Leaving Cert Irish 1: a kind paper

Dream line up of essays in easiest honours Irish exam in years

Spain’s Fernando Torres celebrates with the trophy after winning the 2010 World Cup final. The tournament was one topic students were able to work with.  Photograph: Inpho

Spain’s Fernando Torres celebrates with the trophy after winning the 2010 World Cup final. The tournament was one topic students were able to work with. Photograph: Inpho

Tue, Jun 10, 2014, 00:42

In what has been described as the easiest higher level Irish exam in years, teachers are making comparisons with the Junior Cert as higher level students were offered a dream line-up of essay questions including such soft topics as famous people, human rights and “things that are important in my life”.

“I’ve never heard so many students saying ‘God that was grand’,” said Ruth Morrissey Casey from St Michael’s Community College in Kilmihil, Co Clare. “There was such a nice range of topics. I really hope Paper 2 is just as good.”

Students had a 20-minute listening exam before beginning the composition element of Paper 1. In previous years there had been some consternation about difficult accents on the Irish tapes, but this year even the Donegal Gaelgóir was clear, according to teachers.

Pronunciations

“Apart from one sentence, where it might have been unclear to Dublin students whether the speaker was saying 10 (“deich”) or two (“dó”), all the pronunciations were very clear,” said teacher Oisín Mac Eoin.

“This was a kind paper. It featured all sorts of topics that the students would be able to work with, from the World Cup to technology. Raidió Na Life got its biennial mention. Next year it will likely be Raidió na Gaeltachta,” said Mr Mac Eoin.

The only potential tripwire on the listening comprehension was the word “deochanna súilíneacha”, or fizzy drinks, which many students will not have recognised, but may have been able to figure out from the context, said teachers.

Apart from a very nice range of essay titles, students were also asked to talk about the Irish economy, and whether or not they had discerned a “feabhra”, or improvement, in the country’s economic fortunes.

Sorcha Ní Eideáin of St Kevin’s Community College Dunlavin, Co Wicklow, agreed that the exam was unexpectedly easy.

‘On a plate’

“The essay choice was easier than expected. You couldn’t have asked for a nicer paper really. The examiners were practically handing them points on a plate.”

“Some of it looked more like a Junior Cert paper. I’ll be interested to see if tomorrow is easier too, which might indicate that this is a deliberate move on the part of the examiners. Perhaps they are trying to encourage more students towards higher level Irish because there was very little difference between higher and ordinary.”

The ordinary level paper was described as “very open”. “Students were asked to write about topics that interest them, such as the amount of time they spend on Facebook,” said Ms Ní Eideáin.

Ms Morrissey Casey said ordinary level students would have seen plenty that was familiar to them on Paper 1.