Junior Cert Irish: Paper 2 'more difficult but fair’

The 90-minute paper is considered the more difficult of the two papers on the Higher Level course

Students sitting the second paper in Higher Level Irish for the Junior Cert on Thursday afternoon encountered a paper that was more difficult than paper one but ultimately was "very fair."

The 90-minute paper, which is generally considered the more difficult of the two papers that higher level students sit in Irish, was broken into three sections - Prós Liteartha (literary prose), Filíocht (poetry) and Litir (letter). Each section is worth 30 marks.

Ruth Morrissey, who is TUI subject spokesperson, and a teacher at St Michael's Community College in Kilmihil, Co Clare said: "The students found paper two slightly more difficult than paper one, but the challenge is always in paper two for higher level students. Some of the terminology can be quite difficult but, that said, the questions were very fair."

In Section 1, students were asked about a time machine in a tract taken from story called An Slogaire Ama by Seán Mac Mathúna and were asked to answer three questions from a selection of six.

John Gavin from LeavingCertIrish.com said: "Most students wouldn't have studied the book but the Irish in it is more contemporary - as opposed to extremely academic - and I think it was a nice piece with very nice fair questions."

Ms Morrissey said time management may have been a challenge for some students. “The (questions) are quite detailed. For students to give a viable response in their own words they would have to read the text and try to grasp an interpretation of it before putting it in their own words - all within 15 minutes. They (the students) are all very conscious of the time.”

In section two, students were presented with two “unseen poems” they had not studied - Litreacha by Mícheál Ó Ruairc and An Páiste Deiridh by Réaltán Ní Leannáin.

The language in both of the poems was “much more accessible and understandable for the students.” said Mr Gavin. The questions would be very similar to the type of questions students would be used to in general reading comprehensions, he said.

“It can be very off-putting when the poems are extremely complex. Students have a limited window of opportunity. they only have 15 minutes really to get through both poems and decide which of the questions they are going to answer and then actually complete the task and write the answers.

“It is really nice to see that the individuals responsible for laying out the paper and those who approved it have taken a very sensible approach because for far too many years the poetry has been a low-point for most students in this exam.”

“There were a couple of phrases that were challenging and there has to be some challenge in it but I think by and large I would have said yes, most students would have made a fairly fist of that.

In section 3, students were asked to write a letter.

“The vast majority of students would have prepared an essay or a story about sport so when a letter comes up about sport or a sporting occasion they attended they should be very happy,” said Mr Gavin.

The second letter option was about Seachtain na Gaeilge - “again that would be a fairly topical issue for third years, something that most of them would have covered at some letter.

The third option, a formal letter about the environment featured “some challenging points.” That might have caught out some people.

Overall, Mr Gavin described the paper as “extremely fair, very balanced and absolutely every student should have been happy”.

He added that when compared with previous years, Paper 2 was “challenging enough but not impossible - and I think that is what people want.”

Éanna Ó Caollaí

Éanna Ó Caollaí

Éanna Ó Caollaí is an Irish Times journalist and editor of the Irish Times Student Hub