The essential aims of teaching English at Senior Cycle is to initiate students into enriching experiences with language so that they become more adept and thoughtful users of it and more critically aware of its power and significance in their lives.

The syllabus builds on the aims of the Junior Certificate English syllabus, which emphasises the development of a range of literacy and oral skills in a variety of domains, personal, social and cultural.

In the Leaving Certificate course, students will be encouraged to develop a more sophisticated range of skills and concepts. These will enable them to interpret, compose, discriminate and evaluate a range of material so that they become independent learners who can operate in the world beyond the school in a range of contexts. English at this level must excite students with aesthetic experiences and emphasise the richness of meanings and recreational pleasure to be encountered in literature and in the creative play of language. Students should be engaged with the voice of literature, learn to dialogue critically with it, and so come to understand its significance and value.

Acclaimed author delights at Roscommon Community College:

Senior Cycle pupils at Roscommon Community College were recently fortunate enough to be visited for a reading and talk by Claire Keegan, author of the superb short story “Foster”. Leaving Certificate and Fifth Year pupils have been studying this text for their comparative literature module and they were thrilled to get the opportunity to meet and engage with this award winning writer. During her time in Roscommon Community College, the highly acclaimed author read aloud several extracts from “Foster”, and afterwards students had the opportunity to pose questions relating to the text and their interpretation of it. “Foster”, according to Keegan is “a long short story” and was the worthy winner of the 2009 Davy Byrnes Short Story Award. Later appearing in “The New Yorker” to rapturous acclaim, the text consequently had the distinction of being published as a standalone book by Faber.

 “Foster” is a beautifully told story about a poor young girl sent to live with more prosperous relatives for the summer. Written from the child’s point of view in the present tense, the story manages to convey that gulf that exists between children and adults. Particularly heartrending is how Keegan conveys the disadvantage that children have in their inability to understand what’s going on in the adult world around them. It’s all the more poignant in “Foster” because the girl comes from a neglectful home and she is being looked after in a loving way for the first time.

Claire Keegan grew up on the Wicklow / Wexford border, studied Literature and Politics at Loyola University, New Orleans, and subsequently earned an MA at the University of Wales and an M.Phil in Trinity College, Dublin. Her debut, “Antarctica”was a Los Angeles Times

Book of the Year.The Observercalled these stories “among the finest recently written in English”. In 2007, “Walk the Blue Fields”, was published to huge critical acclaim and went on to win The Edge Hill Prize for the strongest collection published in the British Isles that year. “Foster”(2010) won The Davy Byrnes Award, judged by Richard Ford who commented that “Keegan is a rarity – someone I will always want to read.” The story was subsequently shortlisted for the 2010 Kerry Fiction Prize and published in “Best American Stories” (2010). Her stories have been translated into twelve languages and it has been remarked that “Every line in the work of Claire Keegan seems to be a lesson in the perfect deployment of both style and emotion”.

When asked how she felt about being on the Leaving Certificate course of prescribed texts, Claire said that she was delighted and that she very much enjoys the idea of her work being exposed to a whole new body of reader. On the themes present in her work, Claire was keen to point out to her audience that “Love can come from anywhere, it doesn’t matter where.” The author sees herself as a critic of her society. “Foster”, set in rural Ireland at the height of the Hunger Strikes in Northern Ireland, is in part a commentary on the plight of families trapped in a cycle of poverty, and destined to have more children than they could love.

Pupils were naturally curious to hear what Keegan had to say about the craft of writing. One of the first things that surprised the audience was that she goes through about thirty drafts before she considers her stories finished. “The first to seventh drafts of the story would not look anything like the final draft” she revealed. When it comes to the craft of the writer, in her view there often isn’t enough priority given to the story, to the point that the story can be completely buried by the writing or even missing altogether. According to Keegan, nowadays there is “too much statement and not enough suggestion”. The novelist is a great believer in “turning down the sound” and observing what people do with their hands and feet and eyes. That’s where the truth is, she said, and that is what she writes about. She won’t tell us someone is miserable and proceed to tell us why over many pages. She will show that misery and the context and let the reader reach their own conclusions. According to Keegan, a mistake that’s often made is that “stories are turned into novels. I would say most books are too long”.

Foster is just short of ninety pages. Not too long, but entirely satisfying. Keegan is right: it feels exactly the right length. She says: “There’s a wonderful Philip Larkin quotation when he says, ‘Why did he think adding was increase? / To me it was dilution.’ I love that. I do think that the more that’s added, the less clearly we see. If we want to see deeply then we’ve got to see through less. We’ve got to discover what is essential to us to understand it more deeply.”

Claire rounded off a most engaging morning by signing copies of “Foster” for the pupils, who were privileged to have met such a prolific writer, the creator of one of the most striking texts on their Leaving Certificate curriculum. Thanks are extended to Claire for taking the time to engage with the students of Roscommon Community College and to Ms. Cullen of the English Department for organising the event.

Leaving Cert English Students attend Hamlet Production

Leaving Certificate English students from Roscommon Community College attended a production of Hamlet in the Dean Crowe Theatre, Athlone on Tuesday 15th November. The Shakespeare play forms part of their Single Text study for their Leaving Certificate English exam. Hamlet harshly exposes some of the horrors the human race is capable of inflicting on itself. The play exposes the darkness that can live in the mind and soul and the cruelty of ones nearest and dearest. Revenge is the driving force for many of the characters but with no real winners!

The day consisted of a performance of Hamlet by the Gaiety School of Acting and the National Theatre School of Ireland. The students participated in a workshop after the production where they discussed the play’s characters and themes. The students were also furnished with a study workbook. The students thoroughly enjoyed their day and benefited greatly from it.

2nd March 2017

All-Ireland Success for Public Speakers

Congratulations to the Senior Public Speaking team at Roscommon Community College as they progress from the Connacht Finals of the Knights of Columbanus Public Speaking Competition to the All-Ireland Finals which will take place in the National University of Ireland, Maynooth on Saturday, March 11th. Calvin Connolly, Daniel Hannon and Sara Marques have been fine ambassadors for our school in this prestigious competition, where students participate in discourse on a range of topics covering issues such as Young Christians, Life and Family Issues, Living the Christian Life, Justice, Peace, and the Integrity of Creation. With guidance from their coach, Ms. Siobhan Cullen, the students conduct research on the topics at hand, and upon gathering supporting evidence from scripture, papal encyclicals, and church teaching, they make their presentations before a panel of nationally selected judges. Well done to all on their success thus far and the very best of luck in the All-Ireland Final. 

Pictured is the Senior Public Speaking team at RCC receiving a presentation from Supreme Knight Barry McMahon as they progress to the All-Ireland
Sara, Daniel and Calvin hard at work during the Question and Answer session of the recent Knights of Columbanus Public Speaking Competition