Leaving Cert diary: ‘I’m holding out to binge watch Black Mirror when the exams end’

Avril Healy believes her love of drama helped her through the two English papers

Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh Leaving Cert student Avril Healy. Photograph:  Arthur Ellis.

Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh Leaving Cert student Avril Healy. Photograph: Arthur Ellis.


I’ve been in stage school for 12 years, but I had to say goodbye to all that when sixth year came around.

But my love of drama and musical theatre has now seen me safely through both English exams.

Our class studied Shakespeare’s Macbeth - I know it’s not a play beloved of most modern students, but I enjoy it, particularly because Macbeth’s character is so intriguing and complex.

I’ve always loved English. Growing up, I used to write stories and, through taking part in plays every year, I’m well-used to learning lines and scripts, which is, in turn, really helpful for Leaving Cert English.

It was a surprise to many students that Seamus Heaney didn’t appear on the paper, as he had not come up in years. On the other hand, people were relieved to see a question on Sylvia Plath.

I answered a question on Brendan Kennelly, as I like the range of emotions in his poetry and how he creates interesting characters. As for Yeats, who also appeared, I find his poetry harder to learn and not very relatable.

The first English paper, which we sat on Wednesday, was quite nice and not too hard. I liked the reflective journal entry asking us to imagine we were leaving an uninhabitable planet on a spaceship, as it was a really good way to talk about climate change.


I avoided panicking in the run-up to the exams, but I don’t think the enormity hit me. I balanced study with plenty of breaks so that I didn’t burn out. Besides going to school every day for study until 3.45pm, the only normal parts of my life have been going to the Lime Tree Stage School to help with upcoming productions, and watching TV.

Right now I’m watching Black Mirror on Netlfix; it’s good entertainment, yes, but their self-contained shows are also really thought-provoking and they touch on a lot of different themes. I haven’t had a chance to watch the three new episodes of season five, but I’m holding out to binge watch them when the exams are over. Will they ever be over?

One thing I know is that when they are, I’ll have a nice relaxing summer, catching up on down time and hanging out with my friends. We might head to Kilkee or down to Kerry for a break. If I get into science teaching at UL, I’m hoping to stay involved in drama, and they have an active drama society there. Drama has done so much to help me come out of my shell and to discover my love of musicals, singing and dancing.

Who knows: maybe one day I will get my big break.