Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tennant's 'Hamlet' on the BBC

On Sunday last the BBC showed the film of Gregory Doran's RSC stage production of Hamlet, opening with CCTV footage of the battlements of Elsinore. It's also worth looking at the BBC's microsite which has lots of interesting material - video interviews with cast and crew, clips from past productions (back to 1913), teachers' notes and more.

And that's the last of 380 posts for 2009. All the best to everyone interested in English literature and in the English language in 2010. We'll be very busy then, with lots more ideas and innovations...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Past 2009, 22

The last of this year's selection from our Everybody Writes Day, during which every pupil (and some teachers) in the school wrote about the theme 'Christmas Past'. Happy Christmas to all...

That evening, the little country railway station was deserted, and I was the only passenger to leave the train, stepping gingerly onto the icy platform with my bag. My father was waiting in his car in the all-enveloping fog, and he drove us slowly and very carefully through the white frozen landscape. It hadn't snowed: the whiteness came from night after night of freezing frost. The headlights were dipped, the beams hitting the fog only a few feet away, and we moved along the deserted road, cocooned in the car, towards home.

In the morning, I opened the curtains to a bright blue sky. In the garden, the branches on the trees were heaped inches high with frost, crusty piles of sugar, sugar, sugar.

Bernard O'Donoghue's 'Christmas'

Bernard O'Donoghue's poem 'Christmas', from his Selected Poems, is reprinted in today's Irish Times. O'Donoghue's 'Aine' was our Poem of the Week in May 2008, and here's another post about him.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Past 2009, 21

It was Christmas Eve, and a cold bitter winter's night. We had just arrived back from Mass, and sprinted inside to turn on the RTE news. They confirmed it: Santa Claus was definitely coming and would be arriving in Ireland in approximately two hours.

After we had gotten everything ready for Santa Claus, I remember my mother coming out with three presents - one for me and one for each of my two brothers. Within a few seconds the red and white wrapping paper had been ripped open.

Inside the wrapping paper lay a beautiful pair of real silk pyjamas. They were gold and they were covered in small blue and white flowers. I absolutely loved them. I ran upstairs to put them on, and suddenly I could hear my father calling me to come downstairs.

I got down as fast as I could, to find my father standing at the window. 'Look, it's snowing.' I was overwhelmed by joy.

My brothers and I ran outside and gazed as the small white snowflakes that fell from the black sky stuck to the ground.

My father came out afterwards and I ran to him and jumped up into his arms. I wrapped my arms around his broad body and said, 'I love you, Daddy' and he said 'I love you too.'

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Past 2009, 20

A Baby in a Manger

A frosty morning
A brace of pheasants
A laurel wreath
A holly tree

A chocolate calendar
A wooden angel
A stream of lights
A crispy turkey

A swollen stocking
A fiery pudding
A morning hunt
A smoking chimney

A nativity play
A partridge in a pear-tree
A baby in a manger
A life sacrificed for me.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Past 2009, 19

We had just finished Christmas dinner when it happened. The first person to notice it was my younger brother. I was too busy unwrapping my presents to notice him pressing his nose flat on the large window in the living-room. My parents didn't notice either. They were clearing the table and looking after my granny, making sure that she was comfortable on the sofa. She didn't notice it either: she was too busy watching me playing with my new toys.

After a while I noticed my brother had left all his presents behind, which was definitely unusual. I looked at him, still standing there, his breath fogging the glass as he stared outside. What was he looking at? What could be more interesting than his presents? Some were still lying untouched under the Christmas tree.

I moved to the window to discover what was out there.

At first I saw nothing. I asked my brother what it was, but he would not respond. He kept staring up into the dark sky. So I went closer, as close as possible to the window, my nose flattened by the cold pane, and tried to figure out what it was. I could see nothing special.

Just when I was about to turn around and start playing with my new toys, I saw it. Up there. There were only one or two at a time, white against the sky, and hardly visible, but those were definitely snow flakes falling from the sky.

I had never had snow at Christmas before, so the thought of a proper white Christmas was incredible. So I kept standing there, excited to see if the snowfall would get heavier, or stop. And after a while it did grow heavier. We watched the green of the grass at the front of the house being covered by white. We saw the black silhouettes of the trees turning white, slowly. The bushes and every single part of the sad-looking dark world outside turned white, just as if the angels themselves had dropped their feathers on our world. And all I could think of was that this was the best Christmas present I had ever got.

I can't tell you how long I was standing there for. Two little boys were fascinated by the snow falling outside. But finally my brother broke the silence.

'Let's build a snowman,' was what he said.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas Past 2009, 18

Christmas Day, Bondi Beach.

My mother watched from the shore, as she had a broken foot, and stitches, but we still played in the water, oblivious to her desire to be with us. We swam out far, I mean my father swam with me on his back, as I was only four years old.

We reached a sandbank, and the waves towered over me, and knocked me down every time they hit me. I laughed and splashed, while my brother was tumbled as if he was in a washing machine.

Our fun was cut short as a helicopter flew overhead, announcing a Great White Shark. It had been spotted just off the beach. It was time to go back to the beach. Barbeque time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Results of Edublog Awards, 2009

Many thanks to all our friends and visitors who voted SCC English into 'second runner-up' position (otherwise known as third) in the 'Best Group Blog' category at the 2009 Edublog Awards. Full details of the voting are here. This follows our win last year, so we've had a very pleasing time of it at the 'Eddies'.

Many congratulations to the winner, Macmillan Dictionary Blog, and the 'first runner-up', I.N.K. - Interesting Non-Fiction for Kids.

We're delighted that English Companion, which, along with many other English teachers, we nominated and voted for, won 'Best Educational Use of a Social Network'.

Check out the full lists of winners and nominees here - a great way to see the sort of work that is being done worldwide.

Christmas Past 2009, 17

17. Christmas is supposed to be a happy time of year, when you exchange gifts and spend time with your family. However, what we forget is how some people have to face horrific times during Christmas.

Sometimes you are too young to be aware of what's really happening. The Christmas of 2006 would have been the worst-ever Christmas for me if I had been aware of what was happening to my father. He was in hospital, not aware yet that he had cancer. So he was suffering, and in pain. But even though you might not be aware of it at the time, it almost upsets you more when you are older. Just the thought of having not known can make you feel guilty.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Past 2009, 16

It was late on Christmas Eve and I clearly remember the delight on my brother's face. We had placed our 'stockings' at the end of our beds. These stockings were the biggest of our father's socks that we could find. My brother's was a murky green one, knee-high and quite stretchy. Mine was a tangerine colour, and even longer than my brother's, much to my delight.

I remember how I had set out a glass and brandy and some cookies for Father Christmas, and my brother had found a large carrot for Rudolph. Our parents told us we had to go to bed early because Santa wouldn't arrive if we didn't. My brother shouted out in protest and insisted that we have 'The Night Before Christmas' read for us. Our father agreed, and sat down beside the fire with the book.

The next morning we woke with a huge present by our beds, but before we opened it we rushed to see if Santa had eaten his cookies and drunk his brandy.

As we came into the sitting-room, we realised that not only had he had his treats, but he also had left soot-marks all across the carpet. My brother screeched: 'He must have been here!'

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Holidays

We end the Michaelmas Term today, and come back on Monday 11th January 2010. So it's time for lots of reading during the festivities. There will be some more automated posts on 'Christmas Past' as we complete our series leading up to Christmas itself. It's been another extremely busy blogging term, and in January we'll be posting lots of work by pupils - particularly Extended Essays and book reports - that got backed up towards the end of this term.

A final reminder of the Edublog Awards vote - last day today. And Happy Christmas to all our visitors.

Christmas Past 2009, 15

15. My Granny was around. We decorated the tree as usual like every year, except that this year Granny didn't know who we were or where she was. She had moments of memory, and it all took me back to when I was ten, giving her home-made presents, one after the other.

She passed away three days later, but I'm glad she got to enjoy one more Christmas.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Edublog Voting...

There are still two days in which to register your vote in the 2009 Edublog Awards. Voting stops at 04:59 on Thursday morning, Irish time, and you can vote by clicking the badge at the top of the right-hand sidebar.

Do check through the categories to see lots of great work around the world. And thanks for your support, like last year!

About Two Boys

It's the last night of term, and time for the traditional end of year Christmas pantomime. The makers of the award-winning St Saint's trilogy present ... the prequel, About Two Boys, tonight in the BSR from 8.30pm.

It's the story of two Headmasters, coincidentally both named Michael, and how they came to be what they are. It's also the story of a cruel interview, crack German paratroopers, some dodgy 1970s disco-dancing, a Marilyn Monroe tribute duet, the shaving off of a moustache, and much, much more.

Read the programme here.

Review of 'A Christmas Carol'

Here's a review by John Clarke from First Form, following their recent visit to the Gate Theatre:

On Wednesday, 9 December, I Form went to see John Mortimer's adaptation of Dickens's A Christmas Carol at the Gate theatre. The production was directed by Alan Stanford.

I thought the set was very realistic: it consisted of a brick wall and a fireplace with many entrances and an old Victorian door on the right. The backdrop occasionally opened up to reveal shop windows in London. The brilliant Victorian top hats, gowns, dresses, tail-coats, cloaks and rags also set the scene well and it was evidently a busy winter's night in a London street.

I had previously seen Stephen Brennan in Noel Coward's Present Laughter. In both of his performances as the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, he was hilarious.

Paul Nolan, playing one of the chorus London boys, used his carolling voice brilliantly and played a big part in making the stage performance realistic. I felt excited and proud to see him up there having known him for six years.

My favourite scene was Mr Fezziwig's ball as I thought the dancing and the laughter of the excited ladies and gentlemen was amusing and really enjoyable to watch. It was just as I had imagined it in the book.

I was rather disappointed by the scene with Marley's ghost. Although it was exciting and the ghost made me shiver, the narrators standing openly in the background spoiled the sense of Scrooge being utterly alone.

I thought the play overall was very good and it respected the book well. The Ghost of Christmas Present was very funny because of his childish character and plump figure. He was the highlight of the show. I think the book was complicated and some scenes were more exciting in theatrical performance, yet others couldn't live up to the standard of Dickens.

I would recommend this to adults and to people who have read the novel for both are thrilling and after reading the book, the play is more understandable.

[In this afternoon's College Carol Service, Mr Girdham will be reading an extract from the book].

Christmas Past 2009, 14

Four year-old innocence :

My eyes open and it is still dark. I slide out of bed and run down the corridor. I stop outside the glass doors into the living-room. I can see the lights of the tree twinkle. I shiver. What if HE is still in there?

I push the door open and am dazzled with the array of toys under the tree. I find my gift. I love it. It is just what I wanted. I notice that the bed-sheet in my doll's cot is just like the one on my own bed. I notice that the bars on the cot are made from sticks similar to the ones my father gave me to play with only a week ago when he was working in the shed. I wonder why Daddy never tried making a cot for me out of that stuff.

But how could he? He's not Santy.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Thanks to Scoilnet for mentioning our podcasts in their updated 'Podcasting in Schools' list. You can listen to our podcasts via the player on the right, or look at a list of them here, or go to our podcast site here. Recently, we and our friends over at the Frog Blog recorded a joint podcast/frogcast on 'Blogging on Schools', which may be of particular interest to teachers.

Christmas Past 2009, 12

Our series continues this week - anonymous pieces about Christmas Past written on our recent 'Everybody Writes' Day:-

12. A child's thought at Christmas. Eyes as big as saucers scan the wonder of the white blanket that evens the odds of the ground outside. Eyes that grow wider with the thought of shaping snowy friends, garbed in yesteryear's hats and scarves, to keep them warm!

Christmas Past 2009, 13

Cloves, as you stick them into the ham for an extra punch.
Holding your breath, as you hope for what you get.
Roast as the smell smothers the house.
Insomniac, doing the all-nighter.
Stockings hanging from the mantel-piece.
Tree - all the work to get it perfect.
Mistletoe, where the first kiss is made.
Amazement fills your face, and
Silence as the grace is said.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Past 2009, 11

I crept down the stairs, the silence of the house pressing in against my ears. I passed the dark form of the Christmas tree, nestled in the corner with pinpricks of colour peeping through the gloom.

Gently I pressed on the handle of the door, and was met by the cold still air outside. The silence became even more dense, as if in anticipation. Even my two dogs greeted me, it seemed, in hushed tones as if they too knew the significance of the day. I slid open the icy cold lock on the gate. The feeble squeak of the metal echoed through the stagnant air and seemed to reverberate off the hard frost-covered ground.

I walked out and looked down the road. It snaked away from me, the dusting of snow reflecting the silver moonlight. The stark trees were silhouetted against the moon. I felt as if I must be the only one in the world awake, the first to breathe the misty air, to see nature before anyone else.

Billy Collins reads to teachers

Billy Collins recently spoke to more than 1,400 teachers at the General Session of the 2009 National Writing Project Annual Meeting in Philadelphia.

Collins read the following poems: "A Portrait of the Reader with a Bowl of Cereal," "Grave," "Palermo," "Simile," "Oh, My God," "Monday," "The Trouble with Poetry," "Litany," "Migrane" or "Hangover," "Hippos on Holiday," "Schoolsville," "The Golden Years," and "On Turning Ten."

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Christmas Past 2009, 10

'D'you think it will snow this year?' I looked out through the huge parallel windows at the front of the house and pressed my fingers against the nearly-not-there glass.

'Don't touch the windows, you'll get grease marks all over them,' Mum said, and I drew my hand back.

'Of course it won't snow,' Dad said, dismissing my eight year-old hopes. 'It's too warm to snow here.'

My dreams were shattered. But it couldn't put a dampener on the celebrations. The table was set with our once-a-year best silver, the tree twinkled with yellow lights, and the presents poked their heads shyly from beneath it. It was Christmas Eve. There was nothing that could make me sad now.

I went to bed early, but as always strived to stay awake to see the elusive Santa. My parents kept poking their heads around the door, only to see my eyes wide and gleaming in the dark. 'If you're not asleep before midnight you'll turn into a pumpkin!' It was my Dad's favourite myth, but I did not shut my eyes.

Eventually I fell into an uneasy slumber, waking up in the middle of the night to trip over a filled stocking. I had missed the man in the red coat again! My brother and I got up as early as possible to run downstairs to see our presents - and the mysterious absence of the mince pie, the glass of sherry, the apple for the reindeer (my parents always said that by the time he got to our house he'd want a pick-me-up). But the curtains were shut, and the best sight was yet to come. Dressed to go out to church, I stepped over the threshold to see -

'It snowed!' Only the tips of the grass could be seen through the thin white layer. I tried to step on as little as possible, but scooped up a handful to throw at my brother.

'Stop that,' my Dad warned.

I looked at him. 'Told you it would snow.'

He looked up and away, taking the 'I'm-an-important-adult' stance. 'It'll be gone in an hour.'

But it didn't matter. I was eight, the air was clean and crisp, the sky was blue, the ground crunched underfoot. It was Christmas.

It really didn't matter.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Past 2009, 7

7. It was Christmas Eve in 2003. I was so excited about getting gifts. I had made my parents a necklace out of wooden balls. This was the first time I had left out food for Santa. I put in a little carrot for his reindeer. My parents told me to go to bed, 'And don't come down to look for gifts, because if you do, you'll get in trouble with Santa.'

So I trotted upstairs and just lay in bed all a-quiver. I couldn't wait for Santa to come. Slowly I drifted off to sleep...

Christmas Past 2009, 8

8. I'm scrunching my eyes shut as tight as I can, to try to get back to sleep again. But it's too late. I can feel the heavy, chocolate-laden stocking pressing on my feet. I don't care how early it is. I'm ready to burst, tossing and turning as I wait for someone else to stir. The energy and anticipation build up as I go over in my head what could be in my stocking. I think of the magic that has been in my room tonight.

I smile and sit up in bed to grab the stocking, and in the dark, as my eyes adjust, I see something very big on the floor. No! It couldn't be ... SANTA'S LEFT HIS SACK BEHIND! I don't know what to do. I just stare at it in shock. I have the most magical, mysterious object I could imagine waking up to, at the foot of my bed! What will I do with it? How will I tell Santa? I wonder if I'll meet him when he comes back to get it?

I bound over to my brother and sister, full of excitement, and tell them the news. We all rush back to my room to see what we should do with it. I turn on the light, not able to contain myself waiting to see the smiles on their faces. I look at them, and then back at the floor, where lies, from Santa Claus, a bean-bag.

Christmas Past 2009, 9

9. Christmas had always been a very familiar and private celebration in our family. We are always together at home, go to church, and then sit around the tree. But last Christmas it was different.

My mother was in hospital and thus we decorated everything as always at home, but it was strange to do it without my mother. On Christmas Eve we all drove to the hospital and cooked in its kitchen with her. Later we sat there with other people who had to stay in hospital over Christmas and drank tea with them.

It was strange not to celebrate at home, but with people we didn't know. But at the same time all of us felt happy that we could give something to the hospital and its patients. Some of them didn't have any visitors and so that Christmas we were able to bring some love to our neighbours.

Junior English Prize

Last night there was a big turn-out for the Senior English Prize exam (the results will be announced at the start of next term). Tonight the Junior English Prize takes place in Kennedy at 6.30pm.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Edublog Awards 2009

We're pleased to be nominated in the Edublog 2009 Awards 'Best Group Blog' category, though disappointed our froggy and artistic friends aren't in the mix. If you should feel moved to vote for us, please click here, and then the instructions are clear. And here's the explanation of the nomination process from Sue Waters. The English Companion Ning was one of our nominations, so do have a look at that too.

There are some big beasts in the list this year, including the excellent Ed Tech Talk. Have a look at the other categories and you can browse through a lot of tremendous work. We'd like to recommend a vote for Patricia Donaghy's Using ICT in Further Education, too, in the Best Educational Tech Support category.

Christmas Past 2009, 4

Today, more pieces of writing from our Everybody Writes exercise. They could be by anyone in the school.

4. Christmas Day is coming. I'm sitting in my room, my sister holding my hand, and we're both looking outside, looking at the completely white garden. The snow is falling everywhere. We say nothing. The whole room is silent. We're waiting to hear the voices of our parents, when they say: 'Okay, children, it's time for you to come.'

The time goes so slowly and my sister and I just sit there on the bed.

And here's the moment. My mum is calling us. We both run out of the room, and there, there it is, the wonderful Christmas tree! My mum and my dad are standing there, so nicely-dressed, and with such lovely smiles. My heart beats fast and at this moment I could cry, and I can feel that my sister feels the same way.

Then it's time for 'Silent Night', and the four of us and the dog stand there at the Christmas tree, singing, holding hands and feeling that this is a special moment for each of us. Christmas is the night of love, and every year I can feel it. It's the best night of the whole year, not because of the presents, but because I'm with my family and every year at this time we feel how special we are.

This year it's very important, because we have had a hard time. But we're strong enough to go on, and so I can't wait for December 24th. Merry Christmas.

Christmas Past 2009, 5

5. I remember this Christmas as it was so different to all the rest. No snow, no lights. It almost seemed as if there was no purpose. No snow, no lights. It almost seemed as if there was no purpose. The Christmas spirit had gone on Christmas Eve, the same day that my brother died.

People say things change, but why? Do they have to? Surely it's not natural, it's not right for people to die at Christmas. After all, it's the 'season to be jolly'. We tried so hard to recreate the usual Christmas lunch. My mother made the whole package; it seemed as if she had put more effort into it, just to make up for the loss. It was strange only to have four seats at the table, not five.

Sometimes I think of Scrooge and how much he hated Christmas, and how I feel about Christmas now. To me it's no longer the season of festive frolics. But it is a time of remembrance, and imagining what things could be like. After all, things do, change. Nothing is ever the same, and you have to adapt to change, whether you want to or not.

Christmas Past 2009, 6

6. Turkey, ham and stuffing. I inhale the fumes as my grandmother puts her covered hand into the oven, and reaches for the biggest turkey I've ever seen. My Dad tells me to chew my food 'at least fifteen times, lad'. Of course, the taste gets to me and I chew a minimal four. I keep eating, pouring truckloads in. The flow of juices and the beautiful aroma tease my nostrils. Clearly I'm trying to beat the world record for quickest eater.

I get a bit of turkey lodged in my throat. Damn! I start to get violet. My mother gives me water. It doesn't work. Finally my grandfather hands me a glass of a brown substance he calls bourbon. Looks more like crude oil to me. I pour the foul stuff down my throat. It takes a second. Or two. Until a huge flaming fire-ball rips down my throat. I cough in panic, and the piece of turkey shoots into orbit.

I think: I'll move on to the ham.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Christmas Past 2009, I

Yesterday the whole school (including some teachers) took part in our Everyday Writes exercise on the theme of 'Christmas Past'. Over the coming days, we'll be posting some of these pieces. 10-15 minutes writing, in any form, mostly anonymous, and so for the most part no idea of the age or gender of the writer.

1. I drew back my heavy curtains, and set my eyes on a sight I had dreamed of for years: a thin blanket of soft moisture as white as snow fell onto the lawn, and melted away before my eyes. I walked downstairs getting that Christmas-Day-excited-feeling. I opened the door of the kitchen and smelt roast chicken in the oven. I wished my Dalmatian 'Happy Christmas' (he was quite alarmed I was awake so early). The Christmas tree looked better than ever and I counted my presents, and then my brother's. I couldn't believe it! My brother had TWO MORE than me. I just sat there, thinking: 'That's not fair. He doesn't deserve them.'

Christmas Past 2009, 2

2. I've never read much Joyce. 'The Dead' is masterful and set on the last day of Christmas. But I've heard tell of a Christmas scene in A Portrait of Stephen's aunts arguing over Parnell and his legacy. Christmas memories for me recall sniping aunts (my grandmother and her sisters) around the dinner table, monopolising the conversation. And what was being disputed? Turning points in the nation's governance? No. Usually it was the routes taken by long-defunct Dublin buses that caused the most rigorous debate.

A resolution: read more Joyce.

Christmas Past 2009, 3

3. We forgot, as one does with all the hype and excitement, to order the turkey in advance. Mum tried everything and called everyone we knew who had turkeys to see if we could by any chance have one. There was a lot of panic because for the first time in many years, Family were coming from Abroad. Towards the end of the 24th day, when we all decided that we would have to make do without, Mum's Russian assistant, Olga, offered to give us a piglet instead of a turkey.

At the time, it seemed like a great alternative. Until we all saw the size of the piglet. It looked as though it had spent its piglet-hood being pumped full of steroids. With no other alternative, Mum took the creature. On the 25th, however, problems arose. The monster of a piglet wouldn't fit in the oven. Dad then suggested that barbequing it would be the only other option. All the kids were sent to carry sacks of charcoal and place it in the BBQ. Needless to say, with the sweltering temperatures of the actual day, only the excess fat of the piglet was slightly cooked.

For distraction Dad sent out for crates and crates of the local Nile Lager to keep the guests happy. But for us kids, hunger set in, and all the younger ones started bawling. Sandwiches were quickly whipped out, while grown-ups patiently waited in the shade of the huge mess tent in the garden, drinking away waiting for the 'roast' to be ready.

The pig refused to cook. All the guests had to eat for Christmas dinner were sandwiches.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Christmas Carol

Tomorrow, Mr Jameson and Mr Swift are taking all I form pupils to the Gate Theatre matinee performance of Dickens's A Christmas Carol, which they have been studying in class. In the words of the Gate website:

"Back by popular demand, Dickens’s timeless classic of the true spirit of Christmas at the Gate. The famous tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation from embittered skinflint to generous benefactor has delighted audiences for generations. With the return of all the much loved characters – miserly Scrooge, the loving Cratchits, Tiny Tim and the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to ComeA Christmas Carol is a must for all the family."

Read Bruce Arnold's positive review in the Irish Independent here.

Everybody Writes Again

Today in class and prep we'll be holding our second Everybody Writes Day on the theme of Christmas Past. Each pupil in the school (and some staff, we hope) will write for 10-15 minutes on the same theme - a memory, a poem, a description...

Last year's exercise was very successful, with lots of vivid, interesting, moving and funny writing, and as with last year, we'll be regularly posting the best of this material here over the coming period leading up to Christmas itself.

All Shakespeare's Sonnets via Wordle

No 38 in our Shakespeare Wordles series : the full texts of all the Sonnets.

And finally... the last image in the Wordle marathon. We'll now be working on putting them all together in a multi-media slideshow, perhaps at the start of next term.

Wordles are created by Jonathan Feinberg's online tool here; the more times the word appears in the text, the larger the word. In our Shakespeare Wordles, the entire text, including the name indicators of the characters before they speak, is included. Thus you can see how relatively dominant a character is in each play, as well as spot recurring ideas and themes. Our Wordles use different numbers of 'maximum words'. Click on the image for a closer view.

Monday, December 07, 2009

'A Midsummer Night's Dream' poster

Thanks to our colleagues over at SCC Art for re-discovering the lovely poster above, which was created for the 2002 Shakespeare Society production of A Midsummer Night's Dream (four years before this blog started). This was designed by OC Emily Archer as a drawing which pupils were then invited to colour and decorate as part of a competition, and this version is by Johnny Hollis, then in I form, now an Old Columban.

Emily Archer's first solo exhibition opens this Thursday in the MTSL in Dublin: more here.

'The Two Noble Kinsmen' on Wordle

No 37 in our Shakespeare Wordles series : The Two Noble Kinsmen.

And finally... the last play in the Wordle marathon (co-written with John Fletcher). Tomorrow, a Wordle of all the sonnets and then we'll be working on putting them all together in a multi-media slideshow, perhaps at the start of next term.

Wordles are created by Jonathan Feinberg's online tool here; the more times the word appears in the text, the larger the word. In our Shakespeare Wordles, the entire text, including the name indicators of the characters before they speak, is included. Thus you can see how relatively dominant a character is in each play, as well as spot recurring ideas and themes. Our Wordles use different numbers of 'maximum words'. Click on the image for a closer view.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Ronan Swift in Concert

It seems only yesterday that we were interviewing departmental colleague Ronan Swift for a podcast about his first album, the memorably-named Farewell Future Wives. Now comes news of a new gig, with new tunes that will find their way into the next album.

So see him on Thursday 10th December, at Bewley's in Grafton Street. Entry 8.30 for a 9pm start, 10euro in.

In the words of the Bewley's site:-

Dublin singer-songwriter Ronan Swift is coming down from his home in the mountains to join his band (regulars Josh Johnston - piano, Eoin O'Brien - guitar, Bill Blackmore - trumpet, Malachy Robinson - bass along with some special guests) in the intimate surroundings of Bewleys Cafe Theatre in the city centre of Dublin to play tracks from his debut CD farewell future wives (launched September 2009), and to preview tracks from his forthcoming CD to be released Spring 2010. Ronan was born in '72, the year Al Blue Lewis fought Ali in a bout of Gaelic Boxing at Croker and came second. He has been a schoolboy, a schoolmaster, a window cleaner & a gardener. His folky/rocky/poppy tunes of love and life are adorned by a dedicated gang of selfless musicians. Both words and music are equally important in the constant striving to create dingin' tunes. Tracks can be heard at
He also has his own Facebook fanpage. farewell future wives is available from Tower Records and Road Records in Dublin, or, and I-Tunes worldwide. Ronan also featured on Josh Johnston’s 2008 Shandon Records CD “Asylum Harbour” singing his own song “The Forty-Foot”.

'King John' on Wordle

No 36 in our Shakespeare Wordles series : King John.

Wordles are created by Jonathan Feinberg's online tool here; the more times the word appears in the text, the larger the word. In our Shakespeare Wordles, the entire text, including the name indicators of the characters before they speak, is included. Thus you can see how relatively dominant a character is in each play, as well as spot recurring ideas and themes. Our Wordles use different numbers of 'maximum words'. Click on the image for a closer view.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Poetry Aloud Finals Day

Good luck this morning to Hamish Law and John Clarke, our two semi-finalists in this year's Poetry Aloud competition, which comes to a climax today at Wesley College. The final will be held in Wesley this evening in front of President Mary McAleese.

'Richard III' on Wordle

No 36 in our Shakespeare Wordles series : Richard III.

Wordles are created by Jonathan Feinberg's online tool here; the more times the word appears in the text, the larger the word. In our Shakespeare Wordles, the entire text, including the name indicators of the characters before they speak, is included. Thus you can see how relatively dominant a character is in each play, as well as spot recurring ideas and themes. Our Wordles use different numbers of 'maximum words'. Click on the image for a closer view.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Punctuation New's on Apostrophe's!!

In July last we reported on the local Guerrilla Punctuation Action Group (GPAG), who seemed to be inserting apostrophes on local signs during covert night-time raids.

Here's a site ('How to Use an Apostrophe') which explains clearly when to use and not to use those tricky little marks, and there's also Sue Palmer's Home for Abused Apostrophes. And here's a Flickr group in which you can see lot's of example's of egregiou's error's.

'The Merchant of Venice' on Wordle

No 35 in our Shakespeare Wordles series : The Merchant of Venice.

Wordles are created by Jonathan Feinberg's online tool here; the more times the word appears in the text, the larger the word. In our Shakespeare Wordles, the entire text, including the name indicators of the characters before they speak, is included. Thus you can see how relatively dominant a character is in each play, as well as spot recurring ideas and themes. Our Wordles use different numbers of 'maximum words'. Click on the image for a closer view.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Review of 'The Acharnians'

A week before the recent exams, we had our annual Senior Play, this time the ancient Greek comedy The Acharnians, by Aristophanes. Click here for an Animoto video, here for a rehearsal video.

Now, Amelia Shirley reviews the production:-

The acting was of a very high standard this year, with participants from 4th Form up to 6th Form. Poppy Vernon opened the evening, complaining about “no one being on time”. She swaggered onto the stage in a black trilby, waistcoat and boots, only to pace back and forth, ranting on about something or another that no one could really relate to at this early stage in the performance. Her outspoken character, Dikaiopolis, was conveyed magnificently, and nothing seemed to faze her acting skills, not even the shameless Michael McBurney in his Speedos and swimming goggles.

Click here for Amelia's full review.

'The Winter's Tale' on Wordle

No 34 in our Shakespeare Wordles series : The Winter's Tale.

Wordles are created by Jonathan Feinberg's online tool here; the more times the word appears in the text, the larger the word. In our Shakespeare Wordles, the entire text, including the name indicators of the characters before they speak, is included. Thus you can see how relatively dominant a character is in each play, as well as spot recurring ideas and themes. Our Wordles use different numbers of 'maximum words'. Click on the image for a closer view.