked a simple, yet profound question: How did we get here? She argued passionately that we have marginalized the people who dedicate their lives to understanding the complexity of our world, that we chose to read 360 characters instead of 360 pages. “We cancelled before we tried to understand. We made (and lost) a quick buck instead of investing in long-term change,” she wrote.
Settlements and secrets: How a paedophile was allowed free rein at Terenure College
In February 2021 John McClean was sentenced to eight years in prison for the abuse of 23 boys at the fee-paying Terenure College between 1973 and 1990. Tom is a former student at the school, and in this insightful report, he examined how Terenure College allowed “a bully and a creep” to amass such power long after the first allegations emerged.
For a period early this year, it looked like Liverpool were on the cusp of absolute greatness as they chased four trophies. In the end, they had to settle for one. However, while the chase was on, Dion took his son to see the club. It came forty years after his father had taken him to Anfield for the first time. In this essay about family and place, Dion drew parallels between the two trips.
Sinead O’Sullivan: Ireland’s establishment is waging war against the young. The best defence is to leave
Sinead has written about a wide variety of things this year: investing in dinosaur bones, promiscuity as a service, and why Kim Kardashian could be a game-changing private equity investor. In this piece, however, she reflected on her relationship with Ireland, and how the generals in charge had waged an economic war against the young.
In July, Justin Bickle sadly died of a heart attack while on a trip to Dubai. He was only 51. In this piece, Sean reflected on his legacy and his role reshaping the house-building industry here. As Sean put it: “When Irish banks withdrew from property lending after the crash, there was a need for a new model for property development and home building in particular. Bickle helped provide it.”
A property investor is suing three individuals in a row over a €160m student accommodation scheme
Last October, a number of residents in Goatstown in south Dublin brought a judicial review application to the High Court over an expedited decision by An Bord Pleanála’s to permit a nearby 698-bed student accommodation development. In January, an investor in the proposed eight-block development commenced legal action against several residents and is seeking damages. As Tom reported, the action will be closely watched by other developers frustrated by delays in being able to commence building, as well as dozens of individuals who have taken judicial reviews in relation to developments all over Ireland, but especially in Dublin.
Rugby is at a crossroads. The inability of the sport to deal adequately with player safety concerns is highly damaging. The issue of concussion is becoming starker. And it has prompted a number of former players to issue legal proceedings. In June, Dion broke the story that three Irish players had lodged filings against the IRFU and World Rugby in the High Court in Dublin. The world will be watching when the case comes before a judge.
Two of Ireland’s most successful restaurateurs are raising a €20m fund to acquire 20 eateries. This is why
Even now, the hospitality industry has not yet recovered from the pandemic. Insolvencies in the sector are up, while confidence is down. But this has also created opportunities. Domini Kemp and Brian Montague are behind Valence Hospitality, a new fund planning to build a group of bespoke restaurants. They talked about what type of eateries they are interested in buying, and the returns on offer to investors.
There are about 1,700 households in Clonakilty, the lovely west Cork town that’s home to JP Morgan’s Irish acquisition, Global Shares. After the stunning $730 million deal was announced, fully one in 19 Clonakilty households received a pay-out. In this piece, Sean detailed the 58 Global Shares millionaires (and the 472 other winners).
Did you make mistakes? “100%, totally”: Altada’s Niamh Parker and Allan Beechinor want to set the record straight
The downfall of Altada has played out very publically. However, before the hotly tipped AI firm collapsed into both liquidation and receivership, Tom went to Cork to meet with its two founders, Allan Beechinor and Niamh Parke. They addressed the firm’s controversies, and admitted to mistakes, but continued to talk up the firm’s potential.
At 10.30 on Wednesday April 20, Garda investigating alleged criminal activity in the border region pulled up outside the gated mansion of Seán Quinn. Brandishing a search warrant, they entered the property, and several hours later, left with several boxes of materials including some electronic devices belonging to Quinn. In the aftermath of the raid, I examined how the tycoon has morphed over the years, and why, as he found his voice, people stopped listening. Summing it up, I wrote: “The support that Quinn once boasted in the region has dissipated. The popular anger has calmed. Methodically, and at great personal cost, the team at Mannok have gone about their business, and kept going. The world has moved on. However, after finding his voice, Quinn seems determined to keep using it.”
Having built a €160m property pipeline in leafy south Dublin, two former business partners have now gone to war
Business disputes are sadly part and parcel of business itself. This dispute centred on the property firm Seabren. In five years, the firm went from building boutique housing in prime Dublin locations to developing major complexes. However, as Francesca reported, the forces behind the venture ended up battling over profit shares and claims of misappropriation. The case has since been settled.
In their own words: How Aidan Corbett and Jack Pierse grew Wayflyer to unicorn status (in just 20 months)
In January, Aidan Corbett and Jack Pierse finalised a $150 million funding round that valued their business, Wayflyer, at $1.6 billion. If the valuation was impressive, the length of time it took Wayflyer to achieve it was extraordinary – it was only founded in September 2019 and launched just 20 months before becoming a unicorn. Shortly after closing the round, the pair sat down with Tom to tell the Wayflyer story.
Dance halls, Broadway and the Queen Mary: The making of John Mahon
In August, The Currency broke the story that John Mahon had won out in a bidding war against Conor McGregor for JW Sweetman, the landmark pub on Dublin’s Burgh Quay that was formerly part of Sean Quinn’s portfolio. In this fascinating piece, Rosanna profiled the Mahon family.
The Housing Assistance Payment is one of the state’s largest subsidy schemes, yet the identity of its recipients has been a well-guarded secret. After a year-long freedom of information battle, Thomas obtained details of the HAP payments made to the scheme’s 1,936 recipients operating as corporate entities in 2019 and 2020.
An inconvenient truth: Costs, completions, and the real data behind the cracks in the Irish housing market
In his columns, Ronan seeks to use data and statistics to understand and explain the property industry. In this example, he used data on house completions, prices, and costs over a 50-year period. It painted a stark, sobering picture: to achieve the government target of 30,000 new completions a year, prices must either increase by 24 per cent or construction costs will have to fall by 40 per cent.
The tech slide – and subsequent redundancies – has been one of the major business stories of the past few months. However, even before that, there were warning signs. In this piece, Sean examined why a number of funds had taken the decision to write down the value of their holdings in Stripe. “Stripe looked to have played the financial system deftly, by raising capital for years in the private markets. But now the vibe has shifted,” he wrote.
The hard yards: How Terry Clune built a kingdom
One of Ireland’s most successful entrepreneurs, Terry Clune is personally understated but has interstellar ambition. In this in-depth interview with Rosanna, he discussed a potential IPO of his unicorn TransferMate, the bitter dispute with Connect Ireland, and a car accident that almost killed him.
Students at TU Dublin in Grangegorman walked out of lectures earlier this year in protest at housing shortages. But right beside the campus is a site with a shopping centre where permission to build nearly 600 student beds remains unused. In a piece that says much about Ireland’s planning malfunctions, Tom sought to understand just what was going on.
Who is Ardstone? Part 1: A decade of office deals from Dublin to Barcelona
Behind a leafy façade in Georgian Dublin, a small team has been instrumental in directing global institutional investors towards Irish property development. Based on hundreds of documents, site visits and insider information, Thomas painstakingly told Ardstone’s story.
Bobby Healy has been thinking a great deal about the future: What it looks like, how we get there and how it is made. In this interview with Stephen Kinsella, the Manna founder outlined his views and talked about innovation, funding and the issues facing indigenous business.
Paul Flynn: Gaelic football was once a game of the heart, now it’s a game of the head
Paul’s pieces on Gaelic games are thoughtful and based on real-life experience. In this piece published on the weekend of the four provincial finals, he explained how anarchy has given way to organised chaos.
Two days after he delivered Budget 2023, I sat down with the then Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe for our annual post-budget interview. It was an opportune time – Donohoe knew he would be shifting departments weeks later. He spoke candidly about his time in office – from achievements to regrets, while he also spoke about the specifics of the budget, the future of taxation, and governing in a time of crises.
How a lawyer from Limerick helped sell Chelsea and AC Milan, while bringing Barcelona and Spotify together
Ian Lynam had no dreams of becoming a sports lawyer, but from one deal with Arsenal and a belief that US sport represented the path to progress, he had set up the UK’s pre-eminent sports law firm. Fintan Drury talked to him about representing Marcus Rashford, the sale of Chelsea and the future for rugby.
Earlier this year, the IBRC Commission concluded its probe into the sale of Siteserv to Denis O’Brien. Ahead of the publication of the report, Tom wrote a three-part series on the transaction, totalling 19,000 words. This is the combined series.
From Christmas trees to alleged whiskey fraud: the investors who took on WFS Forestry
An inspector is due to report to the High Court on whether Christmas tree business WFS Forestry intended to defraud investors out of around €1.4 million. Those investors set out why they believe they were duped.
According to Sean, city golf courses are a sinful waste of space. By building on the centrally-located Dublin courses, he said we could accommodate 250,000 and make a dent in the housing crisis. As he put it: “It’s a question of space. Golf is pleasant because it’s a stroll around a big, empty place. The golfer can look about him and see nothing but grass and trees in all directions.
But in a city, that doesn’t work. The whole point of a city is that people must be close together. The inescapable problem is that golf clubs take up a lot of space per player, and in the city, there is limited space to go around.”
Karl Brophy on INM intrigue, corporate “spies” and building Red Flag
Red Flag Global, a strategic communications firm founded by Karl Brophy, posted record profits in its 2021 accounts, but the story of its rise is rooted in journalism as it grows internationally. He spoke with Tom about a wide variety of issues and topics.
After building up their career in professions ranging from doctors to accountants, many self-employed taxpayers decide to change tack and operate as a company, attracted by the tax treatment of the initial transaction and subsequent income. But a dispute with Revenue has now put key elements of this model into question.