This year marks 20 years since global tech giant Google opened its first operations centre outside of the United States on Dublin’s Barrow Street.
Originally employing just five employees at the Docklands site, Google now directly employs about 5,000 people across Ireland.
A lot more than just the company’s employee numbers have changed over the past 20 years though. Its name is now a verb in the Oxford dictionary for example, with the ability to surf the web synonymous with the search engine.
To mark its 20th Irish anniversary, Google has taken a look back at some of Ireland’s biggest search trends and tabulated what exactly Irish people have been typing into the search engine bar for the past two decades.
Ireland’s weather obsession
Unsurprisingly, one of the most googled terms in Ireland over that time was the weather. A meteorologically obsessed nation, people from across the country searched for the latest weather conditions at an expeditious rate. The weather in Co Leitrim’s Carrick-on-Shannon proved to be the most searched town, followed by Tramore in Co Waterford and New Ross in Co Wexford.
This summer, the term “heatwave” has seen a surge in search activity, with the phrase not seeing such use since 2018. The most frequent heatwave-related searches include “When will the heatwave end?” and “Heatwave memes”.
Conversely, in 2011, Ireland was hit by a series of floods, which affected towns across the country, and famously the Dundrum Town Centre too, with the term “Dundrum floods” placing second on the list of weather-related searches.
The year 2015 continued on in a similar vein, as the country’s malleable weather once again dominated the public consciousness. That year was particularly memorable on the climate front, as Met Éireann and the UK Met launched the “Name Our Storms” campaign. Since the introduction of this scheme, the nation’s most googled storm has been 2017’s Storm Ophelia, closely followed by 2019’s Storm Lorenzo and 2018’s Storm Callum.
Ireland’s sports obsession
Sport is another pivotal talking point within Irish life, and this fact was borne out by Google searches over the previous 20 years. The year 2012 saw the London Olympic Games dominate the back pages, and Google’s search bar too, with the term “Olympics” having been searched more that year than any other.
The year 2012 saw Katie Taylor top the Irish Olympian search charts, with sailor Annalise Murphy claiming that title at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Additionally, Michael Phelps did not just seal five gold medals in the pool, but also the prize of the most Googled Olympian overall in Ireland that year.
Next month sees Ireland travel to France in search of World Cup glory, but back in 2009 Declan Kidney’s historic Six Nations winning side ensured the term “Grand Slam” featured heavily on the Google search charts for that year.
Similarly, Ireland’s final day victory over England back in March was this year’s most Googled rugby match in Ireland so far, with the question “What’s a Grand Slam in rugby?” spiking by over 700 per cent over the course of the tournament.
Irish Google users’ curiosity
Irish Google users don’t just use the search engine for weather and sports updates though, with millions of “How to” and “What is” questions answered each day. Ireland’s love for culinary delights is borne out by “How to make pancakes” regularly topping trending searches.
The Google trends can also offer a glimpse back in time, reminding people of the nation’s obsessions over the course of the past 20 years. In 2014, Irish people’s most searched question was “How to make loom bands”. Moreover, in 2015, the nation’s most frequently asked question was “How to use new Snapchat”.
“What is” is another prominent question on the trends charts, with 2008’s top “What is” being “What is the Lisbon Treaty?”, while 2018’s was “What is blasphemy?”.
Google’s trending searches can also aid in the recollection of culturally significant moments and events. In 2013, “twerk” topped the search charts. “Despactio” claimed the crown in 2017, while the era of Donald Trump’s US presidency saw the term “impeachment” top Irish Google searches in 2019.