Monday, May 16, 2016

Fortnightly newsletter

Coming soon: a fortnightly gathering of things English - reading, writing, teaching, thinking. Sign up here.

Friday, May 13, 2016

'King Lear' revision resources

Six revision podcasts -
The opening scene
The play's bleak vision
The Good Guys - Kent and Albany
Quotation auto-test
Blindness and seeing
The End of the Play

Five ShowMe analyses (series not yet complete)
Act I scene i - Confusion and uncertainty.
Act I scene i - Love and be silent. 
Act I scene i - See better.
Act I scene i - Unruly waywardness.
Act i scene ii - Excellent foppery.

The Shakespeare Yippy search engine: look for key words, test yourself on quotations etc.

The entire play (copy to your device). 

The King Lear LitChart

National Theatre video talks:-
Kent and the Fool
Goneril, Regan and Cordelia
Gloucester, Edmund and Edgar
Lear - Simon Russell Beale 

Roger Allam as Lear below with 'Blow winds, and crack your cheeks...' below. And see Riz Ahmed here as Edmund with 'Now, gods, stand up for bastards.'   

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

'The Columban', July 1916

An extraordinary project is approaching its final stages, with the digitisation of past editions of The Columban (the school magazine) and the Old Columban Society magazines, through the generous work of Patrick Hugh Lynch. They are a goldmine for all interested in the history of the College. In June there will be a formal launch of the project, but for the moment here is a taster - the first edition of The Columban after the Easter 1916 rising. As you can read for yourself, in those days the College didn't exactly support the nationalist consensus ...

(click on the arrows to zoom in, on the arrows again for the closest look).

Monday, May 09, 2016

Articles of the Week

This is an ongoing listing of links to the Articles of the Week used with our Leaving Certificate pupils, from September 2013 onwards.

The idea came from the American teacher and writer Kelly Gallagher, and it fits very well into the Leaving course, getting pupils used to reading interesting articles and thus helping them in both the comprehension and composition sections of their Paper 1, as well as expanding their knowledge base and vocabulary and providing interesting topics for discussion.

Click here for Gallagher's current articles, and read more about the theory behind the scheme in his excellent book Readicide: how schools are killing reading and what you can do about it. Pupils have to mark up the articles with annotations before class discussion.

  1. May 2016: 'How can Lidl sell jeans for £5.99?' by Gethin Chamberlain, The Guardian, March 13th 2016 [economics, retailing, manufacture].
  2. April 2016: 'Teaching men how to be emotionally honest' by Anrew Reiner, New York Times, April 4th 2016 [gender, adolescence, masculinity].
  3. February 2016: 'Then and now: how things have changed for teenage girls since the 1950s' by Clare Furniss, The Guardian, January 29th 2016 [teenagers, gender, sexism].
  4. January 2016: 'Teenagers risk being defined for life by their social media posts' by Karlin Lilllington, Irish Times, January 14th 2016 [social media, teenagers, identity].
  5. January 2016: 'Welcome to the Anthropocene, a new geological era for the world', The Week, January 8th 2016 [geology, climate change, environment].
  6. November 2015: 'Birth Order Determines ... Almost Nothing' by Jeanne Safer, [psychology, parenting, childhood].
  7. November 2015: 'How psychopaths can save your life' by Kevin Dutton, The Observer [psychology].
  8. November 2015: '10 benefits of reading: why you should read every day' by Lana Winter-Hebert, [reading, entertainment, education].
  9. October 2015: 'How much can you really learn while you're asleep?' by Jordan Gaines Lewis, The Guardian, October 6th 2015 [neuroscience, learning, adolescence].
  10. September 2015: 'Fifth of secondary school pupils wake almost every night to use social media' by Sally Weale, The Guardian, September 15th 2015 [social media, learning, teenagers].
  11. September 2015: 'How Mum's dementia changed our relationship' by Jenny Downham, The Guardian, September 5th 2015 [dementia, family, parenting].
  12. September 2015: Why your memory sucks: the science of remembering in the internet age', by Lindsay Kolowich,, August 19th 2015 [memory, neurology, internet].
  13. September 2015: 'Syrian boy deserves better than moment of voyeurism' by Breda O'Brien, The Irish Times, September 5th 2015 [regugees, media, slavery].
  14. May 2015: 'Our Mockingbirds' by Fintan O'Mahony,, May 16th 2015 [marriage, equality, teaching].
  15. February 2015: 'Secrets of the teenage brain' by Katie Forster, The Guardian, January 25th 2015 [teenagers, neurology, parenting].
  16. January 2015: 'Does competitive sport in school do more harm than good?' by Matthew Jenkin, The Guardian, January 29th 2015 [sport, school, health].
  17. January 2015: 'Where are the "Je suis Nigeria" banners?' by Patrick Cockburn, Independent, January 18th 2015 [terrorism, Nigeria, censorship].
  18. January 2015: 'Dorchester Grill: restaurant review' by Jay Rayner, Guardian, December 28th 2014 [food, luxury, taste].
  19. January 2015: 'Sugar Season. It's Everywhere, and Addictive' by James J. DiNicolantonio and Sean C. Lucan,  New York Times, December 22nd 2014 [diet, nutrition, health].
  20. November 2014: 'Caring for my mother' by Alex Andreou, The Guardian, November 28th [dementia, old age, parents]. 
  21.  October 2014: 'The kids aren't all right' by David McWilliams,, October 23th 2014 [Ireland, recession, emigration]. 
  22. October 2014: 'Curiosity prepares the brain for better learning' by Daisy Yuhas, Scientific American, October 2nd 2014 [brain, learning, neuroscience]. 
  23. September 2014: 'Students protest 'slut shaming' high school dress codes with mass walkouts' by Rory Carroll, The Guardian, September 24th September 2014 [school, uniforms, sexism, personal choice].  
  24.  September 2014: 'Can Reading Make You Smarter?' by Dan Hurley, The Guardian, January 23rd 2014 [reading, intelligence, education].
  25.  September 2014: 'Why ISIL is worse than al-Qaeda'  by Bobby Ghosh, Quartz, August 10th 2014 [current affairs, politics, terrorism].
  26.  May 2014: 'Do Our Kids Get Off Too Easily?' by Alfie Kohn, New York Times, May 3rd 2015 [education, psychology, childhood]. 
  27. May 2014: 'Missing Nigerian schoolgirls: Boko Harem claims responsibility for kidnapping' by Monica Mark, The Guardian, May 6th 2014 [Nigeria, Islam].
  28.  March 2014: 'Can 10,000 hours of practice make you an expert?' by Ben Carter, BBC News Magazine, March 1st 2014 [education, skill, learning, talent].
  29.  February 2014: The Disunited Kingdom by Kathleen Jamie, New York Times, February 23rd 2014 [Scotland, democracy, politics].
  30.  February 2014: A giraffe has been killed - why the fuss? by Mary Warnock, The Guardian, February 10th 2014 [ethics, animals].
  31.  January 2014: The Roma - review of I Met Lucky People by Yaron Matras, by Sukhdev Sandhu, The Guardian, January 29th 2014 [Roma, prejudice, society]. 
  32. January 2014: 'We're a nation of mass dog murderers' by Aaron McKenna, The, January 18th 2014 [animals, society].
  33. January 2014: 'How Language Seems to Shape One's View of the World' by Alan Yu, NPR, January 2nd 2014 [language, bilingualism, brain].
  34. December 2013: 'Why European women are still smoking like chimneys' by Carmel Lobello, The Week, December 6th 2013 [health, marketing].
  35. December 2013: 'How Music Makes Us Feel Better' by Maria Konnikova, New Yorker, September 26th 2013 [music, brain].
  36. November 2013: 'How Do Spies Bug Phones?' in The Economist, October 31st 2013 [spying, internet, privacy]. 
  37. October 2013: 'A Tiny Pronoun Says a Lot About You' by Elizabeth Bernstein, Wall Street Journal, October 7th 2013 [language, psychology, status].
  38. October 2013: 'Best. Column. Ever.' by Shane Hegarty, Irish Times, October 4th 2013 [sport, language, journalism].
  39. October 2013: 'Westgate mall attacks: urban areas are the battleground of the 21st century' by David Kilcullen, The Guardian, September 27th 2013 [terrorism, conflict, cities].
  40. September 2013: 'Synesthesia Sells' by Laura Spinney, Slate, from the New Scientist, September 22nd 2013 [science, marketing, commerce].
  41. September 2013 : '12 things we know about how the brain works' by Shane Parrish, The Week, August 26th 2013 [science, learning, studying].
  42. September : 'Never be lost for words' by Richard Fitzpatrick, The Irish Times, September 13th 2013 [sport, language, rhetoric, motivation].

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Sylvia Plath revision presentation

Many thanks to Mrs Donnelly for sharing this very helpful revision presentation for pupils revising Sylvia Plath for the Leaving Certificate (click on the full screen icon to read it easily):

Paul Durcan presentation

Many thanks to Mrs Donnelly for making and sharing this very helpful revision presentation on the poetry of Paul Durcan, for Leaving Certificate pupils (click on the full screen icon to read it easily):

Friday, April 22, 2016

Eileán Ní Chuilleanáin reads and discusses her poem 'All For You'

Poetry Ireland have a handy resource for those studying  Eileán Ní Chuilleanáin for the Leaving Certificate, with a lesson plan and also this engaging video of the poet discussing and reading her poem 'All For You'. She did this for us, too, in her visit to the Big Schoolroom last term for our Sixth Formers.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Willis Memorial Prize for the Knowledge of Shakespeare 2016

Congratulations to Hollie Canning, who has won this year's Shakespeare Prize, after sitting an examination on the plays and a sonnet.

Saturday is the 400th anniversary of  Shakespeare's death (and also his 452nd birthday), and on Monday all Sixth and Fifth Form will receive a Shakespeare400 supplement from the Irish Independent.

Monday, April 18, 2016

'The Cat', 'Love'

Two more poems from the recent Junior Poetry Prize, this time from a Second Former and a First Former.

'The Cat', by Megan Bulbulia

They always seemed to give me
a cold dark glare,
Scrutinising my every move
As if I was in danger.

The way they move,
So dramatic, as if in slow-motion,
The way they strike:
Unforgiving, with no deliberation.

They’re independent with no doubt.
They hide and lurk in shadows.
But when they’re in the light,
They illuminate such radiance.

Their coats shine bright,
Their paws patter softly.
And as they sleep, by your side,
They purr away loudly.

Now I’m not a danger,
I’m no surprise,
They look at me lovingly
With warm bright eyes.

'Love' by Imogen Casey

I sat on a bench looking out at the city,
my phone on the ground, my heart in my hands.
The woman beside me stared with pity,
as a small tear rolled down my cheek.

I stepped in a cab without giving instructions.
The driver looked at me without disruption.
My family were praying just by the door,
all of them kneeling, heads down on the floor.

The body it lay as still as a rock.
Everyone here was all still in shock.
The arms were crossed, the eyes were shut,
the small scar on his arm where he was cut.

Now there is not a thing left of him.
Not even a trace, a scent or a sight.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Willis Prize for the Knowledge of Shakespeare

The Willis Memorial Shakespeare Prize 2016 will be held on Monday 18th April (the week of Shakespeare’s birthday and deathday) at 7.15pm to 8.45pm in Adare or 4 to 5.30pm in the Library

 (other times are possible if you find these difficult: see JMG).

All pupils in these forms have studied at least one play by Shakespeare, which you can use in the general question (60 minutes) about his plays.  Questions will be very open, allowing you to show your knowledge of and insights into the play(s) you choose.  

In addition, you can/should use knowledge of any other plays you have studied, read, or seen on stage / film.

The second question (30 minutes) will be an unseen poetry question on a sonnet by Shakespeare.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Junior Poetry Prize

Congratulations to Tania Stokes, who for the second year in a row has won the Junior Poetry Prize, this time for her poem 'Metaphorest'. 

Well done also to Megan Bulbulia, Imogen Casey, Harry Oke-Osanyintolu, Guy Fitzgibbon and Sol Guitart Rivero, who receive Distinctions for their entries, some of which will be published here.

by Tania Stokes

The springtime garden was in bloom,
Pansies and cosmos, tulips and roses,
Ivy clambering up the trellis.
Purples, pinks and whites and yellows
Surrounded me, as I sat on the deck.
The sunlight filtered through the eucalyptus
And I used to go to far-off places;
I could sometimes hear the sea.

One day, you floated here on the breeze,
Planting yourself into my life.
The garden was never quite the same
Once you began to spread,
Your brambles tangling, choking the competition.
Shadows fell over the house,
As you rose up to dominate it all,
Holding me in your thorny grasp.

You had taken over completely.

The wind changed, come Autumn
When you blossomed into something richer.
You finally brought forth your sweetness,
As ripe blackberries sprung up everywhere.
Each one was a memory full of flavour,
And as we shared them, I knew
That you had taken root in my heart.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Senior Poetry Prize 2016

Term starts today, and tomorrow we will have news of the results of the Junior Poetry Prize, completed last term.

Here are details of this year's Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry (for Seniors):-

All entries are to be typed and sent to Mr.Canning at by the evening of Monday 16th May.

Entries should contain a portfolio of  between two and five poems based on or inspired by the idea of either :-

Poems should be at least ten lines long, and typed.  The winning entry will be based on the overall standard of the entrant’s body of poems. There will also be a prize for the best poem if it is not in the winner’s selection. All other strong entries will be posted on this site.

The English Department will also give smaller book-tokens to strong entries that do not win the Prize.

You can treat the ideas, ‘Place’, or ‘People’ in a free way: any connection is fine, as long as the poems are clearly connected by image, inspiration, theme, form, situation, context …

The Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry was presented by the Dix family in memory of Peter, who died in the Lockerbie tragedy in 1988.  The memorial, by sculptor Joe Sloan, is kept in the Library
and inscribed with the names of past winners (pictured above).

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Submarine, March 2016

The latest edition of our Library magazine, The Submarine, is now out, edited by Mr McConville. Among the contributions are poems by Tania Stokes and Elena Sirazetdinova (the latter in Russian, illustrated by another Russian, Alexandra Konopleva, winner of last year's Senior Art Prize), a long article by the architect of the Library itself, OC John Somerville-Large, a review of Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life and another of a book on the dangers of sugar by Mr Mitchell.

Read it below via Issuu. Zoom in by using the arrows.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Shakespeare Solos 2

The second batch of the Guardian's Shakespeare Solos series is out, and here is the series so far, starting with Joanna Lumley's version of Viola's great speech expressing her dawning realisation about Olivia from Twelfth Night.

Monday, February 08, 2016

Junior Poetry Prize 2016

The theme of this year's Junior Poetry Prize (appropriately, coming up to Valentine's Day) is Love.

Any interpretation of this theme is welcome (love for people, place, things...).

Poems should be fourteen lines or more, and entrants may send as many poems as they wish. You should either hand your poems to your English teacher or type and e-mail them to
Mrs Donnelly on or before the last day of term, Thursday 16th March.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Shakespeare Solos

The Guardian has just launched a useful resource: Shakespeare Solos, in which top actors perform key speeches from the plays. Below, Adrian Lester with the most famous speech of all. Here is Michael Billington on the first six clips.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Senior English Prize 2015-16

Congratulations to Louvisa Karlsson-Smythe on winning this year's Senior English Prize with an outstanding essay. The prize itself will be presented at the St Columba's Day prize-giving in June.

Also, congratulations to the following, who receive a Distinction and a book token each for their fine entries: Melissa Halpenny, Callum Pery-Knox-Gore, Courtney McKee.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Essay Success

Many congratulations to Nyla Jamieson of Transition Year on being one of the winners of the UCC School of Law essay competition for 2015-16, with her essay on water charges. On Thursday, Nyla will attend the prize presentation and lecture evening at UCC. Well done to Nyla for her initiative in taking part; her essay will be an impressive part of her school Work Portfolio, too. More on this in due course.