Monday 20 February 2017

Why the Leaving Cert is the last ritual that can turn nation to jelly

Dermot Bolger

Published 15/08/2015 | 02:30

Alva Casey (left), who got 625 points in her Leaving Certificate with her twin sister Niamh, who got 595 points, from Loreto Dalkey
Alva Casey (left), who got 625 points in her Leaving Certificate with her twin sister Niamh, who got 595 points, from Loreto Dalkey

There are certain things that each generation never forgets. For my generation, who will never again see 40, except on the front of a Finglas bus, it is where we were when David O'Leary scored that unlikely penalty against Romania in Italia 90.

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But one event has united all generations since the introduction of free second-level education: the nerve-wrecking ritual of going back to your old school to receive your Leaving Cert results.

I still recall queuing to enter a parlour in Beneavin College in Finglas. The knot of fear in my stomach was worse than even when I sat my first Leaving Cert exam. My future seemed to be hinged on the impossible weight of all the expectations contained within the lightweight envelope I was handed.

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