Junior Cert history: Photograph sparks confusion

Renaissance, French revolution and housing in Ireland feature in broad exam

 Dr Cliodhna Ni Lionain  at a  passage tomb site at Dowth Hall, Co Meath. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES

Dr Cliodhna Ni Lionain at a passage tomb site at Dowth Hall, Co Meath. Photograph: Cyril Byrne / THE IRISH TIMES


The Junior Cert history papers were both fair, but students at higher-level may have struggled to identify a tool used by an archaeologist in a photograph on the paper.

Philip Irwin, ASTI subject representative and a history teacher at The High School in Rathgar, Dublin 6, said it was unclear what tool was being used.

“I think it was a brush, but even I couldn’t be certain,” said Mr Irwin.

The picture (see main photograph above) was reproduced from an Irish Times article on the discovery of a passage tomb site at Dowth Hall, Co Meath.

Besides this, Mr Irwin said, there was a good spread of topics in the picture questions, with the Great Famine, archaeology and Marie Antoinette’s execution covered.

This was the second appearance of Marie Antoinette on today’s State exams, with the last queen of France before the revolution also featuring on the Junior Cert higher level French paper.

Kyle Clarke, TUI representative and a teacher at Abbey Vocational School in Donegal, said that the higher level paper was fair with wide-ranging questions that would have suited all candidates.

“Documents included a Renaissance artist, where it was good to see a woman represented here, and students would have had this knowledge,” said Mr Irwin. “There was a good choice in the essay questions. A question attached to a source document about the age of exploration asked students about whether a source was biased and could be trusted; this is exactly the type of evaluation we want to see.”

Students were also asked questions on fascism and housing in Ireland since 1945.

The ordinary level paper contained two questions on archaeology.

“One document focused on a family holiday in Kerry, and the emphasis was one social life of ordinary people, which was a nice albeit unusual question,” said Mr Irwin.

“Overall, the choices were good, although an optional question asking students to write about a person who received land during the Plantations between 1550 and 1660 would have been tricky for some.”

Mr Clarke said added that the ordinary level paper was very accessible for well-prepared candidates.

Try this at home: - Junior Cert history, higher level

In 1912, what name was given to the pledge signed by Unionists to use any means to oppose Home Rule?