A is for Anglo Irish Bank, the pied piper of banking that led the other banksters to where we are at. On 15 January, the bank was nationalised. The taxpayer now owns this bedraggled institution. It is the people's bank.
In February, the fraud squad arrived at the bank to the sound of trumpets. As of year's end, there is still no definitive outcome to the criminal investigations being undertaken.
Throughout the year, the bank was never far from the headlines and continued to be a drag on the exchequer as billion after billion was pumped in to prop it up.
A new board was put in place, which included two public-interest directors, including Alan Dukes. In November, it was revealed that Dukes' fee for acting in the public interest was €96,000.
A few weeks later, Anglo began to eat its young, turning on former chief executive David Drumm with a legal action to recoup €8m in loans. These days Drumm lives in Cape Cod, far from the madding crowd. He is expected back in the new year to fight the High Court action.
B is for Budget. Look, by now you've had your fill of it. No need to rake over the pain and hassle anymore. The build up to the big day on 9 December was the longest in living memory, much of it driven by the government in an attempt to soften up the citizenry. It was also the second budget of the year, following on from a sneaky one in April. Let's hope next year brings better cheer. Move along to C.
C is for Croke Park, which hosted crucial soccer and rugby fixtures during the year, but really came into its own on three days in June when U2 brought its giant claw onto the hallowed turf for a series of concerts.
The claw, which looked like it belonged to some oversized alien who had dropped down from on high, dwarfed even Bono, if not his ego. The concerts were deemed a major success, the latest chapter in the U2 story, which is truly amazing, showing that three chords and the truth can go a long way, mister. Even if you avoid tax like the best of exiles.
D is for Dunner, poster boy for the boom, poster boy for the bust. It was the worst of years for developer Sean Dunne. It began in January with an interview with the New York Times in which he dramatically picked a penny off the floor of Doheny and Nesbitts public house in a show of his humility and what have you.
Throughout the year, repeated efforts on his part to get planning permission for his €400m site in the heart of Ballsbridge failed. Things got worse in July when he was struck down by swine flu days before a court case in which he was being sued by his former auctioneer.
The court heard that while Dunner didn't have a high temperature, he could still have the swine. In any event, the matter was settled and Dunner's affliction never fully explored. Things can only get better in 2010 for this master of the universe.
E is for Economists. Throughout 2009, economists took centre stage in the national mourning over where we are at. The establishment of Nama and the framing of the black budget were both highpoints for the economists' view.
Celebrity economist David McWilliams and regulars like Jim Power were joined by a whole new slew of the species. The new voices to corral the media – and the internet on sites like irisheconomy.ie – could be broadly broken down into two strands: the academics and the bankers. The former, in general, tended to be anti-Nama but suffered from the charge that they didn't live in the real world. The economists working for banks were largely constrained by the interests of their employers, but nevertheless presented themselves as independent brokers.
For one economist, 2009 brought new challenges. On 3 September, Trinity College academic Patrick Honohan was appointed governor of the Central Bank in a move that was welcomed in most quarters.
F is for Floods. The rains came in the third week of November, and with them devastation for families and businesses throughout the south and west of the country. Cork city centre was an early casualty after a release of water from the Inniscara dam. As the days went by, the focus moved to the west, where the overflowing Shannon wreaked havoc.
One family outside Ballinasloe was housebound as their plot was turned into an island. Brian Cowen visited Athlone on 26 November, but was verbally attacked by homeowners who felt he was engaging in a PR exercise rather than doing anything to help. Initially the government set aside €10m for relief, a sum that was paltry compared to the €200m fund set up over the pork scare in 2008. A further €70m was earmarked in the budget.
G is for Grand Slam. On 21 March, Ireland defeated Wales in the most dramatic fashion to win the country's first rugby grand slam in 61 years. Ronan O'Gara kicked the winning penalty with two minutes remaining. The last kick of the game was a Welsh kick which dropped just short of the posts. It was only the second time Ireland had won the honour.
H is for House Prices. The price of a home continued to tumble through the year, with the average price finding its way back to 2003 levels by December. Over the last 12 months, prices fell by an average of just under 20% nationally. While prices plummeted, a property tax was introduced in April for second or more homes. The tax of €200 per property led to some outrage on radio talk shows, but the government held its nerve. Property economists tend to be of the view that prices have not yet bottomed out, so expect more falls in 2010.
I is for Izevbekhai, Pamela. The case of this Nigerian asylum-seeker took a turn for the bizarre in 2009. A long-time resident of Sligo, Izevbekhai's appeal against deportation was based on a fear that her daughters would be subjected to female genital mutilation. One of the main planks of her case is that her eldest daughter was already subjected to FGM.
In March, it emerged that documentation supporting that claim appears to have been forged. An interview on RTé radio with a man claiming to be a doctor who had examined Pamela's daughter now looks like it was bogus.
As Izevbekhai's case advanced through the courts, her lawyers withdrew from the case. She continues to claim that she is telling the truth. In November, the case came before the Supreme Court again, where Izevbekhai was strongly recommended to retain new counsel. Her case is likely to reach finality early in the new year.
J is for Jackson, Michael. Word spread quickly on the evening of 25 June that Michael Jackson had popped his clogs. He had been rehearsing for what was expected to be a punishing series of concerts in London at the time. There had long been concerns over his health, as he was fond of a variety of prescription drugs.
There had also long been concerns about his fondness for inviting little boys into his bedroom, which had led to a criminal charge – for which he was found not guilty – and a payout rumoured to be $20m in a separate case. The king of pop, like the king of rock 'n' roll before him, died young in circumstances that were somewhat squalid.
K is for Kerry and Kilkenny. It was the year of the favourites. Neither Kerry in football nor Kilkenny in hurling convinced in their respective championship campaigns, but both did enough to win All Irelands.
Another K who made the news was Ted Kennedy, who died on 25 August after a long struggle with brain cancer.
He was the last of the Kennedy brothers, having never achieved the fame of John or Robert, but, through decades of tireless work in the senate, he made a much bigger impact than either, particularly among the also-rans in the great American dream.
L is for Lisbon, poor bedraggled Lisbon. On 2 October, the nation went to the poll to vote on the Lisbon treaty for the second time. We had been told, if you get it wrong, you get it right next time, and so we did. The referendum passed by a margin just shy of two to one.
First time round, the No side used fear to great advantage. This time, the Yes side availed of the same tactic, hinting darkly that we would be joining Iceland on the periphery if we didn't do our duty. So it went.
M is for Murphy, Judge Yvonne. The Murphy report into child sex abuse in the Dublin diocese was published on 26 November after much legal wrangling. Like the Ferns and Ryan reports, it once more exposed the shocking level of abuse perpetrated by men of the cloth. Where it came into its own was in exposing the level of cover-up that existed from the top down, driven by the impulse to protect the institution at all costs.
Cardinal Desmond Connell's "mental reservation", a theological instrument that gave a blessing to telling lies through evasion, was a highlight of the report, demonstrating how far the hierarchy had drifted from any moral mooring.
Bishop Donal Murray was the most high-profile casualty, when he resigned as Bishop of Limerick in December.
The detail of the abuse was shocking. While the main thrust of the Ryan report earlier in the year was to detail the level of abuse, the interesting aspect to Murphy was the extent of cover-up, and compliance with the abusers, perpetrated at various levels of the hierarchy.
The combination of the two reports has left the future of the church in Ireland in some peril.
N is for Nama. The first draft of the National Asset Management Agency was launched in the last week of July. It set out the proposal to take from the banks all the bad loans that were weighing down balance sheets and pay a discount. The banks did well out of it. They got rid of their muck, and got a premium into the bargain, €54bn, for €47bn worth of loans.
Some academics told us our grandchildren will pay for this foolishness. Bank economists told us it was only the pure finest.
The bill was passed through the Oireachtas in September and October, with many amendments included. The transfer of loans will begin in the New Year. Builders will be Nama-fied and the country will either recover from the madness or go to rack and ruin.
O is for Obama. The blessed one was inaugurated as 44th president of the USA on 20 January. The year saw him struggle with the prose required to rule, following the flowing poetry he deployed to be elected in 2008. A highlight for the president was the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in October. The prize was surely awarded for inspiration rather than action.
At home, he spent the year trying to reassure citizens that wanting a healthcare system to treat everybody didn't render him a communist.
His real problem manifested itself as the year wore on. Afghanistan could realistically become Obama's Vietnam, and end up being much worse than Bush's Iraq.
P is for Patriotism. In October 2008, Brian Lenihan made a "call for patriotic action" as he delivered his budget for 2009. There was little reaction. Some might say it was a bit rich for a Fianna Fáil minister to call for patriotism in light of the huckster management of the economy over the previous decade, but at least Lenihan's hands were clean in that regard.
This year was noticeable for a lack of patriotism from all quarters. Every section of society reclassified itself as vulnerable. Everybody agreed that somebody else must take the pain. Everybody proclaimed that they were already up to their neck in financial hardship themselves. Patriotism in 2009 might best be described as, 'Twas with O'Leary in the grave. (That's John, the Fenian, not Mick of Ryanair, who is hale and hearty.)
Q is for Questions & Answers, the long-running RTé current affairs series which bowed out after 21 years. The final show was on 29 June and it was a warm, cuddly affair, one of those programmes where a number of guests mull over who we are and where we are in the great scheme of things, going forward and looking backward.
John Bowman steered the ship from 1988 and had become an institution himself. Q&A was replaced by The Frontline, a current affairs vehicle for Pat Kenny, which has made quite a splash since it debuted in September.
R is for Ryan report. Published on 20 May, the Ryan report detailed the horrendous abuse suffered by generations of children at the hands of members of religious orders in institutions.
The main thrust of the report was to detail the level of abuse within the institutions. Much of it was shocking and opened the eyes of the country to the suffering and fate of what were the lost generations who had had their childhoods swiped from them behind the walls of institutions.
The religious orders concerned were exposed as little more than slave drivers in some instances. The wider community did not come out too well either. Little children suffered, while most in power looked the other way.
S is for Swine Flu. On 11 June, swine flu, or H1N1, was deemed a global pandemic. Within months, it had begun making its presence known in this island.
The first death in Ireland from swine flu occurred in the first week of August. The victim was a woman with an underlying medical condition.
Nearly two dozen people died through the remainder of the year from the flu, most of them having had underlying illnesses.
On 2 November the HSE began its roll-out of the vaccine, first treating those deemed most at risk. At a time when the health service is under increasing pressure, and the country's reputation for cock-ups is at an all-time high, the measures put in place for swine flu showed that sometimes things can go according to plan.
T is for Tubridy, Ryan. On 28 March, Pat Kenny made the surprise announcement on the Late Late Show that he was quitting. Immediately, the media was abuzz as to who would replace him. Tubridy and Miriam O'Callaghan quickly emerged as frontrunners. Six weeks later, on 11 May, Tubridy was revealed as the new host.
The move is a major step for the 36-year-old broadcaster, and he promised to bring the show in a different direction. Since his debut in September, the show has appeared to have largely the same agenda as previously, mixing heavy and light. Most observers agree that Tubridy is making a good fist of the gig.
U is for Updike, John, lyrical chronicler of middle America for over half a century, who died on 27 January. Through novels, poems and a whole body of non-fiction work, Updike came to be regarded as one of the foremost writers of his generation.
Within days of his death another artist, Scottish singer songwriter John Martyn died at his home in Kilkenny. Martyn was just 60 and had spent most of his adulthood burning the candle at both ends, while simultaneously recording a body of work that fused blues, jazz and folk music.
The patrician writer and the vagabond singer were from different worlds, but the same side of the street.
V is for the Virgin Mary, who put in a few appearances during the year. In July, her image was spotted in a tree stump in the grounds of a church in Rathkeale, Co Limerick. Over 2,000 people signed a petition demanding that the tree be left alone in case Herself returned.
Later in the year, a visionary chap by the name of Joe Coleman led thousands to Knock for a rendezvous on 31 October. The place was hopping in anticipation. One expectant worshipper was heard muttering into a mobile phone, "She's due at three o'clock." In the end, some saw her, others missed the sighting, and everybody had a rare old time of it. Three weeks later, an eye surgeon in Galway reported a major increase in patients attending on foot of staring at the sun in search of the Blessed Virgin that fateful day.
A reprise at Knock on 5 December turned out to be a damp squib. The heavens opened and poured buckets of rain, a sign that the Gods were determined to save the eyes of the faithful. As the economic situation deteriorates, the Virgin Mary is expected to be in touch more regularly.
W is for Woods, Tiger. It was inevitable that one day the billionaire golfer's feet of clay would be exposed. Few, however, expected the exposé to come from his private life. On 27 November he crashed his four-wheel drive into a tree while leaving the family home at speed. His wife, Elin Nordegren, rescued him from the stricken vehicle using a golf club that she had handy at the time.
Within days, it emerged that he had most likely been fleeing a wife scorned. The cool, clean hero had amassed a collection of birdies to keep him company on the 19th hole.
The story went global and ballistic. Tiger was brought crashing down to earth. His commercial interests, which account for the largest portion of his wealth, remain in doubt. The missus is set to walk away with $300m.
X is for The X Factor, which turned out to be a vehicle for Ireland's newest celebs, Jedward. The 18-year-old twins, John and Edward Grimes from Lucan in Dublin, appeared on the show, couldn't sing, couldn't dance and looked awful. Perhaps it was the sheer awfulness of it all that prompted viewers to keep voting for them to the extent that they reached the last six, a phenomenal achievement.
Then, on 22 November, the judges voted them out following a torturous rendition of a Queen song. Today, they are celebs. Chances are that tomorrow they will be yesterday's wallpaper.
Y is for Yates, Ivan. He was a politician, and a bookmaker and now he is blazing a trail as a broadcaster. In mid May, the former minister for agriculture joined Newstalk's Breakfast Show as co-presenter to Claire Byrne. The initial press release referred to a three-month period, but he is still going strong as the curtain comes down on the year.
Z is for Zulu, one of the main tribes in South Africa, where Irish soccer fans will not be going next Summer.
The hand of Thierry Henry will forever blight the Irish soccer psyche. On 18 November in Paris, Henry handled the ball to assist his team mate William Gallas in scoring the vital goal of the play-off tie. The real tragedy was that Ireland had never played as well, despite going into the game a goal down from the first leg.
The nation switched into self-righteous mode. A protest was mounted outside the French embassy in Dublin. An angry populace found a new public enemy number one. Come back Seánie Fitz, all is forgiven.