However, Andy Farrell’s side responded well, beating Italy, Scotland and England in their remaining fixtures to start a winning run that stretched to eight matches by the end of the year.
Included in that streak was a standout defeat of New Zealand that has raised Irish hopes of a first Championship title since 2018.
Ireland will be without injured wingers James Lowe and Jacob Stockdale, while Simon Zebo has been omitted, but the squad is a strong one and Farrell will be confident they can challenge for silverware.
Ireland v Wales, Aviva Stadium, 5 February (kick-off: 14:15 GMT)
Defending champions Wales are the visitors to Dublin on the opening day of the 2022 Championship, and Ireland will have revenge on their minds.
Ireland paid the price for Peter O’Mahony’s early red card in Cardiff 12 months ago, losing 21-16 despite leading at half-time.
The hosts can take heart from the fact they haven’t lost a home Six Nations match against Wales for 10 years. On that occasion, a late George North try secured a 23-21 win for the Welsh.
France v Ireland, Stade de France, 12 February (KO: 16:45 GMT)
Irish fans do not have to look too far back into the archives to find evidence of a win in Paris.
Four years ago, Johnny Sexton landed a dramatic drop goal with time elapsed to give his side a slender 15-13 victory that kicked off the team’s charge to a Grand Slam.
That was Ireland’s third win in four matches in Paris, although they since lost a seven-try thriller 35-27 at the Stade de France during the 2020 Six Nations.
Whoever wins the next installment of the rivalry will likely start to believe this might well be their year again.
Ireland v Italy, Aviva Stadium, 27 February (KO: 15:00 GMT)
Ireland will hope to be in contention for the Championship when Italy arrive in Dublin following the first rest week.
The Azzurri have only beaten Ireland once in Ireland, a 37-29 victory back in 1997, prior to their admission to the Six Nations.
Ireland have scored more than 50 points in each of their last three Championship meetings with Italy at the Aviva Stadium. Two years ago, the hosts ran in seven tries to win 50-17.
England v Ireland, Twickenham, 12 March (KO: 16:45 GMT)
Ireland head to Twickenham in round four, a ground on which they have only beaten England once in the last 12 years – when they won the Grand Slam in 2018.
Garry Ringrose, CJ Stander and Jacob Stockdale ran in tries four years ago as the Irish secured a 24-15 win in south-west London.
On the three other occasions that Ireland have beaten England in London since Italy made it the Six Nations – in 2004, 2006 and 2010 – it was France who claimed the Championship.
Ireland v Scotland, Aviva Stadium, 19 March (KO: 16:45 GMT)
The 2022 Championship comes to a close for Ireland against Scotland in Dublin, as the match forms the meat in the Super Saturday sandwich.
Irish fans will be confident of ending the campaign on a high due to the hosts’ good recent record in this fixture. Ireland have lost just one home test against Scotland since the turn of the century.
Two years ago, Sexton scored all of his side’s points as Ireland won 19-12 at the Aviva Stadium. Scotland have continued their improvement under Gregor Townsend, however, and cannot be discounted from winning in Dublin for the first time since 2010.
Ireland’s Six Nations 2022 fixtures (all times GMT)
IRELAND v Wales, Aviva Stadium, 5 February, 14:15
France v IRELAND, Stade de France, 12 February, 16:45
IRELAND v Italy, Aviva Stadium, 27 February, 15:00
England v IRELAND, Twickenham, 12 March, 16:45
IRELAND v Scotland, Aviva Stadium, 19 March, 16:45