Leaving Cert diary: ‘I just wish I could scoop up the books and head outside’

I wanted Sylvia Plath and Seamus Heaney to come up, with Paul Durcan as back-up. All three came up!

Leaving Cert student  Kevin Holland who is sitting his exams at Castlecomer Community School in Co Kilkenny. Photograph: Laura Hutton.

Leaving Cert student Kevin Holland who is sitting his exams at Castlecomer Community School in Co Kilkenny. Photograph: Laura Hutton.

 

First, I want to thank the warm and sunny weather of the past week for making it tough to study. I wish I could scoop up the books and head outside, but find it harder to concentrate away from a desk.

At least I haven’t been alone – it feels like the whole country is doing the Leaving Cert. Of course, they’re not, but we’re in our bubble.

English paper two was in the afternoon, so I had the morning to myself, but I set the alarm around 8.30am and started studying at about 9.30am. I focused on the cultural contexts of my three comparative texts – Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín, Philadelphia, Here I Come by Brian Friel and The Tempest by William Shakespeare – as well as my poems.

I compared the reasons why significant social change did or did not occur within the cultural context established in each of at least two texts; I wrote about how Philadelphia and Brooklyn shared similar themes and were set around a similar time, and how a lack of education in Ireland and stereotypical gender roles stymied social change.

I wanted Sylvia Plath and Seamus Heaney to come up, with Paul Durcan as my back-up if it all went belly-up. And all three came up!

Tricky

Now, the Plath question was tricky, as it asked us “how successfully Sylvia Plath uses stylistic features in an innovative way to convey both overwhelming wonder and unsettling menace in her work.” It was hard and quite technical, so I went for Heaney instead; my primary school principal, John Kelly, is a big fan so he would be proud.

The Heaney question itself was nice and I was able to interpret it to get across what I knew.

Overall, the class were happy with the paper, as I think we all got what we wanted: of the three poets that came up, three were very expected.

I’m one of the few boys in the year to have sat the home economics exam, and I chose the subject because not only does it teach valuable skills, but ties in well with two of my other subjects: business and chemistry.

At the start, some of the boys took a slagging but when others got a taste of home economics in transition year, people saw it as a useful subject.

No Irish exam for me, as I went for predicted grades. It feels like we’re well into it now and I can’t wait for it all to be over and done with so I can start my summer job in Castlecomer Discovery Park.

Kevin Holland is a Leaving Cert student at Castlecomer Community School in Co Kilkenny