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Thursday 18 September 2014

Heaney makes a welcome return

LC English (Higher)

Katherine Donnelly and Nicola Anderson

Published 06/06/2014 | 02:30

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Seamus Heaney's appearance on the paper was welcomed by students
Seamus Heaney's appearance on the paper was welcomed by students
Laois Rose Teresa Maria Brennan with Colaiste Pobail students Megan Ni Chaisin, Rachel Ni Dhorchaide and Moya Emily.

STUDENTS were positively beaming as they emerged from Paper 2, according to teacher Fintan O'Mahony.

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Seamus Heaney had a lot to do with it, as he turned up for the second day in a row, although again in an unexpected place – the unseen section rather than prescribed poetry.

Mr O'Mahony, Scoil Mhuire, Greenhill, Carrick on Suir, Co Tipperary, and the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), said the choice of Heaney's 'The Peninsula', which featured widely in writings about the late poet after his death last year, was a good one and with "very nice" questions .

In Prescribed Poetry, he thought the Dickinson and Plath questions "really interesting" while Larkin was more "standard" fare.

Meanwhile, Jim Lusby of the Institute of Education, Dublin, said this section presented stimulating and challenging quotations for discussion on a very fair range of prescribed poets. After Heaney, the other banker for most candidates, Emily Dickinson, made a welcome appearance.

In the Single Text section, 'Macbeth' is the most popular option and Mr O'Mahony liked the question about relationship with other characters and power struggles.

The second question on dramatic techniques was also a "good one", allowing students to think of Shakespeare's texts as plays rather than books.

Mr Lusby thought Single Text a "fair and well thought-out section". He said the question on 'Macbeth' was complex, while the one dramatic technique looked intimidating but was quite comfortable.

LC English (Ordinary)

A WELL planned paper was a "delight for students" and "pretty much off the shelf", according to teachers.

Cathy Sweeney, English teacher at The Institute of Education, said the questions on 'Macbeth' were student-centred, while the comparative study section was accessible.

Fintan O'Mahony of Scoil Mhuire, Carrick on Suir, Co Tipperary, and TUI said the whole paper was "really well planned" with good questions in the Comparative Study section.

The unseen poetry, 'Coming Home' by Owen Sheers, which describes a visit home by the poet and the passage of time, was a "fairly good choice".

Seamus Heaney came up – which was no surprise, according to Ollie Power of Deansrath Community College, Clondalkin, Co Dublin, and TUI, with the printed poem being 'The Underground' – a love poem to Heaney's wife, Marie.

Ms Sweeney thought 'The Underground' was a "relatively complex poem" for ordinary level students – but said the questions offered scope for students to discuss other Heaney poems on the course.

Overall, all three teachers were happy with this paper, saying it had contained no hidden shocks or surprises.

Irish Independent

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