THIS was the year that more readers than ever before read Limerick Leader stories, setting a new record for a paper with a 128-year history.
Continuing to hold a strong position in a tough print industry, the Leader came into its own online in 2017, surging ahead and establishing itself as the number one outlet for news in the Mid-West, with a digital audience in the millions of unique users every month.
In May, amid a hat-trick of major accolades for the newspaper at the Local Ireland Media Awards, the paper took home the award for best digital content for a second year in a row, with a special citation for the paper’s strong use of social media pointed to in the judge’s speech at the awards in the Killeshin Hotel in Portlaoise.
We are constantly striving to bring you the best and first in breaking local news, sport and culture, while also showcasing the Leader’s strong print content in new and innovative ways online.
So what did readers from over 200 countries worldwide read online this year? There was tragedy and crime, there was death and life, property and taxation, politics and weather - and the search for Limerick’s best pint of Guinness rose like cream to the top for the most read story online in 2017.
Amid disaster and death, there was nothing like the search to find the pub that serves Limerick’s best pint of Guinness by popular consent - and the competition was fierce.
In the end, it was honours even as it was simply too close to call between JJ Bowles in Thomondgate and Mother Macs on High Street, who will share the honour for the pub serving the best pint of Guinness in Limerick - as selected by readers in their tens of thousands.
Coming a close second for the most read story was the tragic tale of the man facing terminal illness who shot himself in the chapel on the grounds of University Hospital Limerick. The man, who was in his 60s and from east Limerick, had earlier received a terminal diagnosis of cancer.
Tragedy filled the list of the most read stories, but it was two, of young people who died all too soon, that really caught hold of the Leader audience, that of Castletroy College student Luke O’Brien May, 18, who died during his Leaving Certificate exams, and 20-year-old former UL student, Denisse Dasco from Raheen, who died suddenly and unexpectedly.
The courage of one grief-stricken mother was a beacon of light in 2017, as Majella Cosgrove spoke at her son’s funeral Mass of how the mental health service had “failed” him. In a soul-stirring address from the altar of St Munchin’s Church for the 30-year-old “gentle soul” Derek, whose body was recovered from the River Shannon, brave Majella said her son had been “failed by the very system that was supposed to help him”.
The Leader’s sports team brought you the best in local GAA, rugby, horse racing and more, while we endeavoured to bring you the best in storm coverage during Brian and ex-hurricane Ophelia, the latter which was covered with a live blog on a dark and scary Monday in October when most of Limerick was at home and the Leader team was bringing you the latest news from the city and across the county.
The story, complete with video, tweets and pictures, of council crews battling flooding during Storm Brian - including at a sodden Sarsfield House - was also among the most read.
This was a year for breaking records and bringing Limerick news to the world. We aim to do it all again next year.