Thursday, December 10, 2020

Books of the Year 2020

The annual (since 2010) list of best Books of the Year recommendations has now moved, this year, here.

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

The Submarine, December 2020


This term’s edition of The Submarine magazine has now been published, and you can read it here online. Well done to editors Avi Johnston and Edna Johnston.

Pupil contributors (both writers and artists) include Maybelle Rainey, Alexander Fought, Sveva Ciofani, India Hassett, Julia Kaptein, Archie McKeever, Carlotta Laudien, Florian Zitzmann, Eliot Tschierschwitz, Georgina Stewart, Eliz Kolat, Shannon Walker Kinsella, Aeladh-Bradley-Brady, Hedley Butler, Gloria Rose, Lola Garofano and Tita Schack.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

'King Lear' quotations: Act 5

The fourth of a series to help learn and think about quotations, and to use as retrieval practice.

Try to remember the missing word in the definition flashcard, and then click to see the answer and some comments. Set the card to show definition first, and in flashcard mode. 

Sunday, October 04, 2020

'King Lear' quotations, Act 4

The fourth of a series to help learn and think about quotations, and to use as retrieval practice.

Try to remember the missing word in the definition flashcard, and then click to see the answer and some comments. Set the card to show definition first, and in flashcard mode. 

'King Lear' quotations, Act 3

The third of a series to help learn and think about quotations, and to use as retrieval practice. Try to remember the missing word in the definition flashcard, and then click to see the answer and some comments.

Set the card to show definition first, and in flashcard mode. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

'King Lear' quotation Quizlets: Act 2

The second of a series to help learn and think about quotations, and to use as retrieval practice. Try to remember the missing word in the definition flashcard, and then click to see the answer and some comments.

 Set the card to show definition first, and in flashcard mode. 

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

'King Lear' quotation Quizlets: Act 1

The first of a series to help learn and think about quotations, and to use as retrieval practice. Try to remember the missing word in the definition flashcard, and then click to see the answer and some comments.

 Set the card to show definition first, and in flashcard mode.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

More Junior Poetry Prize entries

Here are two more poems from candidates from the recent Junior Poetry Prize.

'Too Far To Say Goodbye' by Marco Trolese

Too far to say goodbye 

But never too far to feel it. 

As soon as the news came in——

it was like I’d been stabbed in the heart

A piece of me had died. 

The trees outside blossomed while the pollen swayed in the summer's breeze. 

Inside there was stone cold silence. Hearing someone's breath was like a megaphone being put to your ear. 

Whether he was in the garage fixing his MG or in the garden, everything was an adventure to him. Always making me dust myself off, after a trip to the beach before getting back into his brightly polished Volkswagen polo.


He reminds me of a river. 

As he flows away on his next journey, his memories will last forever 

A candle describes his life, when lit he was born and kept shining even in the darkest hour until finally blown out softly. 

Everyday him watching over me, keeps me going 

Trying to be a better person each day, 

Trying to make him proud 

I love you grandad 

Too far to say goodbye 

'Summer' by Yilong She

out with spring calling onto summer,

chill of the weary clouds into

the clear azure skies,

waves of searing heat 

clashing against the golden radiant lights

buds blossoming,

fugitives of the wild flaunting in the day;

trees swaying in the whooshing wind

dancing to the mockingbirds’ calls

yet, what creature of land could 

grasp the heavenly divinity of 


having eyes to see, but

blinded by the glistening rays of white and silver

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry 2020

Congratulations to Tania Stokes, who has again won the Senior Poetry Prize, named after Old Columban Peter Dix, who was killed in the Lockerbie bombing in 1988. The sculpture marking the prize is kept in the Library, and inscribed with the names of past winners.

Here are two of her winning poems.

‘The Lockdown Dichotomy'

The neighbourhood felt like a meadow
And I was a wandering sprite,
Bending my eye on the tiniest blooms
With a pioneer's sense of delight.
I skipped in the middle of glistening roads,
Chasing them into the haze—
Each time they would roll off the end of the world
So I wandered their length with my gaze.

Then bustling into the vacuous forum
I wondered at how all was still...
But a revenant cloud must have stirred overhead
When the quiet was cast in a chill:

The sun trickled off from the windows above;
Shadows around became cold;
Loneliness sucked at my heels like mud;
The strangeness was made manifold.

I slunk away from that desolate scene,
Headed for hearth and home.
But ever I saw the streets in a shroud,
This cold, unwavering gloam.


‘Shadow Stream’ By Tania Stokes

On quiet nights there is a shadow stream,
A well-kept secret sneaking between lines
Of forgotten cottages, fleet as time.
By day it runs right beneath our noses,
So obtuse is the prattle of traffic
Bridging the fisherman's subtle angle.
But now, being fettered and infested,
Driving home at night is no one's business.
Once more the silence of antiquity
Sits in the dry, grey hours after dusk
And from crepuscular halftones issues
The shadow stream, as smooth as worry stones.
Water like a cut of silk softly folds
Over pebbles, pooling in crevices,
Slipping beyond knowing under the bridge.
Down here, down in the darkling river bed,
Where the hush goes deeper than the water
And is just as clear, the susurration
Of a lone heron lifting off upstream
Nestles in the ear as a close sound might,
Nearer to the low snuffling of shrews...
Few are the patrons of the shadow stream:
Even as this town's sleep begins to thaw,
The waters bending to their fading realm,
The number of them dwindles, growing thin,
Until the stream is lost to memory
And once more is a shadow in the din.


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Voices of Poetry 2020

In 2020, the annual Voices of Poetry evening moved online. Normally, we would be round a single spotlight in the Big Schoolroom listening to words in different languages from all over the world. This time, words were sent from all over the world in, to be gathered virtually in this recording. Many thanks to Mr Swift for putting it all together.
Poems and readers: 

  • Mr Canning - Spring by Gerard Manley Hopkins 
  • Mrs Boobbyer - When by John O’Donnell 
  • Phoebe Grennell (Form V) - What If 2020 Isn’t Cancelled by Leslie Dwight 
  • Sveva Ciofani (Form V) - A Zacinto by Ugo Foscolo (Italian) 
  • Peter zu Bentheim - Nemzeti Dal by Sandor Petofi (Hungarian)  
  • Mr Finn - Ozymandias by Percy Shelley 
  • Cameron McKinley (Form II) - Not Waving But Drowning by Stevie Smith 
  • Orrin Bradley Brady (Form IV)  - The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost 
  • Emily McCarthy (Form III) - from Virgil’s Aeneid, Book IV (Latin) 
  • Mr Brett - In Memory of WB Yeats by WH Auden 
  • Mr Crombie - The Child is Not Dead by Ingrid Jonker 
  • Mr Cron - Soldier’s Poem of Salvation from Ravi Zakarias 
  • Naoise Murray (Form II) -  Patch Seanin by JM Synge 
  • Ms Lynch - Faoiseamh a Gheobhadsa by Martin O’Direain 
  • Megan Bulbulia (Senior Prefect) - An Irish Airman Foresees His Death by WB Yeats 
  • Phoebe Landseer (Form II) - Maj by Karel Hynek Mácha (Czech) 
  • Dr Pyz -  Proba by Wislawa Szymborska (Polish) 
  • Elise Williams (Form V) - Let America Be America Again by Langston Hughes 
  • Vivian Tuite (Form II) There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale 
  • Mr Girdham - A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson 
  • Alex O’Herlihy - He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven by WB Yeats

Willis Memorial Prize for Shakespeare 2020

Congratulations to Eliza Somerville, winner of this year's Willis Memorial Prize for Shakespeare, and to Sinead Cleary and Shannon Dent, who were awarded Commendations for their entries. In addition, Fourth Formers Marcus O'Connor and Oscar Sternberg gained Distinctions with fine entries from Fourth Form.

The paper asked candidates to consider the tricky complex Sonnet 71 ('No longer mourn for me when I am dead') and then the 'memorability' of the plays. Candidates ranged widely across Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice and Julius Caesar. Thanks and well done to all who entered, especially in these 'distanced' days. But Shakespeare draws us together...

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

The Submarine, June 2020

Well done to all those who contributed to the final edition of The Submarine for this academic year: click here to access and download a copy.
First Formers Rory O’Dowd, Hal Somerville and Alexander Fought write about their grandparents.  Fifth Former Maybelle Rainey  reports on forest fires in the Hortland Bog in North Kildare and Hugo Dunlop (Fourth Form) asks whether humanity’s aspiration to do justice at Nuremberg has been fulfilled. We also hear what some of our pupils got up to during ‘lockdown’ and about their plans now that lockdown has been lifted. There are poems from Isabella Treacy (II) and Marco Trolese (III) and an abundance of art-work from Third Formers Zofia Cannon-Brookes, Kate Higgins, Isabel Warnock and Pavlov Shavlov,  as well as Fourth Formers, Cadhla McGuinness and Iona Chavasse and Fifth Formers Arizona Ford and Ana Junquera, among others.

Junior Poetry Prize 2020

Congratulations to Hannah Swanepoel, who has been awarded this year's Junior Poetry Prize. Here is her poem 'The Spiral' (we will publish more entries in the coming days).

The Spiral
Ever fleeting, ever present
Can you feel it?
It is the movement of night to day,
The rebirth of spring to winter,
The continuation of the cycle of life

And yet change is also subtle,
Its deft hand ever present
working its way through the mortal maze
It is there when a person takes their first breath,
to their final
When flowers lift their weary heads
to herald the coming of spring
after the deathless slumber of winter,
And when you take your last breath
change will be there,
freeing you from the spiral that is life.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Summer Reading

There is no more important thing you can do to improve in English than read widely (it has a powerful positive impact on all other subjects, too). 

Set yourself a realistic target of the number of books you plan to read over the summer, and create a list.

Here are some pointers:

Ms Kent-Sutton, Librarian, has lots of great suggestions here. Note that it is easy to sign up online to Libraries Ireland and access free e-books, audiobooks and magazines/newspapers.

You can also use a Library card (see above) to discover handy book recommendations

A similar site is What Should I Read Next?

There are also lots of ways to discover books on Good Reads.

Five Books is an outstanding site, particularly for Senior pupils, with recommendations from experts in so many areas. If you are already thinking of what third-level course you are interested in, this is particularly good.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Roger & Gallet

At the 'socially-distanced' Chapel service yesterday (attended by 8 resident staff), Mr Swift 
(compère of Voices of Poetry' introduced and then read his own poem 'Roger & Gallet'.

Roger & Gallet

Our sense of smell trumps all the others, they say,
For transporting us back through time,
To places (or people) that we sniffed unconsciously
Lifetimes ago.
Deep heat and the rugby changing rooms
Linseed oil on a cricket bat and our uncle’s antique workshop...
Brown bread baking.

I’d like to believe both you and I were fairly inoffensive
To nostrils passing near us.
We can’t take too much credit though
For something in the genes.
And we had some foreign helpers too,
Some continental styling down the years -
Acqua di Parma, Heno de Pravia, Hermes et al.
I even used Brut in the very late ‘80s
But you had better taste, even way back then.

One August day in 2016 we met by chance
On the Glasthule High Street!
I had emerged from The 64
With the glow of 40 Foot and coffee,
You were there to collect a prescription -
So we went to see the apothecary.
Pharmacy fragrances mingled in Glennon’s
As a cocktail of reassurance.

Soon you were adding a bottle
Of Roger & Gallet cologne
Onto your list of purchases,
And pressing it into my hand
Saying, ‘This is your favourite one, isn’t it?’

That bottle’s long finished but I have returned
To Glennon’s chemist since,
I’ve made myself known as your brother to Martha,
And replenished that favourite scent.

Now each morning several citrus sprays of French cologne
Call forth the memory of your welcoming self -
By a window, offering tea.
And the house smells grand,
With a still warm loaf cooling in the foreground.

June 5th, 2019

Friday, April 24, 2020

William Wordsworth revision

Here’s a Quizlet set for those preparing Wordsworth for the Leaving Certificate. Even if you’re not learning these quotations, they should prompt thoughts about key ideas in the poems. The reverse ‘answer’ side includes brief comments on significance. The main thing: use the quotations for thinking purposes.

(Technical instructions: at the top right of the Quizlet, click the icon for Options, and make sure you choose Answer with Definition. Click Flashcard from Choose a Study Mode at the bottom right, and if necessary the arrows-icon just above it to start on the question side of the card.)

Tuesday, April 07, 2020


Our Librarian, Ms Kent-Sutton, has advice for all pupils and parents about reading now. Many pupils have a great opportunity to deepen and extend their reading both for academic reasons and pleasure.

Note that e-books are available on several platforms (including BorrowBox - see below), and Amazon's Kindle app can be downloaded for free on all devices (you do not need a physical Kindle). Many classic books are free.

First of all, visit Libraries Ireland who have relaxed their joining policies for the duration of the shutdown. Anyone can join and get immediate free access to their online services with their virtual library card: you need to download some free apps. The Borrowbox app will allow access to audio and ebooks. RB Digital is superb for comics books and graphic novels; the quality of the illustrations is not lost. They also do audio books. And finally in PressReader there is unlimited access to daily newspapers by country.

The Carnegie Medal is always excellent at highlighting the best of YA fiction for the year, and the 2020 shortlist is here. Each title on the list gives an age rating so pupils can access their appropriate level.

The Bookseller also has a Young Adult Book Prize shortlist.

If pupils/parents are looking for a challenge they could try the 16 Before 16 Reading Challenge. Pupils attempt to read 16 "classics" before they turn 16. A sample list is below, which is definitely not exhaustive but a rough guide.
  • I Know why the Caged Bird Sings- Maya Angelou
  • Wuthering Heights- Emily Bronte
  • Misery- Stephen King
  • To Kill a Mockingbird- Harper Lee
  • The Catcher in the Rye- J. D. Salinger
  • The Outsiders- S. E. Hinton
  • Frankenstein- Mary Shelley
  • 1984- George Orwell
  • The Crucible- Arthur Miller
  • Great Expectations-Charles Dickens
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland- C.S. Lewis
  • Brave New World- Aldous Huxley
  • Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude- Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Never Let Me Go- Kazou Ishiguro
  • Atonement-Ian McEwan
  • All Quiet on the Western Front-Erich Maria Remarque
  • Cider with Rosie- Laurie Lee
  • Schindler's Ark- Thomas Keneally
  • I Capture the Castle- Dodie Smith

Next, a list of some time-tested series:-
  • The Mortal Instruments- Cassandra Clare
  • Chaos Walking- Patrick Ness
  • Noughts and Crosses- Malorie Blackman
  • Throne of Glass-Sarah J Maas
  • Gone- Michael Grant
  • The Raven Cycle- Maggie Stiefvater
  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before- Jenny Han
  • His Dark Materials- Philip Pullman
  • Uglies- Scott Westerfield
  • Abhorsen-Garth Nix
  • Lorien Legacies- James Frey
  • Shatter Me- Tahereh Mafi
  • Cirque Du Freak-Darren Shan
  • Artemis Fowl- Eoin Colfer
  • Young Bond-Charlie Higson
Some notable new releases in the next month, with potential for these to be big summer reads...
  • The Kingdom of the Back-Marie Lu
  • The Enigma Game- Elizabeth Wein
  • Clap When you Land- Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Hunger Games prequel) - Suzanne Collins
And lastly, the following books have been adapted to films (some Netflix) and due for release before the end of the year:-
  • Dune- Frank Herbert
  • The Secret Garden- Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Artemis Fowl- Eoin Colfer
  • There's Someone Inside Your House- Stephanie Perkins (Netflix)
  • Death on The Nile- Agatha Christie
  • The Stand- Stephen King
  • Rebecca- Daphne Du Maurier (Netflix)
Time have a list of the best 100 Young Adult Books of All Time if anyone wants to attempt to read all 100!
Goodreads is pretty reliable for suggestions by genre and for suggesting titles/series.