Leaving Cert: Poets line up nicely as Paul Durcan pleases plenty

Rebecca Snell and Debbie Heaslip, from the Royal School in Cavan. Picture: Lorraine Teevan

Emily Dickinson, TS Eliot, Elizabeth Bishop, and Paul Durcan were the poets examined in a higher-level Leaving Certificate English paper lasting over three hours.

For ordinary-level students, poems by Bishop, Dickinson, Greg Delanty, and Percy Bysshe Shelley were the choices.

Teachers’ Union of Ireland English spokeswoman Liz Farrell said the large numbers of higher-level students hoping to see Durcan’s name on their second English paper were pleased, but that all the prescribed poetry questions were nice.

They allowed students adapt what they had learned and show off their knowledge, although elements of some questions might have been slightly difficult.

She thought a King Lear question was lovely, allowing students argue against the point raised and offer their own stance, rather than spitting out a formulaic answer. Apart from quite a challenging unseen poem, ‘And Yet the Books’ by Czeslaw Milosz, she considered it a very accessible exam.

Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland subject representative Barry Hazel considered the same poem nice, and the subject interesting.

He was pleased that, as a living poet, Durcan was one of those in the studied poetry section. But he thought the level of detailed observation required in the question on Bishop made it a bit tricky.

Mr Hazel thought one of the cultural context questions was challenging, as the theme of power it asked about might not be applicable to many of the 20 works which students would have focused on over the past two years.

For ordinary-level students, Mr Hazel said Paper 2 featured extremely accessible single text questions and approachable comparative questions on relationships and social setting.

He thought the poems chosen from studied poets were a bit challenging, with the exception of Cork-born Greg Delanty’s ‘After Viewing The Bowling Match at Castlemary, Cloyne 1847’.

Ms Farrell said there were no standout issues on the ordinary-level paper, and the language used meant students should understand everything that was required.

In the morning, most of the 5,500 Leaving Certificate students who took engineering exams took the three-hour higher-level paper. According to Asti subject spokesman Eamon Dennehy, various diagrams and other graphics should have helped understanding of the questions.

Students would have also done well if they had a general interest in all things technological and engineering. “Students had to draw from their own experience and apply their learning to solve some problems,” said Mr Dennehy.

The special topic this year was 3D printing and a question on material testing referenced prosthetics, one area where the technology can be used. Questions on heat treatment and material testing required the generation of graphs from tables of data and their interpretation to solve various problems.

Mr Dennehy said the ordinary-level paper also had a feel of modernising with the times, featuring a lot of recent technologies.

Turn classroom Irish into a class career

The benefits of studying Irish were highlighted by the opening of applications for 62 new EU translation jobs.

Up to 180 posts could be required for graduates in Brussels and Luxembourg over the next five years. A language degree is not needed but translation tests for applicants will require an excellent command of Irish and thorough knowledge of at least two other official EU languages, which can include English, French or German.

“Often, school students have felt there were only very limited careers arising out of Irish language studies. This is a wonderful opportunity to pursue a rewarding international career and to raise the profile of our national language across Europe,” said Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Sean Kyne.

Irish is an official EU working language since 2007 but the requirement to provide translation services at the highest level is only being gradually introduced up to 2021.

Around 30 Irish translators are employed.

Application details for the new jobs, with a €53,000 starting salary, are on the EU recruitment website: www.jobs.eu-careers.eu



As usual, Leaving Certificate students were bracing themselves yesterday morning to see which poets turned up on their English Paper 2 in the afternoon.

And afterwards, reactions were positive. Well, mostly positive...

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