Leaving Cert Irish paper 2: Brexit and BLM feature on ‘fair and manageable’ paper

Many students ‘glad they sat the exam’ and feel effort was worthwhile, teachers report

Leaving Cert students prepare for their exams at Sutton Park School, Sutton, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Leaving Cert students prepare for their exams at Sutton Park School, Sutton, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill


Students and teachers have said the Leaving Cert higher-level Irish paper two was fair and manageable.

John Gavin, founder of LeavingCertIrish.com, said the reading comprehensions were interesting and topical, with students, for the first time, having a choice as to which comprehension to answer.

“Having spoken to quite a number of my own students, the general feeling was that this was a very fair paper overall and every student who put in some effort was pleased,” Mr Gavin said. “Many students stated that they were glad they sat the exam and felt that the effort was worthwhile.”

Emer McTernan, Studyclix.ie expert and a teacher at Mercy College in Sligo, agreed. “The first reading comprehension was a biographical account of the life of John Hume describing him as ‘A Hero of Peace’,” she said. “The second reading comprehension gave students a snapshot of events of 2020 but interestingly enough did not focus on the Covid pandemic – instead dealing with topics such as the US presidential election, Brexit and the Black Lives Matters movement.”

Both teachers said students were delighted to see Oisín i dTír na nÓg appear on the paper, as had been widely anticipated. “A sigh of relief was probably heard in the socially distanced exam halls this year,” said Mr Gavin.

In the extra literature section, however, Ms McTernan said some words may have caused difficulty. “The phrasing of the ‘An Triail’ question may have thrown those not familiar with the verb ‘diúltaigh’ [to refuse] and the term ‘in am a gátair’ [in her time of need].”

On the ordinary level paper, Ms McTernan said students had a broad choice on the prescribed poetry and prose section of the exam.

“Students were undoubtedly pleased to see the appearance of the anticipated Cáca Milis on the exam. The phrasing of the poetry questions was very fair and in keeping with recent trends, with most candidates opting to tackle the ‘Géibheann’ question which proves to be a firm favourite among students every year. A knowledge of technology-related terminology was required for the first reading comprehension while the second comprehension focused on the big sporting stories of 2020.”

Mr Gavin said some of the questions on comprehension B were difficult for this level. “Phrases like ‘dhá chúis mhórtais’, ‘iarthráchtaire’ and ‘searmanas cuimhneacháin’ would have proven a challenge for many of the less fluent candidates, but there were no issues whatsoever with the literature questions on the ordinary level paper,” he said.

Try this at home: Leaving Cert Irish paper 2

“An Triail”

‘Sa dráma An Triail, tugtar léiriú dúinn ar chás an chailín óig, Máire Ní Chathasaigh, nuair a dhiúltaíonn go leor de na daoine timpeall uirthi cabhair a thabhairt di in am a gátair.’ Déan plé ar an ráiteas sin.