28 October 2021

When 5.5 million readers are
more than I can count

Čumil ‘the watcher’ or the ‘Man at Work’ is hardly bothered by his daily tasks in Bratislava … about 5.5 million people live in Slovakia (Photographs: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

It came as a pleasant surprise to me that the number of visitors to this blog passed the 5.5 million mark late this afternoon [28 October 2021].

I have said so often before that this is not a ‘bells-and-whistles’ blog, and I still hope it is never going to be a commercial success. It was never designed to be so.

I decline advertising and commercial sponsorships, I accept no ‘freebies,’ and I endorse no products. Even when I am political, mainly about war and peace, racism, human rights and refugees, I refuse to declare my personal party preferences when it comes to voting.

I am keen to resist commercial pressures, I have refused to receive books from publishers and I only review books I have bought myself. Without making too much a point of it, I value my independence so much that I refuse the offer of coffee when I return to a restaurant I have mentioned … as journalists like to be reminded, there is no such thing as a free meal.

The half dozen most popular postings on this blog so far have been:

1, The Transfiguration: finding meaning in icons and Orthodox spirituality (7 April 2010), almost 30,000 hits.

2, About me (1 May 2007), over 25,400 hits.

3, ‘When all that’s left of me is love, give me away’ … a poem before Kaddish has gone viral (15 January 2020), over 17,000 hits.

4, Readings in Spirituality: the novelist as a writer in spirituality and theology (26 November 2009), over 16,500 hits.

5, A visit to Howth Castle and Environs (19 March 2012), over 16,000 hits.

6, Raising money at the book stall and walking the beaches of Portrane (1 August 2011), about 12,400 hits.

When I began blogging it took until July 2012 to reach 0.5 million hits. This figure rose to 1 million by September 2013; 1.5 million in June 2014; 2 million in June 2015; 2.5 million in November 2016; 3 million by October 2016; 3.5 million by September 2018; 4 million on 19 November 2019; 4.5 million on 18 June 2020; and 5 million on 27 March 2021.

To break down those figures, you could day that 10 per cent of hits have been in the past seven months or so. This blog is getting more than half a million hits in a seven-month period, somewhere about 50,000 to 60,000 a month, or up to 2,000 a day.

But those are figures surpassed on some occasions, and this is a tally of the biggest daily hits:

19,328: 18 August 2021
19,143: 3 February 2020
17,641: 5 February 2020
16,854: 4 February 2020
16,331: 19 August 2021

15,587: 6 February 2020
14,775: 2 February 2020
13,030: 26 May 2020
9,960: 30 January 2020
8,671: 26 December 2019

7,239: 20 May 2020
7,128: 3 May 2020
6,933: 24 November 2019
6,683: 14 January 2020
6,541: 9 April 2020

6,507: 22 December 2019
6,463: 26 January 2020
6,374: 6 November 2019
6,308: 26 November 2019
6,285: 14 October 2019

6,280: 3 January 2020
6,208: 29 November 2019
6,205: 30 November 2019
6,152: 1 October 2019
6,113: 2 January 2020

In other words, the top ‘two dozen’ or have been within the past year or two.

As for the latest landmark figure of 5.5 million hits, I might ask: what do 5.5 million people look like?

After 10 years of conflict, half the population of Syria has been forced to flee home, according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, and 70% are living in poverty.

In a statement marking the tenth anniversary of the start of the conflict in Syria, UNHCR said that the crisis has produced more than 5.5 million refugees in the region. while hundreds of thousands more are scattered across 130 countries. Of these 5.5 million refugees, 70% of refugees are living in a condition of total poverty, without access to food, water and basic services.

About 5.5 million people live in Denmark, Finland and Slovakia, the population of Scotland reached 5.5 million last year, and the population of Ireland is expected to reach 5.5 million by 2050. There are about 5.5 million people in Singapore, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Fukuoka, Khartoum, Barcelona, Johannesburg and Saint Petersburg.

The European Commission allocated €5.5 million in August in humanitarian funding to help strengthen the Covid-19 response in Lebanon. The funding comes as Lebanon faces high infection rates, with the national health system close to collapse as well as low vaccination rates.

Montebello House, a nine-bedroom five-bathroom Victorian house on Killiney Hill Road, went for sale this year with an asking price of €5.5 million, the same price as a private island off the west coast of Ireland that was sold last year. When Montebello came on the market in 2017, the asking price was €9 million.

Horse Island, a 157-acre private island off the coast of Schull in Co Cork, sold for over €5.5 million last year. Horse Island has one main, six-bedroom house, six guest houses, a boathouse and a helipad. It was sold after months of negotiations during the Covid-19 lockdown.

A prime site in Dublin city centre’s business district at 19/20 Lombard Street and 112/114 Townsend Street, was put on the market earlier this year on behalf of a private investor by agent JLL, with a guide price of €5.5 million.

Ariel House, a well-known guesthouse in Dublin, was for sale earlier this year at €5.5 million. The four-star, 37-bedroom business includes three adjoining Victorian houses at 50, 52 and 54 Lansdowne Road, Ballsbridge.

More than 5.5 million fewer passengers used Irish airports in the first quarter of 2021 compared to last year. Figures show that during January, February and March, almost 419,000 passengers passed through the five main Irish airports, a drop of 92.9% when compared with the same period last year.

Irish lobbyists spent more than €5.5 million in 2019 and 2020 engaging with EU officials, according to figures released this year.

Diabetes UK warned earlier this month that without significant government action up to 5.5 million people could be living with diabetes in the UK by 2030.

Ed Sheeran has broken the record for the biggest ever Live music performance on TikTok with over 5.5 million unique viewers watching the show across the live stream on Friday 25 and two replays on Saturday 26 June.

Work continues on Gaudí’s La Sagrada Família … about 5.5 million people live in Barcelona (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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