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LC Irish: A challenging but fair exam, say teachers

A STORY about a teenage mother who comes to a tragic end provided some welcome questions on the higher-level Irish paper yesterday.

Most students would have studied 'An Triail' and the request to contrast two of the characters gave candidates plenty of opportunity to express their viewpoints on the play, according to Robbie Cronin of the ASTI and Marion College in Dublin.

After mixed views on Paper I, the overall verdict for Paper II was that it was a fair exam which may have challenged some pupils, particularly in the 'history of Irish' section.

Clare Grealy of the Institute of Education noted that a different layout in the prose section made it simpler for students to address specific points.

She described the poetry questions as "clear and concise" and said they focused on images, with which many students were happy.

But while Ms Grealy said the often-dreaded 'Stair na Gaeilge' section was particularly favourable, Mr Cronin criticised the decision to ask candidates to express their views on both Irish as a Celtic language and 'an aisling pholaitiuil' (a poet's vision).

Students would have expected to deal with either theme as a full question, he said, adding: "They won't have known how much to write."

The ordinary-level paper included two poems which are popular with students: 'Gealt?' (mad person), which deals with an eccentric man on the bus in his pyjamas and 'Bimse Buan ar Buairt Gach Lo', which has been put to music by Sting and the Chieftains.

Blaithin Ni Liathain, of the TUI and Kylemore College, Ballyfermot, Dublin, said most students would have been delighted to see these.

However, Ms Grealy said: "Many candidates were disappointed that the poem 'Nil aon Ni' did not feature."

Mr Cronin praised the compulsory-question choice of 'Faoiseamh a Gheobhadsa', about the peace that poet Martin O Doireain hoped for on the Aran Islands. "No surprises and a good choice," he said.

However, he had some reservations about the wording of questions on the other two poems, which he felt was unnecessarily complex.

Ms Grealy said the featured film 'Clare sa Speir' was popular among ordinary-level candidates, while Ms Ni Liathain said pupils were also happy with the theme of loneliness in relation to 'An Bhean Og', which she described as "very manageable".

Irish Independent