Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Leaving Certificate Papers 1 and 2

For reviews of the first paper (language) in the Leaving Certificate 2021, go here, and the second (literature) go here.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

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 2021: 'We must stop Covid shutting girls out of school forever' by Malala Yousafzai, Financial Times, April 29th 2021 [pandemic, education]
  2. May 2021: 'Sang culture: how a reluctant Russian singer became the hero of young pessimists across China' by Xiaoning Lu, The Conversation, April 30th 2021 [culture, internet, China].
  3. November 2020: 'Remembrance Day is an exercise in collective amnesia' by Samuel Earle, The Guardian, November 8th 2020 [history, politics, remembrance].
  4. October 2020: 'Is Donald Trump a bully or bold protector? That depends on whom you ask' by Arlie Hochschild, The Guardian, October 10th 2020 [politics, bullying].
  5. October 2020: 'To combat conspiracy theories teach critical thinking – and community' by Thomas Roulet, The Conversation, October 2nd 2020 [conspiracy, social media, education].
  6. September 2020: 'What can we learn about people from their social media?' by Gwendolyn Sideman, Psychology Today, September 21st 2020 [social media, psychology, behaviour].
  7. September 2020: 'Oxford scientists: these are the final steps we're taking to get our coronavirus vaccine approved' by Rebecca Ashfield and Pedro Folegatti, The Conversation, September 8th 2020 [science, vaccines]
  8. February 2020: 'Are First-Borns Really Natural Leaders?' by Clara Sabolova, The Conversation, February 7th [parenting, upbringing, nurture].
  9. January 2020: 'What moral authority does the US have to kill Suleimani?' by Breda O'Brien, The Irish Times, January 11th 2020 [morality, politics, conflict}.
  10. October 2019: 'A psychotherapist explains why some adults are reacting badly to young climate strikers' by Caroline Hickman, The Conversation, October 11th 2019 [climate change, teenagers].
  11. September 2019: 'Curiosity: we're studying the brain to help you harness it' by by Ashvanti Valji and Matthias Gruber, The Conversation, September 13th 2019 [neuroscience, learning].
  12. September 2019: 'A California high school found students' cellphones too distracting, so they're locking the devices up' by Safia Samee Ali, NBC News, August 21st 2019 [education, learning, teenagers, technology].
  13. May 2019: 'How Exercise Affects Our Memory' by Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, May 1st 2019 [exercise, physiology, neuroscience].
  14. January 2019: 'Aviation is the red meat in the greenhouse gas sandwich' by John Gibbons, the Irish Times, January 29th 2019 [environment, aviation].
  15. January 2019: 'Filling the Silence with Digital Noise' by the Nielsen Norman Group, November 18th 2018 [technology, learning].
  16. November 2018: "Window for saving Earth from ecological annihilation closing" by John Gibbons, the Irish Times, October 16th 2018 [ecology, environment].
  17. October 2018: "'Fortnite' teaches the wrong lessons" by Nicholas Tampio, The Conversation, October 12th 2018 [gaming, adolescence, technology]/
  18. October 2018: "Why true horror movies are about more than things going bump in the night" by Aislinn Clarke, The Conversation [film, horror, comedy], October 3rd 2018.
  19. October 2018:  'Is Serena Williams right? A linguist on the extra challenges women face in moments of anger' by Kieran File, The Conversation, September 11th 2018 [women, gender, sport].
  20. September 2018: 'Why you should read this article slowly' by Joe Moran, The Guardian, September 14th 2018 [reading, internet].
  21. September 2018: 'The ideal school would put children's development before league tables' by Sue Roffey, The Conversation, September 17th 2018.
  22. September 2018: 'Another Angle: For the love of God, put down the phones' by Adrian Weckler, Irish Independent, August 20th 2018 [technology, phone].
  23. May 2018: 'Neuroscience is unlocking mysteries of the teenage brain' by Lucy Foulkes, The Conversation, April 23rd 2018 [adolescence, neuroscience].
  24. March 2018: 'The Tyranny of Convenience' by Tim Yu, New York Times, February 16th 2018 [modern life, technology].
  25. February 2018: "The death of reading is threatening the soul" by Philip Yancey, Washington Post, July 21st 2017 [reading, books, internet].
  26. January 2018: 'Why more men are wearing makeup than ever before' by Glen Jankowski, The Conversation, January 15th 2018 [make-up, masculinity].
  27. January 2018: 'Why 2017 was the best year in human history' by Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, January 6, 2018 [history, progress, health].
  28. November 2017: 'Boys must behave if women are to be safe' by Fintan O'Toole, The Irish Times, October 31, 2017.
  29. October 2017: 'A giant insect ecosystem is collapsing due to humans' by Michael McCarthy, The Guardian, October 21, 2017.
  30. October 2017: 'We can't stop mass murder' by Shikha Dalmia, The Week, October 6, 2017.
  31. October 2017: 'What every teacher should know about ... memory' by Bradley Busch, The Guardian, October 6, 2017 [learning, memory, teaching].
  32. October 2017: 'Think the world is in a mess: here are 4 things you can do about it' by Alexandre Christoyannapoulos. The Conversation, November 16, 2016 [activism, citizenship, economics].
  33. September 2017: 'The power of silence in the smartphone age' by Erling Kagge, The Guardian, September 23rd 2017 [technology].
  34. September 2017: '5 reasons why people share fake photos during disasters' by A.J. Willingham,, September 8th 2017 [journalism, psychology, social media].
  35. September 2017: 'Can you identify the psychopaths in your life?' by Rob Hastings, iNews, August 29th 2017 [psychology].
  36. February 2017: 'Our roads are choked. We're on the verge of carmageddon' by George Monbiot, The Guardian, September 20th 2016 [environment, transport].
  37. January 2017: 'Girls believe brilliance is a male trait' by Nicola Davis, The Guardian, January 27th 2017.
  38. January 2017: 'What do teenagers want? Potted plant parents' by Lisa Damour, New York Times, December 14th 2016 [adolescence, parenting].
  39. November 2016: 'Trump makes it easy to vote for Her' by Carl Hiaasen, Miami Herald, November 6th 2016 [politics, America].
  40. October 2016: 'How being alone may be the key to rest' by Claudia Hammond, BBC, September 27th 2016 [rest, reading, introversion].
  41. September 2016: 'Why Parents are Getting Angrier' by Nicola Skinner, The Guardian, September 3rd 2016 [parenting, psychology, childhood].
  42. September 2016: 'Burkini beach ban: must French Muslim women become invisible?' by Delphine Strauss, The Irish Times, August 22nd 2016 [culture, Islam, France].
  43. May 2016: 'How can Lidl sell jeans for £5.99?' by Gethin Chamberlain, The Guardian, March 13th 2016 [economics, retailing, manufacture].
  44. April 2016: 'Teaching men how to be emotionally honest' by Anrew Reiner, New York Times, April 4th 2016 [gender, adolescence, masculinity].
  45. 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].
  46. 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].
  47. January 2016: 'Welcome to the Anthropocene, a new geological era for the world', The Week, January 8th 2016 [geology, climate change, environment].
  48. November 2015: 'Birth Order Determines ... Almost Nothing' by Jeanne Safer, [psychology, parenting, childhood].
  49. November 2015: 'How psychopaths can save your life' by Kevin Dutton, The Observer [psychology].
  50. November 2015: '10 benefits of reading: why you should read every day' by Lana Winter-Hebert, [reading, entertainment, education].
  51. October 2015: 'How much can you really learn while you're asleep?' by Jordan Gaines Lewis, The Guardian, October 6th 2015 [neuroscience, learning, adolescence].
  52. 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].

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

The Submarine, Hilary Term 2021

The latest edition of the pupil magazine, The Submarine, is now online and can be read here in flippable form.

Editors Avi Johnston and Edna Johnston have gathered pupil writing and artwork by, among others, Zofia Cannon-Brookes, Isabel Warnock, Isabella Treacy, Lorne Walsh, Vivian Tuite, Vanessa McEvoy, Lou Sacolax, Ryan Ovenden and Elys Walker.

Thanks also to Mr Jameson, as 'patron' of the venture.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Resources for 'Othello'

 Here are some resources for teachers and pupils of Othello:

Wednesday, March 10, 2021


The English Department is looking for a teacher of English for next term, from April 19th to June 25th 2021 inclusive. The successful candidate will teach English to First Form through to Fifth (therefore not including Sixth preparing for their Leaving Certificate).

The College operates a six-day timetable, with no classes on Wednesday or Saturday afternoons (or, for the successful candidate, Friday afternoons). The Department is a close-knit supportive one, with three experienced teachers available constantly to support the person appointed. Classes are small (for example, there are 15 pupils in the Fifth Form set).

Applicants must be fully qualified teachers and will ideally have some experience.  They must also be native English speakers and have appropriate Garda vetting.

Applications, including a Curriculum Vitae and the names and addresses of two referees,
should be forwarded as soon as possible/or by Friday 19th March at the latest to:

The Warden, St. Columba’s College, Whitechurch, Dublin 16


Any query in advance of application can be sent without prejudice to

Thursday, February 25, 2021

'King Lear' quotation retrieval grids

Here are some exercises on quotations in King Lear. They are designed for pair-work 10-minute sessions in class, but work perfectly well for individuals. You need to know the play well, so these are for revision at a late stage. 

The purpose is to make your mind work hard: retrieving factual details, certainly, about the sequence of the play, individual quotations and so on, but more importantly know making you think and create connections. You don’t need to write on the original sheet itself: just take a piece of paper and jot down your responses. [Line numbers are from the Everyman edition Tragedies, Volume 1].

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Leaving Certificate English resources

For resources directed at both Leaving Certificate students studying remotely now, and their teachers, head over here.

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 M├ícha (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