Tuesday, August 30, 2016

English 2018

For the third year in a row we are publishing our own Leaving Certificate textbook incorporating one of the comparative texts. This is the latest in a series of books published by the Department using the terrific self-publishing service from Lulu.com. A hat-tip again to the very generous Ian Johnston for his pellucid translation of Antigone. Ian is Research Associate at Vancouver Island University in Canada.

English 2018, which will be given to Fifth Form pupils at the start of term, includes plenty of other material, including advice about the Leaving Certificate exam (of course) and wider reading. For the first time this year we will be distributing it easily in electronic form using the new Firefly Learning system.

Thanks to Iryna Byshenko, winner of last year's Photography Prize, for the images on both front and back cover (above).

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Simon Lewis is known to some of us through educational and technology circles. But another side is his work as a poet (he won the emerging poetry Hennessy Literary Award last year). Now Doire Press has published his collection Jewtown, and it's well-worth buying. His fine first book of poems takes an interesting angle on a mostly-forgotten episode in Irish history - not Irish immigrants in the USA or England, but the arrival in Cork in the late 19th century of Jews fleeing pogroms in Russia.

In 'Shalom Park' near the end of the collection we see the cyclical nature of immigration. In 'Zedekiah' an immigrant with English loses his purpose as the fruitseller Mazel starts not to need his words any more. In 'Cobbler' the narrator is proud of his expertise in creating a better boot than any 'lousy American'.

Here Simon writes in the Irish Times about his book: "In the five years I have spent creating Jewtown, I’d like to think I have thrown a little bit of light back to a city... I also hope that I’ve managed to convey how any immigrant might feel when they arrive in a new country."

Our Souls at Night

One of the sadnesses of last year was the death at the age of 71 of the American novelist Kent Haruf, author of the Benediction trilogy. As he was dying he wrote Our Souls at Night, a final short novel which is a beautifully-created story of the surprising relationship between two older people, Addie Moore and Louis Waters. Within the relatively few pages Haruf packs the sense of the amplitude of entire lives. It is told in his characteristically understated manner, and its ending is sad, beautifully modulated and deeply moving. Highly recommended.

Here is an interview with his widow Cathy (you can also read the first perfect chapter).

(Apparently Jane Fonda and Robert Redford are playing the parts in a forthcoming Netflix film version: that should take the understatement out of the story).

Leaving Certificate results 2016

Congratulations to our candidates on their results in the Leaving Certificate, which set a new College record of 473 points per person. More details can be read on the College site here.

In English, 88% of our candidates sat the English exam at Higher Level. National %s to follow.

  • 4% of all our candidates achieved an A at Higher Level
  • 9% achieved a B
  • 27% achieved a C (nationally, 27.2% of all candidates).
See previous results by clicking on the years for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.