Sunday 17 November 2019

Going to college: Applying to the CAO and exemptions from Irish

Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh
Guidance counsellor Aoife Walsh
Aoife Walsh

Aoife Walsh

Some CAO applicants may be seeking an Irish or third language exemption for entry to third level. These exemptions are widely available for applicants who, for a variety of reasons, do not take these subjects.

There are forms that must be completed and submitted to the particular institution(s) to which a student has applied. Given that this is a quiet time for CAO, and the stress of the final school term has not yet begun, now is the time to get started.

Irish is considered a core subject and it is a requirement for entry to a number of third-level institutions. These include all NUI institutions, i.e. University College Dublin, University College Cork, NUI Galway, Maynooth University and the Royal College of Surgeons.

For NUI colleges, a student who has not studied Irish or a modern European language (if they have a specific learning difficulty) in school, may apply to be exempt from these requirements. Students must apply for these exemptions by printing and completing the relevant forms from and returning them to the NUI offices in Merrion Square, Dublin.

Trinity College Dublin and the University of Limerick require students to pass English and another language, which can cause problems for students who do not take Irish or a modern European language at Leaving Cert level. It is possible for students who do not take Irish and a European language to be exempt from these requirements in certain circumstances.

In the case of Trinity, where applicants are required to pass English and another language for entry, students not taking Irish or any other language as a result of a learning difficulty may apply to the admissions office at the college and seek to be exempted from this requirement. Forms are available from

University of Limerick has a similar requirement for English and another language, and students can apply for an exemption in writing to the college. Applicants will find more information on the admissions section of its website,

Dublin City University and the institutes of technology require entrants to present with maths and English or Irish, therefore there is no need to apply for exemptions from Irish for these colleges.

Aoife Walsh is a guidance counsellor at Malahide Community School, Co Dublin

Irish Independent

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