Tuesday, December 26, 2006

King Lear

Today may be the 400th anniversary of the first performance of King Lear, in front of King James. This afternoon BBC Radio 4 featured an excellent programme on the play, its cultural context and its performance history, which can be heard here for the next week. It features actors, directors, scholars, musicians and even a food historian.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happy Christmas ...

... to our visitors. Last night in the BSR we put on our pantomime, Up the Hill, starring a variety of pupils and staff. Pictured left, Jill (Anamaria Halip) and Jack (Johnny Cooper) talk to their pensionable donkey/ass Eeyore (Daron Higgins). Right, the Three Airheads, Ashley Sherwood, Tarka Russell and Alisa Bowen, like totally, roish?

Next term starts on Monday January 8th, when posting will resume.

Coetzee, Shriver, Murakami

Crispin Maenpaa has been awarded a Commendation for his Transition Year Extended Essay (click here) on three very different novels with the common theme of Parenthood :

"The three books I chose for my extended essay are the disturbing and eye-opening novel We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver, the award-winning novel Disgrace by J.M.Coetzee and the intriguing and surreal novel Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami. We Need to Talk about Kevin is about the dangerous distance that can exist between a mother and a daughter and it discusses the ultimate taboo - can a mother hate her son?"

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Another extended essay

Another commendation this year for her Transition Year extended essay went to Rebecca Feeney-Barry for this piece on Suffering in literature, which analyses Jennifer Johnston's How Many Miles to Babylon, Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol and Iain M.Banks's Consider Phlebas.

Up the Hill

Tonight, our Drama Department presents its annual Christmas pantomime, billed as allegedly an 'entertainment' in the BSR at 8.30 pm after the Christmas Dinners. This year, Up the Hill is a bodice-ripping tale of adventure through Sherwood Forest on the way to a strangely familiar boarding school near a new nursing home, run by Headmaster Scenario and Dean of Decorum Hamish McSpanknasty. Click here for the programme.

III form book reports

Two more book reports from the Junior Certificate reading project for III form. Here, Anna Traill writes about How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff and The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult, and here Jasper Mathews writes about Robert Swindells's Stone Cold and Mildred Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Extended Essays

The Transition Year Extended Essay projects this term produced an impressive level of literary analysis. Click here for Joseph Millar's essay on war fiction, analysing Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, Pat Barker's Regeneration, and Iain Lawrence's Lord of the Nutcracker Men. A second outstanding essay is by Celeste Guinness (here), on Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country, and Anne Frank's Diary. Both Joseph's and Celeste's essays have received Commendations.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Terry Dolan

Pictured : the distinguished academic and broadcaster Professor Terry Dolan of UCD talking to senior pupils on Saturday evening in the Lower Argyle about the origins of words. Terry has been coming to us for many years, and again his talk was much appreciated by those present. At the end of the talk Terry impressively explained the etymology of almost every word the audience asked about. Right, Professor Dolan with our Senior Prefect Ben Dunne and Second Prefect Emma Mallon.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The School for Scandal

The cast and crew from our November production of Twelfth Night are going on Monday evening to the new Abbey Theatre production of Sheridan's The School for Scandal, which has had very good notices in the press - called 'sparkling' by the Irish Times and 'nothing short of a triumph' by the Irish Independent. An introduction and the full text can be seen by clicking here.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Marriage Proposal

Ronan Swift recently held auditions for our entry to the St Andrew's College one-act drama festival in February, in which we often take part. The three parts in the short farce A Marriage Proposal by Anton Chekhov (pictured) go to Ben Russell, Ben Armstrong and Ellie Russell. The play was written in 1888. More on the production next term.

Mitchell, Ahern, Sebold

Another example of the III book reports which have recently been completed for the Junior Certificate course. This is Kate Haslett's essay comparing three books, Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, Cecelia Ahern's P.S.I Love You, and Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

'The Year of the Hiker' reviews

Last week the Transition Year went to the Druid production of John B.Keane's The Year of the Hiker at the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire. We now post two reviews by IV formers - Celeste Guinness (click here) and David Beresford (click here). This outing was part of our ongoing Transition Year programme; we like to take our pupils to interesting professional productions in Dublin, and at the end of the year the form takes part in its own drama production, in the form of a 'showbuild' with the Actiontrack Performance Company.

Teaching English report

The Inspectorate of the Department of Education and Science has just published a 56-page report 'Looking at English : teaching and learning English'. Click here (PDF file, opened with Adobe Acrobat).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Professor T.P. Dolan

On Saturday evening we welcome back to the College a good friend, Professor Terry Dolan of UCD, who for many years has been visiting us and speaking to senior pupils on a variety of topics, such as Chaucer's Knight, the origins and use of 'bad' language and Hiberno-English, on which topic he is the world expert. He is the co-author with Terry Jones of Who Murdered Chaucer? Terry is also well-known to many Irish radio listeners for his talks with Sean Moncrieff on Newstalk 106 on Monday afternoons, and you can subscribe to his podcast from the station.

On Saturday he will be talking to VI and V form pupils in the Lower Argyle about the origins of words in English - an occasion to look forward to, since his talks are always most appreciated here, combining as they do erudition, scholarship and entertainment. Terry is also Director of the fascinating Hiberno-English website, which features in our recommended links on the right sidebar.

English prizes

Last night there was a large turn-out of pupils for the first special subject prize exam of the academic year, the Junior English Prize. The Senior Prize will be held on Friday evening.

Monday, December 04, 2006

1000 visitors

We've just had our 1000th visitor in this, our first blogging term. About 65% of visitors come from Ireland. The UK, USA, Spain and Germany come next, followed by about 40 other countries all over the world, ranging from Australia to Greenland to Costa Rica to Canada. Pictured, our earth-bound site in Whitechurch, Co Dublin.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

'Book of the Year'

At the moment the newspapers are full of book recommendations for Christmas presents. This is an open invitation to any of our readers associated with the College - pupils, teachers, parents, friends, Old Columbans - to send along your own 'Book of the Year', and we'll post a selection before the end of term. Anything read during 2006 which you'd like to share with others (it doesn't have to have been published recently). Please email 5/6 lines to us at the address in the right sidebar.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

III form book reports

Our Junior Certificate pupils have just completed their school exams. 25% of their final mark this term is given to their book reports, completed prior to the exams. Rebecca Scott has written on Malorie Blackman's Noughts and Crosses, Maeve Binchy's Night of Rain and Stars, and Elizabeth Laird's Red Sky in the Morning (here). More reports to be posted here in due course.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Javier Marias

John Fanagan writes : "I have just finished my third novel this year by Javier Marias, Tomorrow in the Battle Think on Me. The translation (like the others, from Spanish, by the same translator) is excellent and makes his unusual style (immensely long paragraphs and frequent digressions) very accessible. It opens with the married lover of the narrator dying suddenly in his arms as her young child is asleep in an adjoining room.

The story is not all gloom, though, and there is one hilarious chapter which features a meeting with the King who is referred to by a series of nicknames (Only the Lonely, The Lone Ranger...). Marias is a writer unlike most others and is well worth trying."

See his website here, including an English section.