Heroes & Villains 2015

We’ve spoken to many people and consumers over the past year on a broad range of topics, and as the year draws to a close we decided to go back to the well and ask the people of Ireland who their Heroes and Villains of 2015 were

Who did the people of Ireland admire and dislike in 2015?

2015 has been a busy year on many fronts with much scope for people to be lauded or chastised. There have been sporting successes and disappointments across numerous codes. We’ve seen truly historic social change in marriage equality. There has been the political noise on a range of issues with scraps and clashes both nationally and internationally. Economic recovery with GDP estimates approaching +7% for 2015 is now a reality at a national level if not trickling down to people’s pockets just yet. Humanitarian tragedy has been an unwelcome staple across the year from aviation disasters, to the refugee crisis and the ISIS movement’s unwelcome rise to public prominence. To see a more detailed list of what events mattered to Ireland in 2015, check out our year in review of over 200 stories across every month in the Ignite Score 2015 roundup video and report.

This post however is about the people who won and lost in the eyes of Ireland. We asked a nationally representative sample of 1,000 people who they were most and least impressed with in 2015 and their reasons why. Here are the winners (heroes) and losers (villains).

Top 10 Heroes

Paul O’Connell is the Ignite hero of the year, with the most votes overall. There was an outpouring of praise for the Munster Man. His leadership skills on and off the pitch and status as a positive and clear role model were the main reasons for many naming him as the Ignite Hero of the year. Here’s a selection of why people chose Paul O’Connell:

“A great ambassador for Irish rugby and for young people, a true pro”
“A hero when we needed one”
“He’s an inspiration to us all the way he conducts himself”
“I think he has brought a feel good factor to Ireland”

A look down through the top 10 shows some interesting personalities who earned our admiration and respect in 2015:

The Pope and Father Peter McVerry occupy 2nd and 3rd spot, the first for acting as a catalyst for change in the Catholic church, and the latter for the advocacy and practical work being done in relation to homelessness respectively.

President Higgins for his work as a national ambassador has him in 4th place, followed by Rory O’Neill/Panti Bliss as a spearhead figure for marriage equality. Sporting achievements and personalities occupy 6th, 7th and 10th with Conor McGregor, Martin O’Neill and Katie Taylor all acting as an inspirational force in 2015 for the people of Ireland.

Mark Zuckerberg and Vladimir Putin making it into the top 10 raised some eyebrows in the Ignite office. However the Facebook CEO earns his spot based on recent announcements to donate 99% of his fortune to philanthropic causes. The controversial Russian president is in 9th position based on his directness and strong stance on confronting threats in the Middle East, but he is certainly not to everyone’s taste as he is the only hero to also make an appearance on the top 10 list of villains.

Top 10 Villains:

Enda Kenny has the dubious honour of being awarded the title of Ignite's Villain of 2015. Politicians across the board took much heat, but it is Enda Kenny as leader of the coalition who has received the most negative attention in 2015. A prominent aspiring political figure is a strong second place in the form of the controversial and outspoken US presidential hopeful Donald Trump. Joining these two political figures on the podium in third place is not a single person, but a group of people. The unwelcome rise to infamy in the public consciousness has led Irish people to break the rules and nominate a group of people rather than an individual to occupy third place – third place goes to ISIS.

Politicians continue to feature throughout the top 10 also. The Tánaiste, Joan Burton, finds herself in 6th position with Gerry Adams occupying 4th. Vladimir Putin makes an appearance in 9th position, and holding 9th place in both the hero and villain top 10 shows how his particular political style has a clear alienating impact on Irish people.

The remainder of the list is mainly made up of celebrity personalities, with the outspoken controversial views of Katie Hopkins earning the unwanted 5th place on our leader board. Lady Colin Campbell also known as Lady C takes 7th position for her performances on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.

Bono has attracted praise and criticism at different times for what he has accomplished and involved himself in both on and off the stage over the decades. In 2015 Irish eyes are not smiling on Bono with the Irish people putting him in 8th position, but perhaps next year we may be more positive towards the musician we love to hate. Rounding out the top 10 is the businessman Denis O’Brien who has found himself attached to specifically high profile deals in 2015 which have been hotly debated in political circles.


As the year draws to a close it is telling which personalities we hold in high regard. It seems the virtues of sporting codes and social change activists win our favour, but the political and show business stages are more likely to draw our ire. Perhaps it’s the individual personalities or the trades which they ply which position people in our top 10’s, but for now these are the Ignite Heroes and Villains of 2015 as chosen by the people of Ireland.