Tuesday 21 August 2018

Exam Diary: Strange sound was sigh of relief from thousands when Ni Chuilleanáin came up

Leaving Cert student Eboni Burke from Slane, Co. Meath. Photo: Frank McGrath
Leaving Cert student Eboni Burke from Slane, Co. Meath. Photo: Frank McGrath

Eboni Burke

English Paper 2 proved to be three hours and 20 minutes of hand cramps and minds going blank.

It certainly didn't help that today's weather was a scorcher.

Did you hear it? It was the sound of thousands of Leaving Cert students across Ireland breathing a sigh of relief that Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin came up.

I was not one of them, though, having not studied Ní Chuilleanáin's work. In the poetry section, I opted for Robert Frost instead.

With regards to Frost, has anyone out there ever considered his work "dark"?

I never would have thought so before, but there I was rambling along about how his poems were bleak, and trying to come up with ways to prove it.

Also, we had a nice unseen poem, with the themes surrounding time and the beauty and majesty of swans.

A very nice way to break up the studied work and earn some easy marks!

In the Comparative, questions on cultural context (as opposed to general vision and viewpoint) came up, and again, this was a miracle of a question for drained higher-level English students.

I personally love questions regarding cultural context as there's so much to expand upon, namely the role of women, the role of religion, life in socio-economically challenged areas, etc.

Lastly, we come to 'King Lear', the single text. I'm almost certain most Leaving Cert students were hoping for a question on blindness and sight, a theme that's extremely prevalent in 'King Lear', but alas this was not to be.

There were two questions, one asking students to weigh up Cordelia's role against that of her scheming sisters, and one asking students for three dramatic moments in the play that proved to be thought-provoking about the human condition.

If you've ever studied Lear, or indeed any of Shakespeare's plays, you'll know that it would be rife with overly dramatic moments, so there was lots to choose from. I ended up picking that particular question.

To sum up, the paper was actually very fair, and my hand is still throbbing hours after the exam. Onward and upward.

Eboni Burke is a student at Beaufort College, Navan, Co Meath

Irish Independent

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