Thursday, December 27, 2007

Keats-Shelley Museum

One of the most moving and tasteful memorials to any poet is the small Keats-Shelley House museum on the Spanish Steps in Rome (the website has been added to our 'Individual Poets' links in the sidebar). This is the building where Keats lived out his final months, tended by his dear friend Joseph Severn. Pictured, our Head of Department John Fanagan on a pre-Christmas trip to Rome, looking at Keats's death mask. The room is where the poet died of tuberculosis aged 25, though the furniture is not original (everything was burnt afterwards).

Keats and Shelley (and many other notables) are buried in the so-called Protestant Cemetery in Rome, a beautiful tranquil site which three English Department teachers visited a few years ago. Keats's poetry, including our recent Poem of the Week 'To Autumn', is on the Leaving Certficate course for 2009, while Shelley has been reduced to 'Ozymandias' on the Ordinary Level course (occasionally). The inscription on the grave reads :

This Grave contains all that was mortal, of a Young English Poet, who on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his heart, at the Malicious Power of his enemies, desired these words to be Engraven on his Tomb Stone:
Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water.

Friday, December 14, 2007

End of Term

This blog closes down now (perhaps apart from an occasional post) until the start of next term, Monday January 7th. Last night in the BSR we had our annual Christmas Entertainment, a sequel to last year's pantomime set in St Saints' School and called Glancing at Lufthansa. This time, young boys Michael and 'Bob' set off on a quest across Europe, through England, Germany, Italy and Hungary, to find the Ultimate Hat and save the school from closure. Pictured, small boys listening to Headmaster Augustus Scenario at the opening Assembly.

Season's greetings to all our readers.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Slave, La Prisonniere, Child of Tibet

The final TY Extended Essay we'll be posting before term ends is by Gina Mirow, who chose an unusual subject, Child Exploitation, as seen in three books - La Prisonniere, by Malika Oufkir, Slave by Mende Nazer, and Child of Tibet, by Soname Yangchen, about which Gina writes :-

it is an inspiring autobiography, set against the beautiful background of a turbulent Tibet, we learn about a different culture and way of life and witness how one woman's indomitable spirit sustains her through desperate circumstances, heartache, international singing success and, at last, reunion with her lost family. This is by far the best-written book out of the three, but I found that the plot of the story didn’t combine well with the way that the story was written. The author wrote the story very descriptively however describing setting and visual presentations more than sentimental ones. Since the plot was so dramatic, it often seemed to lack effort in the emotional parts of the book. This is mainly the reason why I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the other two; probably because I was expecting something so drastically different. Nevertheless, I learned a lot about the Chinese occupation and the setting of Tibet and India.

Read the full essay by Gina here.

St Andrew's Cast

The cast for next term's entry for the St Andrew's one-act festival, The Apollo of Bellac, is :

Agnes - Rosy Temple
Therese - Ellie Russell
The Clerk - Johnny Hollis
The Man - Sandy Cole
The Vice-President - Dylan Stewart
Mr Lepedura - Oscar Nunan
The President - Ben Armstrong
Chevredent - Erin Large

More on the production next term ...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Camus, Tartt, du Maurier

Our third TY Extended Essay features a very unusual mix of books. Kate Haslett writes about her project :-

The themes I have chosen to study for my extended literary essay are, crime, guilt and conscience, and I have entitled it, ‘Crime and Punishment’. I chose this title as I wanted to explore the morality and virtue of the different characters in my three chosen novels. The three novels I have chosen to write on are The Outsider by Albert Camus, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and The Secret History by Donna Tartt. Although seemingly different they all share one underlying common ground - the main characters are each guilty of a secret crime, whether it be a crime of passion, or a cold blooded murder and they will all have to deal with the consequences and gravity of their situation.

Kate's full essay is here. The Daphne du Maurier site is here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fowles, Shreve, Yen Mah

The second in our series of excellent Transition Year Extended Essays comes from Jessica Dean, whose essay was on 'Dysfunctional Relationships' in three books - Adeline Yen Mah's Falling Leaves, Anita Shreve's Resistance, and John Fowles's classic chilling masterpiece The Collector, about which Jessica writes :-

I found The Collector the most interesting to read, as it was written from both Clegg’s and then Miranda’s point of view. The way John Fowles wrote when he was doing Clegg was particularly brilliant. The fact that the novel is split into the diaries of both Clegg and Miranda gives you two different perspectives on each character. The character of Clegg was written excellently; Fowles captured every minor but vital detail that passed through Clegg’s thoughts, interpreting and portraying his mentality very accurately. Miranda’s diary is also a great insight into understanding his ways, as Clegg’s version of events are usually distorted by the way he interprets things. Miranda’s diary gives another perspective of him, showing us how monstrous he does eventually become.

Here is Jessica's full Extended Essay.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Plath, Morrison, Banks

Before the end of term, we'll be posting some of the fine work done by IV formers in their Transition Year Extended Essay projects. The first of these is an outstanding essay by Fiona Boyd, which has received a (rare) Commendation. She writes :-

The books I have decided to write my Extended Esssay on are And When Did You Last See Your Father? by Blake Morrison, a memoir of his father’s life, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, the semi-autobiographical tale of a young girl's breakdown and Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks, a realistic and intriguing book about one boy's journey
into adulthood.

I chose these books, based on the recommendations of my English teacher, with the intention of basing my essay around the theme of 'Relationships'. However, after reading the books I couldn’t draw together enough material to write solely a
bout relationships so I began to look for other options. First I weighed up the books’ similarities, then their differences, then their strengths and finally their weaknesses and I formed a conclusive decision in my head. All three books were different in terms of social order (class), era and gender. This meant that the themes common in the three books, such as issues with their fathers, were written from three very different angles and so quite difficult to base a whole 3,000-minimum essay on. However all three did have one thing in common - changes. And so this became my theme.

Eventually Fiona found 3000 words too restricting a target : here is her full essay.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Language of Education

Last night Professor Terry Dolan from UCD gave another bravura performance while lecturing to VI and V pupils on the subject 'The Language of Education'. He examined the derivation of words from Greek and Roman times up to the present day, and then answered a battery of questions from the audience on a huge variety of words. Pictured, Professor Dolan flanked by VI form pupils afterwards in the Warden's Study.

Doris Lessing, and Tom Paulin

Yesterday's Guardian Review had two particularly interesting articles. Next term we will be studying Doris Lessing's first novel The Grass is Singing with our V form as part of their comparative module in the Leaving Certificate course. Lessing is not well enough to travel to Stockholm to collect her recently-awarded Nobel Prize for Literature, but you can read her Nobel lecture, 'A Hunger for Books' online on the Guardian's site here. It is an impassioned defence of reading and storytelling :-

We are a jaded lot, we in our world - our threatened world. We are good for irony and even cynicism. Some words and ideas we hardly use, so worn out have they become. But we may want to restore some words that have lost their potency. We have a treasure-house of literature, going back to the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans. It is all there, this wealth of literature, to be discovered again and again by whoever is lucky enough to come up on it. suppose it did not exist. How impoverished, how empty we would be.

Also, Tom Paulin writes about our 12th Poem of the Week, John Keats's ode 'To Autumn' here, (picture of manuscript, right), and argues that it is 'not only a pastoral masterpiece but a coded political poem in the aftermath of the Peterloo massacre.'

Finally, Giles Whittell wrote a savage attack on Shakespeare in yesterday's London Times here :
It's the plays I loathe, and the orgiastic groupthink that drips from every one of them; the industrialised, irresistible consensus; the greatness thrust upon them by brainwashed English teachers, polished with coach vomit and fish-and-chip fat on every school trip to Stratford, mindlessly reaffirmed by every A-level English examiner, and worshipped with world-class, awestruck claptrap by academics and directors from Stanford to Irkutsk.

Entertaining hyperbole and, of course, wrong. We here at SCC continue to celebrate the works of Shakespeare in class, through our Shakespeare Society, and in our productions of his plays, such as
The Comedy of Errors, As You Like It and, this time last year, Twelfth Night.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Professor Terry Dolan

This evening we welcome back our good friend and frequent visitor, Terry Dolan, who often lectures to our pupils about words and their origins, and of course also about his specialism, Hiberno-English. This post records his visit last year (pictured with prefects Ben Dunne and Emma Mallon), and we'll report on tonight's talk in a couple of days. Terry is recognized everywhere now also through his chats with Sean Moncrieff on Mondays on Newstalk.

Friday, December 07, 2007


II formers in John Fanagan's class have recently been experimenting with haikus, such as

Lingfan Gao -

Soft are the footsteps
Walking towards the cradle
Not to wake him up.

The spectators come
As sweat pours down from your head.

But the sh
ow must start.

(Lingfan played at the music concert on Saturday night - possibly an inspiration?)

Eamonn McKee -

On the sodden earth
The heather is fluttering

Like a butterfly.

On a rugged wall,
The ivy is quivering
In the endless gust.

and Peter Marshall

Frogs jumping around,
Frogs hopping away from snakes,
Frogs doing cool tricks.

For more haikus from members of the class, click here.

Coincidentally, recently Seamus Heaney wrote in the Guardian about Japanese poetry :

In the years since these early developments, the haiku form and the generally Japanese effect have been a constant feature of poetry in English. The names of Basho and Issa and Buson have found their way into our discourse to the extent that we in Ireland have learnt to recognise something Japanese in the earliest lyrics of the native tradition. The hermit poets who wrote in Old Irish in the little monasteries were also masters of the precise and suggestive.

Heaney's full essay is here.

The Apollo of Bellac

Mr Jameson and Mr Fanagan are holding auditions at lunchtime today (1.20, BSR) for next term's one-act drama entry for the St Andrew's competition in February, Jean Giraudoux's The Apollo of Bellac. If you're interested and can't make it then, please see Mr Jameson in advance.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Poem of the Week : Going Places

Our 16th Poem of the Week is one by a Junior Certificate pupil, Amelia Shirley, another in the series called Going Places from Liam Canning's class, which we started a couple of days ago. Her response to Billy Collins's 'Walking Across the Atlantic' is :

Going Places, by Amelia Shirley

Sitting in the back seat of the car,
The world outside becomes a blur
Of colours messing with my eyes.

This road seems familiar,
These woods, this side of the valley,
I’ve been here before,
A long time ago, perhaps.

As we swerve round the corner,
Old Barry’s pub appears ahead,
The field belonging to the Fosters becomes clear.

Mother looks back and smiles at me,
As if reading my blank expression,
As the happiness it was.
We’re going home.

As usual, this poem is currently being displayed around the school.

Finally, here are the other poems from the project, by Jasper Pickersgill, Daphne Wright, Rob Nolan and Igor Verkhovskiy.


We welcome today to the College Ms Mary Gilbride, from the Department of Education and Science Inspectorate, who is conducting a subject inspection of our Department. Subject inspection reports are now being published online by the Department here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dancing at Lughnasa review

Our production of Dancing at Lughnasa was a great success in mid-November, and here is V former Katie Murphy's review of it (an exceptional performance, which couldn’t have been done better by professionals).

She writes about each of the eight performers (pictured, bottom centre, having a late-night pizza after the dress rehearsal)-

  • Ellie Russell as Maggie Mundy : whose wit and saucy side got everyone's attention.
  • Dylan Stewart as Father Jack : His performance was exceptional. He portrayed the difficulty of returning to normal life after such an eventful, and life-changing experience perfectly.
  • Oscar Nunan as Gerry Evans : we went from dislike, at his abandonment of his child, to like, for entertaining Christina and the audience with his quick wit and funny stories, and back to dislike, at the discovery of his other family. Oscar played this part beautifully: he was an all-singing all-dancing ball of laughs who charmed the ladies on and off the stage!
  • Jessica Young as Chrissie : she showed the bursts of sunshine that his visits were to her, and her quiet frustration at his flirtatious behaviour with her sisters, especially Agnes, brilliantly. She had a very romantic part and did it proud.
  • Annabel Sharma as Agnes : Annabel showed Agnes’s sweet and patient nature towards Rose very well. Her jealousy of Christina and Gerry’s love was quite apparent, in undercurrents.
  • Rory Quinn as the narrator, Michael : It was incredibly well done how they showed him, on the stage; he was never part of the action but always at the centre of the plot. It never occurred to you that he wasn’t really there, that he just wasn’t out of sight too low for us to see or outside the window playing.
  • Rachael Roden as Rose : showed no shame in her portrayal of Rose: she shouted and sang at the top of her voice and even ran away with a local boy. She was truly wonderful, and deeply saddened all our hearts when she and Aggie ran away.
  • Celeste Guinness as Kate : played the part superbly. She was the stereotypical strict schoolteacher, with her crisp manner, prim clothes and harsh tongue. We knew exactly what her character would be before she even opened her mouth.
Read Katie's full review here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Wave, Knife Edge, Lirael

Continuing our series of book reports by Junior Certificate pupils, here is Philip Blackley's essay comparing three more books : Morton Rhue's The Wave, Garth Nix's Lirael, and Malorie Blackman's Knife Edge.

He writes about the latter :-

Knife Edge is the sequel to the novel Noughts and Crosses. It is a novel about an environment where two races are pretty much at war with each other. It is a futuristic view where black people (Crosses) are the upper class and white people (Noughts) are the lower class. It shows how the two races are distinguished from one another and how they relate to each other. Knife Edge is about two people from different backgrounds who live their lives in a hostile environment.

Philip liked Lirael best of the three, and writes : I liked this book the most out of the three as it held my interest the most and I read it the quickest.

Read the rest of his report here.

Malorie Blackman's website is here, and Garth Nix's here.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Going Places 1

Our most recent Poem of the Week, Billy Collins's 'Walking across the Atlantic', has been used in class by both Ronan Swift, who shared the animations on the Billy Collins Action Poet site with his Primary set, and Liam Canning, whose III form Junior Certificate pupils responded to 'Atlantic' by writing their own poems about 'Going Places.' We'll post some of these over the next couple of days.

Going Places, by Ji-won Lee

Red, orange, yellow, green,
Blue, indigo, violet.
The rainbow spans the mountain.
I wanted to put those seven colours
in my pocket and my heart,
something like a desire to possess.

I put up my hand and wriggled my five fingers.
But I couldn’t catch those colours.
Because it was too far away.
I ran and ran to get beside it.
I ran and looked up to the sky,
It was much more far away and
It started to disappear slowly.

Now I have lost my place to go.

Going Places, by Jessica Sheil

“Where are we going?”
“A place.”
The doors slammed shut.
Unfortunately I knew where I was going, but I wasn’t
Quite sure what would happen.
I wondered if I was going to my death.
I’m not afraid of death, I believe,
But I am afraid of pain.
They could take him away.

If they took him I could kill myself,
But it would seem almost unreasonable
To take my life so willingly when everyone
Else is trying their best to stay alive.

The doors opened and revealed light
And fresh air.
I was pushed out and handed my striped uniform
With a yellow star neatly sewn on.
There was a slight smirk on the man’s face
As they took him away.

They took him away…

Maths Department

Congratulations to our colleagues in the SCC Maths Department, who have gone live with their own website here. It includes a description of the department, 'cool links', the history of the subject, games and much more.

Sunday, December 02, 2007


Our Classics Department colleague Peter McCarthy has just selected the cast for next term's Junior Play, Sophocles's Antigone (we have sometimes used this for the comparative module of the Leaving Certificate in the past) :

Creon - Robin Fitzpatrick
Eurydice - Sophie Kyd-Rebenburg
Haemon - Jasper Pickersgill
Antigone - Anna Traill
Ismene - Alannah Howie
Tiresias - Sebastian Stephenson
Messenger - Patrick Tice
Guard - Fred Mann
Citizen - Kate Haslett
Chorus - Opeline Kellett and Gina Mirow.

Anna Traill, who plays the title role, wrote about her involvement in the Tenderfoot Drama Programme here a couple of days ago. More on the production next term.

Ronan Swift, Live in Concert

A shameless plug for the most versatile member of our multi-talented English Department : Ronan Swift performs at Bewley's Cafe Theatre on Wednesday next, December 5th, from 8.30pm. Tickets €10 at the door.

[Ronan Swift – acoustic guitar / vocals. Josh Johnston – piano / vocals. Eoin O'Brien – Electric Guitar / Vocals. Bill Blackmore – Trumpet.]

In the words of his publicity agent :

Swifty is an Autumn man. But by now it is Winter and although past his very best he is still worth a flutter. Leaf fall is general across Ireland. Breezes push and shove flimsy birds to distant parishes. As they are buffeted they sing, so does Swifty.

[added April 2009 : see here for a podcast interview with Ronan about his 2009 album, Farewell Future Wives]

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tenderfoot Drama Programme

For the last few weeks, five members of our Transition Year have been taking part in the Tenderfoot Programme at the Civic Theatre in Tallaght. One of them, Anna Traill, here describes the experience :-

Tenderfoot is a Transition Year programme that Veronica Coburn has set up for young students interested in different aspects of the theatre. We've been doing it for a few weeks already, and everyone's really enjoying it. We've learnt about acting and speaking, set design, costume design, lighting and sound.

Five of us were picked from our TY: Fiona Boyd, Molly Sanderson, Lauren Cooke, Sarah O'Mahony and me. Fiona and Molly started before the rest of us and wrote the plays. Molly's play Nobody was picked to be produced. We've met loads of different people, with loads of different backgrounds, and although it's a lot of work, it's so much fun.

The plays are being produced on December 13th, 14th and 15th, at the end of term, and we're all really excited. We also went to see a play,
Danti-Dan by Gina Moxley, which was an incredible experience, and it gave us a great idea of what theatre's supposed to be like.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Frank, Boyne, Ure

Our second in the series of fine Junior Certificate book reports is from Sophie Millar, who has written this excellent review and comparison of three books - the current international bestseller The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (pictured), Anne Frank's Diary, and Jean Ure's Plague 99.

She writes about the first book,
This terrific heart-breaking novel is very thought-provoking. Told through Bruno’s eyes, it covers some of the most serious political matters incredibly light-heartedly and innocently. It distresses and depresses the reader.

Sophie's full book report is here. John Boyne's website is here.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Junior Certificate Book Reports 1

Our III form have just completed their book reports, which form part of their end of term examination results. Winta Bairu wrote about three books of fiction - Stone Cold, by Robert Swindells, and The Friendship and Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, both by Mildred D.Taylor. She says about Swindells's novel :-

This book demonstrates the struggles, pain and desperation of the homeless and it influences you to stop just listening to the issues and do something about it. I admire the way the story line continues rising, without losing interest, until there is a huge climactic ending where you wonder what happened to Link. The overall message of this book was, don't judge someone by their looks or how rich they are. The ending happens so quickly but it is so vivid that you get so caught up in it and you don't want the book to end.

Read her full detailed book report here.

English Prizes

The annual Senior and Junior English Prizes are being held tomorrow, Friday, from 6.30 pm. Seniors go to Cotton, Juniors to Elrington. Candidates should give their names to their teachers by Friday breaktime. The Senior paper consists of two prose extracts for comparison, two poems for comparison, and a general essay on the nature of literature. The Junior paper gives two poems for discussion and comparison, and then a prose composition (in any form) based on an idea from these poems. As with all subjects, the prizes will be book tokens for the purchase of suitable books, which will be presented at the prizegiving on St Columba's Day.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Selfish Giant

Every now and then the Chaplain invites members of the English Department to speak in Chapel about their interests. Earlier this term, Ronan Swift talked about his reading, and sang about this too. This morning, John Fanagan read Oscar Wilde's 'The Selfish Giant' from the copy he received as a present at Christmas 1967, and talked about our love of listening to stories, which is deep inside many of us from childhood. Wilde wrote the piece for his own sons. The full text of the memorable story is here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Walking Across the Atlantic

Our 15th Poem of the Week is 'Walking Across the Atlantic', by the former American Poet Laureate Billy Collins. Below, a YouTube video animation by Mike Stolz, with Collins himself reading the poem in his characteristically dry gentle way. You can see 10 other charming animations with readings by Collins at this site, BCActionPoet, including 'Budapest' , 'The Best Cigarette' and 'Today'.

Friday, November 23, 2007


This has been a quietish week for the blog, since exams are on. They finish at lunchtime today, after which we have a weekend Exodus. School begins again on Tuesday, after which we'll start posting lots of material by Transition Year pupils (Extended Essays) and junior forms (book reports).

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Vernon Scannell

We're not displaying a Poem of this Week around the school this week, since there are no classes, with all our pupils deep in their exams (normal activity resumes next week), but mention should be made of the fine underrated poet Vernon Scannell, who has just died, aged 85. Scannell's poems such as 'Nettles' and 'Uncle Edward's Afflictions' appear in many school poetry anthologies. Alan Brownjohn's obituary in the Guardian is here, where he writes about Scannell's fastidious procedure as a poet, his unflinching focus on the age-old themes of love, war and death, his concern for 'a real involvement with living experience'. Craft and care, and for that matter clarity and accessibility, were unquestionable necessities if you were serious about the art.

Here's a poem from the 1965 collection Epithets of War :-


begins slowly, uncertain of
its terminus, but after
the first hesitancies,
destination still hidden,
the pace increases, grows more sure
though with a confidence
that will not be for long sustained
when it becomes apparent
that movement is towards
not revelation or release
but a darkness darker far
than any known midnight,
dungeon, tunnel, desperation,
and all sentences must end
with an abrupt full-stop,
punched in like a nail, its black head
showing on the page, like this.

added later : link to Simon Jenkins's tribute in the Guardian, 23.11.07. Jenkins was taught by Scannell in prep school, and writes -
So remember, all you drifting, drinking, despairing, self-demeaning schoolmasters. Hidden at the back of your class, pretending to be sullen and resistant, is a boy in whose imagination lurks unknown a spark waiting to be blown to flame. Scannell was even better than a good poet. He could teach.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Our production of Dancing at Lughnasa is now over, after three very successful nights in the Big Schoolroom. Pictured - the cast and directors on stage. We'll have a review by a pupil here in due course.

This week our focus is on school exams. Next week we'll be posting a considerable amount of work by pupils in IV and III, as we did this time last year : our Transition Year have just completed their Extended Essays, which will now be marked, and III form (Junior Certificate) pupils have also completed their major Book Reports, and again many of these will posted here after marking.

In the last weeks of term, we also hold our Senior and Junior English Prize competitions.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Agnes Mundy

Annabel Sharma (second from right, in the dress rehearsal last night, beside Celeste Guinness, Ellie Russell and Jessica Young) plays the part of Agnes Mundy in our production of Dancing at Lughnasa (preview tonight). She writes :

In the beginning I wasn't sure about Agnes as she is quite a reticent character. I must admit that I have found this quite hard to portray as an actor, since more often than not, her silences are a consequence of deep thought. I find that one of the most challenging aspects is Agnes's standing : she doesn't have very much self-esteem, but yet does have enough to stand up to Kate (continued).

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Christina Mundy

Jessica Young is playing the part of Chris Mundy in Dancing at Lughnasa (dress rehearsal tonight, preview tomorrow night). Pictured, Gerry (Oscar Nunan) proposes to her. She writes :

She has been a fun, and at the same time challenging, character, to play because she is clearly in love with Gerry and yet is guarded around him. She never lets him get too close, although she seems to want this. (full piece here)

Siren Song

Our 14th Poem of the Week was suggested by teacher Suzanne McEneaney. Margaret Atwood's 'Siren Song' (full text here, where you can also listen to her read the poem) starts -

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible ...

Atwood explains on the Poetry Archive site :-

The Sirens had the top halves of women and the bottom halves of birds and they were said to sit on their island and sing so beautifully that anybody who heard them would jump overboard and then they would eat these men. Ulysses was said to have been the only person who ever actually heard the siren song because he made his sailors stuff their ears with wax and he had them tie him to the mast so he wouldn’t jump overboard. But he never told what it was they actually sang, and therefore nobody has ever known. So this is what they actually did sing.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Maggie Mundy

The third of our pieces by actors playing parts in this week's Senior Play, Dancing at Lughnasa, is by Ellie Russell, who is performing as Maggie Mundy, the heart of the family that Brian Friel has created :-

Of all the characters, Maggie is my favourite. She has such a big personality ... Acting the role is a challenging one, but also really enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to being able finally to perform the whole play.

(full piece here).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Michael Evans

Continuing our series of pieces by actors playing parts in next week's production of Dancing at Lughnasa, Rory Quinn, who plays the narrator Michael, writes about him. The production poster, now being displayed all over the school, is by Greg Howie.

Rory writes :
as we learn from his final monologue, everyone in the memory seems to be dancing, floating on the sweet sound of 30s music.

Full piece here.

Friday, November 09, 2007

'To Autumn' responses

We recently used Keats's great Ode 'To Autumn' as our Poem of the Week around the school. Liam Canning's Junior Certificate class wrote responses to this, and here are two : by Jessica Sheil and Jasper Pickersgill (since half-term winds have started to strip the beautiful leaves from the many trees around the College).

Jessica writes, in her piece 'Autumn - a painting' :-

There was an autumnal feel to the air and the view was so perfect you could almost swear you were in a painting, except it would be almost impossible to get so many different shades of greens and yellows and browns and reds into one picture.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Ireland's Other Poetry

Old Columban John Wyse Jackson, together with artist Hector McDonnell, is launching their new book Ireland's Other Poetry - Anonymous to Zozimus on Wednesday 14th at the Solomon Gallery in Dublin. It is published by the fine Lilliput Press. The website/blog for the book is here. John writes :-

You may reasonably protest that the good poets of Ireland are well known enough already. This may be true in the case of the so-called 'serious' ones - WB Yeats and Seamus Heaney being prime examples. But if on one side of the Irish literary fence these Famous Poets are preaching to their adoring public, on the other side, peering at them curiously, there is a ragged army of Anonymous Balladeers, Parodists, Stage Lyricists, Gifted Children, Comic Rhymesters, Advertising Copywriters, Poetasters, Academics, Rock Singers, Bards and Miscellaneous Versifiers. These neglected unfortunates, most of whom haven't got a public at all, are our ‘Other Poets’; Ireland's Other Poetry was put together to give them a home.

Gerry Evans

Here's the first of a series of pieces by the actors playing parts in our Senior Play at the end of next week, Dancing at Lughnasa by Brian Friel. Oscar Nunan, new to the school this term, is playing Gerry Evans, the father of the narrator Michael, and occasional visitor to Ballybeg and the Mundy sisters. He writes :-

I play the character Gerry, the eccentric Welsh salesman. Gerry is important as he balances the other characters and injects liveliness and 'punch' into the play. Although maybe not completely honest, he is an undeniably likeable character, who keeps up the tempo of the play and adds humour and wit. He is an element of comic relief from the tense domestic atmosphere. [full piece here]

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Manhunt

For the latest Poem of the Week, we return to the author of our first one last term, 'The Catch'. In the Sunday Times, Simon Armitage this week wrote (here) a piece called 'Battlefield Salvos', about his experience of talking to those traumatised by war for a Channel 4 documentary (C4, 12.11.07, 10pm) :-

Forgotten Heroes: The Not Dead is a war film. It’s about returning soldiers. And, in keeping with the time-honoured and dignified tradition of war poetry, the mode of expression is verse ... the last word comes not from a man but from Laura, Eddie’s wife. Tracing the scar of a bullet that took away part of her husband’s face, then continued pin-balling through his body, grazing his heart along the way, she describes the slow and sometimes painful process of trying to reach him, touch him, love him and make him human again.

So this is both a war poem, and a moving love poem. Read it here.


Our good wishes go to a previous contributor to our blog, former pupil Ben Russell, who tonight and tomorrow night makes his opera debut at the Cork Opera House in a version of Gluck's Orpheus from Opera Works.

In their words :-
A celebration of young talent, the production will feature the Cork Children’s Chorus, exciting new discovery nineteen year old Benjamin Russell in the title role, while Euridice, normally a soprano, will be performed by young Irish Ballet sensation, Jane Magan.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Shakespeare MP3 Project

As we return from our half-term break, sincere thanks from the English Department and the Library to our Mathematics colleague (and Shakespeare fanatic) Noel Coldrick, who has put an immense amount of work into transferring old recordings of Shakespeare's works into digital form, so that (in our laptop- and Ipod-enabled world), pupils and staff can access this more easily.

The display case in the Library is now showing a sample of his work, which is explained here by the man himself in his article for the forthcoming Library magazine, The Submarine :

To preserve these recordings, particularly the older more fragile tapes, a joint project was setup between the library and the SCC Shakespeare Society to transfer the material to MP3 CDs. By moving to MP3 format we also make the recordings more accessible to pupils who can now listen to plays they are studying on their Ipods.

The new MP3 collection has over 60 MP3 CDs covering over 200 hours of recordings, and in addition to the plays contains the Sonnets and the Narrative poems, Pearson’s
Life of Shakespeare, various compilations of famous scenes and soliloquies and old archive recordings.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Kite Runner

Many thanks to our friend Terry O'Malley, who has sent in pictures and material relating to Khaled Hosseini's bestselling novel The Kite Runner, recently recommended here by TY pupil Mark Kavanagh who has read it for his Extended Essay. Above, an Animoto video of some of the pictures Terry took on a visit to Afghanistan, as Chair of the Irish aid organisation SAFE (Support for Afghan Further Education). On a recent visit in August, Terry had a lucky escape in an ambush in which two people were killed. (The music on the video is 'Spaceman' by The Lift).

He visited Noor Agha (whose house is near the two Sufi graveyards as pictured) and took pictures of some of his vivid kites. The string is impregnated with powdered glass ...

See more about the background in these two articles. See also a Time Magazine article here.

We're now starting half-term, so posting will resume on our return, from Monday 5th November.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Review of 'The History Boys'

Recently, our Transition Year all went to the National Theatre production of Alan Bennett's play The History Boys, in the Olympia Theatre as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. Here is a comprehensive review of the play and the production, by Fiona Boyd :-

Over all the play was a success. I really enjoyed watching it and seeing the characters and storyline develop. I enjoyed the different uses of music and images which made the play much more interesting to watch, giving it a little bit more rhythm and pace. I thought it was really well acted. I felt the actor who played Irwin was holding back a little but that may have just been how he interpreted the character. I thought the schoolboys were acted really well and even though they didn’t look 17 at a first glance they acted it!

Read Fiona's full review here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

To Autumn

The last Poem of the Week before our half-term starts on Friday is the most famous and anthologised of all poems about this time of year, John Keats's 'To Autumn' :

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy

Full text here. See the John Keats Forum here. Pictured, a couple of views of the College. The trees around the grounds are really stunning at the moment.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Haddon, Plath, Lynch

Further TY Extended Essay recommendations :-

Poppy Vernon has read the latest novel by Mark Haddon, A Spot of Bother : 'I really enjoyed reading this book. It has a wonderful style - it is humorous but also matter of fact. It is based on a family who are slowly falling to pieces: mother, father, daughter, her fiance and her child. The parents are unhappy about their rather unreliable daughter getting married, because they feel he is not good enough, but slowly realise that their own marriage is falling apart. Meanwhile, outside all the mayhem of affairs and arguments, the husband is slowly going mad.'

One of Fiona Boyd's books is Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar : 'I really enjoyed the beginning of this book, but it got a bit boring and slow towards the middle. The main character is a young woman who is troubled, but is very interesting and intelligent. She sees right through people's phoniness, and his a unique way of looking at the world. I like the style as it is very poetic.'

Henry Hatton has read Chris Lynch's Inexcusable : 'This is a story about a boy called Kier, who has very bad luck. He lives an ordinary decent life, and is very mannerly and trusting. He has a crush - a crush which is one-way. This book is about the unfortunate events which follow; it opens your mind about how monstrous a normal person can be. It gives Kier's thoughts in his ordinary life, in school, on the pitch and at home. When you read one chapter, you find that the next is totally different, and I think that makes reading it more enjoyable. Kier is a great character, and when reading, it is like you have a telescope and are looking into his thoughts. It is a truly great story.'