Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Transition Year English Evening 2024

The 29th Transition Year English Evening was held on Tuesday 30th May in the Big Schoolroom. Again, it was a showcase of some of the best writing done during the year in English classes (there is no competitive element). Mr Jameson hosted the event, and the guest was former English teacher here, Mrs Annie Donnelly, who now works at Loreto Beaufort School.

Speakers (with Mrs Donnelly’s comments in square brackets) were:

  • Rebekah Fitzgerald Hollywood on the nature of true friendship [this was thoughtful, with a clear sense of the person, and an excellent use of the extended metaphor].
  • Delia Brady on her great-grandmother, ‘a person I would bring back from the dead’ [an engaging, fascinating historical essay, powerful as well as moving and tragic].
  • Finn Woolsey on imagining his alternative self, ‘a person I would bring back from the dead’ [this was brilliantly philosophical, very controlled and original].
  • Safia Walker on the proposition that young people have more problems than adults [an essay that was convincing and persuasive].
  • Sophie Gibb with a story, ‘Window to the Soul’ [extremely memorable, with lots of tension and drama, and particularly effective use of sounds]
  • Stella Borrowdale on her first home [a fine focus on family and belonging, with good attention to small things].
  • Grant Fabian with a description of nature [poetic techniques used very well, with strong landscape description].
  • Olive Mui on ‘The Oldest Person I Know’, her grandmother who went through the Chinese Famine [very engaging and original, with a lovely sardonic touch].
  • Cerys Mordaunt imagining meeting up again in 8 years’ time with her friend Polly [excellent attention to detail in this imagining what the transition from adolescence to adulthood might look like].
  • Grace Koch: a story called ‘Alone in the Forest’ [this captured big ideas, and used dialogue very well].

Mrs Donnelly also talked eloquently about the power of English, and how it deals with the most important things in life. She much enjoyed returning to the College, where she worked for two happy years. She also announced the winners of this year’s Premier Awards:

Stella Borrowdale, Delia Brady, Rebekah Fitzgerald Hollywood, Grace Koch, Grace McCarthy, Cerys Mordaunt, Olive Mui, Felix Strigel, Giulia Trolese and Safia Walker.

Voices of Poetry 2024

The long-standing Voices of Poetry event at the end of May provides a pause-point in the year. It is the last major event in the Big Schoolroom, and on a Sunday evening at the end of a busy weekend it gives us all a moment to listen attentively and appreciate great writing.

As always, it featured a mixture of English and other languages. It is remarkable how much one can get out of another language in terms of musicality even if the words are mysterious. Readers did give brief introductions to each of their pieces, and 23 poems were covered in 45 minutes, with Mr Girdham presenting and linking them.

Anton Demenko kicked things off in Ukrainian, followed by an utterly different language from a totally different part of the world: Bibiire Oke-Osanyintolu recited a poem in Yoruba from Nigeria.

The first English poem came from Eoin Siegel – Robert Frost’s famous ‘The Road Taken’, with its resonant final lines 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.


On the thin grounds that both languages start with the letter ‘I’, but on the more substantial ones that they are both beautifully euphonious, Italian and Irish followed, with four poems intertwined and recited by Anna Luisa Sanminiatelli, Euan Flanagan, Francesco Malacarne and Molly Mann.

Shannon Walker Kinsella chose to read Cassandra Wright’s ‘Clandestine Meeting’, and she was followed by three ‘Iberian’ languages – Spanish (Pedro Olea), South American/Venezuelan Spanish (Manuela Nassief) and Portuguese (Kayra Mbanefo).

Congratulations to Nia Jessup, winner of this year’s Junior Poetry Prize for her touching poem ‘My Love’, about her grandmother, which she read out movingly.

Quite a jump then to one of the most unusual European languages, Hungarian (unconnected to any other, apart from, peculiarly, Finnish), from Gaspar Kekessy and Kasimir zu Bentheim.

And another jump to Mr Swift, who marked his interest in golf by reading out John Updike’s tribute to Payne Stewart, who came to a tragic end in 1999 at the age of 42.

Neighbouring France and Germany came next, with poems read out by Olivia Borbath and Vito Wieser, followed by two major languages from further afield, Arabic (Cecilia Corti) and Mandarin Chinese (Merida Zhang).

English rounded things up: Hal Somerville recited Byron’s dramatic ‘The Destruction of Sennacherib‘ from 1815, followed by the Warden again impressively performing one of his many learnt-poems, Rudyard Kipling’s classic ‘If’. Finally, the awarding of the Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry was marked by the Sub-Warden reading out one of Isabella Treacy’s winning poems from her portfolio. Congratulations to her on winning the prize for three years in a row.

As Mr Girdham said at the end, there is nothing better than catching up with some reading in whatever areas pupils like best. And why not some poetry?

Monday, May 20, 2024

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 2024: 'Cramming for an exam isn’t the best way to learn – but if you have to do it, here’s how' by Jonathan Firth, University of Strathclyde, The Conversation, May 17th 2024 [study, cognitive science, examinations].
  2. February 2024: 'How people get sucked into misinformation rabbit holes – and how to get them out' by Emily Booth and Marian-Andrei Rizoiu, University of Technology Sydney, The Conversation, February 23rd 2024 [technology, psychology].
  3. September 2023: 'The case against pets: is it time to give up our cats and dogs?' by Ellie Violet Bramley, Guardian, September 13th 2023 [animal welfare}
  4. September 2023: '‘Edtech’ offers no escape from reality' by John Thornhill, Financial Times, September 7th 2023 [education, technology].
  5. January 2023: 'Why winter walks at the seaside are good for you' by Nick Davies and Sean J. Gammon, The Conversation, January 13th 2023 [mental health].
  6. October 2022: 'There’s too much of everything. And it’s making us unhappy.’ by Se├ín Moncrieff, Irish Times, October 15th October 2022 [parenting, adolescence, consumerism].
  7. September 2022: 'A comeback for nuclear power' by The Week staff writers,  September 4th 2022 [nuclear power, economics, environment].
  8. September 2022: 'Why is our Government so happy to ignore the financial nightmare young people face?' by Gemma Haverty, Irish Times, August 30th 2022 [economics, society].
  9. April 2022: 'A year of hunger: how the Russia-Ukraine war is worsening climate-linked food shortages' by Nenad Naumovski, The Conversation (Australia), April 26th 2022 [war, economics, climate change].
  10. November 2021: 'The climate won’t wait. We need a carbon tax now
    The time for handwringing is definitively over
    ' by Tim Harford, Financial Times, October 29th 2021 [environment, climate change].
  11. September 2021: 'Leaks just exposed how toxic Facebook and Instagram are to teen girls and, well, everyone' by Siva Vaidhyanathan, The Guardian, September 18th 2021 [social media].
  12. September 2021: 'Narcissists: there's more than one type' by Nikhila Mahadevan, The Conversation, August 5th 2021 [psychology].
  13. May 2021: 'We must stop Covid shutting girls out of school forever' by Malala Yousafzai, Financial Times, April 29th 2021 [pandemic, education]
  14. 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].
  15. November 2020: 'Remembrance Day is an exercise in collective amnesia' by Samuel Earle, The Guardian, November 8th 2020 [history, politics, remembrance].
  16. 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].
  17. October 2020: 'To combat conspiracy theories teach critical thinking – and community' by Thomas Roulet, The Conversation, October 2nd 2020 [conspiracy, social media, education].
  18. September 2020: 'What can we learn about people from their social media?' by Gwendolyn Sideman, Psychology Today, September 21st 2020 [social media, psychology, behaviour].
  19. 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]
  20. February 2020: 'Are First-Borns Really Natural Leaders?' by Clara Sabolova, The Conversation, February 7th [parenting, upbringing, nurture].
  21. 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}.
  22. 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].
  23. 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].
  24. 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].
  25. May 2019: 'How Exercise Affects Our Memory' by Gretchen Reynolds, New York Times, May 1st 2019 [exercise, physiology, neuroscience].
  26. January 2019: 'Aviation is the red meat in the greenhouse gas sandwich' by John Gibbons, the Irish Times, January 29th 2019 [environment, aviation].
  27. January 2019: 'Filling the Silence with Digital Noise' by the Nielsen Norman Group, November 18th 2018 [technology, learning].
  28. November 2018: "Window for saving Earth from ecological annihilation closing" by John Gibbons, the Irish Times, October 16th 2018 [ecology, environment].
  29. October 2018: "'Fortnite' teaches the wrong lessons" by Nicholas Tampio, The Conversation, October 12th 2018 [gaming, adolescence, technology]/
  30. 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.
  31. 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].
  32. September 2018: 'Why you should read this article slowly' by Joe Moran, The Guardian, September 14th 2018 [reading, internet].
  33. September 2018: 'The ideal school would put children's development before league tables' by Sue Roffey, The Conversation, September 17th 2018.
  34. September 2018: 'Another Angle: For the love of God, put down the phones' by Adrian Weckler, Irish Independent, August 20th 2018 [technology, phone].
  35. May 2018: 'Neuroscience is unlocking mysteries of the teenage brain' by Lucy Foulkes, The Conversation, April 23rd 2018 [adolescence, neuroscience].
  36. March 2018: 'The Tyranny of Convenience' by Tim Yu, New York Times, February 16th 2018 [modern life, technology].
  37. February 2018: "The death of reading is threatening the soul" by Philip Yancey, Washington Post, July 21st 2017 [reading, books, internet].
  38. January 2018: 'Why more men are wearing makeup than ever before' by Glen Jankowski, The Conversation, January 15th 2018 [make-up, masculinity].
  39. January 2018: 'Why 2017 was the best year in human history' by Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, January 6, 2018 [history, progress, health].
  40. November 2017: 'Boys must behave if women are to be safe' by Fintan O'Toole, The Irish Times, October 31, 2017.
  41. October 2017: 'A giant insect ecosystem is collapsing due to humans' by Michael McCarthy, The Guardian, October 21, 2017.
  42. October 2017: 'We can't stop mass murder' by Shikha Dalmia, The Week, October 6, 2017.
  43. October 2017: 'What every teacher should know about ... memory' by Bradley Busch, The Guardian, October 6, 2017 [learning, memory, teaching].
  44. 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].
  45. September 2017: 'The power of silence in the smartphone age' by Erling Kagge, The Guardian, September 23rd 2017 [technology].
  46. September 2017: '5 reasons why people share fake photos during disasters' by A.J. Willingham,, September 8th 2017 [journalism, psychology, social media].
  47. September 2017: 'Can you identify the psychopaths in your life?' by Rob Hastings, iNews, August 29th 2017 [psychology].
  48. February 2017: 'Our roads are choked. We're on the verge of carmageddon' by George Monbiot, The Guardian, September 20th 2016 [environment, transport].
  49. January 2017: 'Girls believe brilliance is a male trait' by Nicola Davis, The Guardian, January 27th 2017.
  50. January 2017: 'What do teenagers want? Potted plant parents' by Lisa Damour, New York Times, December 14th 2016 [adolescence, parenting].
  51. November 2016: 'Trump makes it easy to vote for Her' by Carl Hiaasen, Miami Herald, November 6th 2016 [politics, America].
  52. October 2016: 'How being alone may be the key to rest' by Claudia Hammond, BBC, September 27th 2016 [rest, reading, introversion].
  53. September 2016: 'Why Parents are Getting Angrier' by Nicola Skinner, The Guardian, September 3rd 2016 [parenting, psychology, childhood].
  54. September 2016: 'Burkini beach ban: must French Muslim women become invisible?' by Delphine Strauss, The Irish Times, August 22nd 2016 [culture, Islam, France].
  55. May 2016: 'How can Lidl sell jeans for £5.99?' by Gethin Chamberlain, The Guardian, March 13th 2016 [economics, retailing, manufacture].
  56. April 2016: 'Teaching men how to be emotionally honest' by Anrew Reiner, New York Times, April 4th 2016 [gender, adolescence, masculinity].
  57. 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].
  58. 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].
  59. January 2016: 'Welcome to the Anthropocene, a new geological era for the world', The Week, January 8th 2016 [geology, climate change, environment].
  60. November 2015: 'Birth Order Determines ... Almost Nothing' by Jeanne Safer, [psychology, parenting, childhood].
  61. November 2015: 'How psychopaths can save your life' by Kevin Dutton, The Observer [psychology].
  62. November 2015: '10 benefits of reading: why you should read every day' by Lana Winter-Hebert, [reading, entertainment, education].
  63. October 2015: 'How much can you really learn while you're asleep?' by Jordan Gaines Lewis, The Guardian, October 6th 2015 [neuroscience, learning, adolescence].
  64. 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].

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

Teaching Vacancy 2024-25

The College has a vacancy for a teacher of English for the coming academic year, to cover all ages from First Year to Leaving Certificate. Go here for further details including applications routes.