Saturday, 16 November 2013

'Macbeth' Podcasts

The link below will prove an invaluable study tool for our 6th years studying 'Macbeth'.  The link will bring you to a series of podcasts from Alan Stanford (Actor, Director and Writer) along with RTE Radio 1.  The podcasts are recorded discussions with previous Leaving Cert Students commenting on the main characters, themes and key moments in the play.
It is well worth a listen and we highly recommend our Leaving Certs to download the MP3s, stick them on your phone or ipod so that you can listen to them while out for a walk!

Here's the link:
RTE 'Macbeth' Podcast



Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson appears on the 2014 and 2015 Leaving Certificate curriculum.  Ever the popular poet due to her unique style of writing, the following links may prove helpful to all our 5th and 6th year students who are studying her poetry.

A video of Dickinson's poem, 'I heard a Fly Buzz - when I died'

A detailed biography of Emily Dickinson:

A fantastic website from Harvard University that contains images of Dickinson's manuscripts:

Notes on Dickinson's poetry from The Dublin School of Grinds

BBC 'Great Lives' episode on Dickinson's life and poetry (30 minutes long)

Monday, 21 October 2013

New 1st Year Book Review Blog!

All of our 1st year English classes are enjoying their 'Library Day' which occurs during one of the English classes each and every week.  At the beginning of the year, each girl contributed a least one novel to their Class Library.  On their chosen Library Day, girls are able to choose and then read their novel over the coming weeks.  Each 1st year is encouraged to read at least one novel each term and once they have finished their novel, they then write up a short review to share their thoughts with their classmates.  One class, Class Almas, have created a book review blog which they have called, 'Chapter by Chapter'.  They have been posting fantastic reviews of the novels they have read since starting 1st year.  So please click on the link and become inspired by our 1st years to pick up a novel and begin reading!

Transition Year Reflections...

As part of their Transition Year English class with Ms Ryan-Widdis, TY students were asked to choose a poem that made a strong impact on them. Some of the poems that were chosen were from their Junior Cert course but students also included poems that they encountered outside of school.  Please click on the link below to see which poems have left an indelible mark on the girls!

TY Poems

Please feel free to email us your favourite poem:

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A Reflection on Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum Est'

As part of their Transition Year poetry module, students are compiling a list of their favourite poems.TY student Aisling O'Flynn has a written a reflection on her favourite poem: 'Dulce et Decorum Est' by Wilfred Owen.  

Please enjoy the poem and then click on the link to read Aisling's reflection.

Aisling's reflection on 'Dulce et Decorum Est'

Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned out backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!--An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori. 

Wilfred Owen

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Sylvia Plath : A Disturbing Experience?

Our 5th years are currently studying the poetry of Sylvia Plath as part of their Leaving Certificate course.  One of our pupils Courtney Graves has very kindly submitted an essay on her experience of reading Sylvia Plath.  Courtney has come all the way from Connecticut to study here in St Michael's for the year. Welcome Courtney, we are delighted to have you studying with us!

Please click the link below to read Courtney's fascinating and insightful essay.

Courtney's Essay

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Essay Competition for TYs, 5th Years and 6th Years!

The Faculty of Law, University College Cork, invites all post-junior certificate students to submit an essay of approximately 1,000 words on one of the following topics:

1. It is now time to jail bankers and politicians. Discuss.
2. Do children get a fair hearing in family courts?
3. Gay Marriage – the obvious next step or a step too far?
4. Should "whistle-blowers" be protected?
5. It has been argued that the Property Tax and Water Charges are unfair taxes. Is it ever right to ignore a law because it is unjust?
6. Are sentences in criminal cases too lenient?
Anyone that is interested in entering the competition can click on the link below or ask their English teacher for more information!

Essay Competition Entry Form

Friday, 20 September 2013

Trinity College Evening Lectures Series 2013: English Literature

Trinity College Library
Every Tuesday from October 8th until December 10th, Trinity College Dublin will be running a series of individual lectures on the major authors of poetry, drama and prose prescribed for the Leaving Certificate in 2014.  Any 6th year student who is interested in attending the lectures, please click on the link below for further information regarding dates and cost.

Trinity College English Lectures Information

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Dublin Theatre Festival 2013

The Dublin Theatre Festival is back again this year beginning on the 26th September.  This is an 18 day celebration of the best of Irish and international theatre.  
Take a look at the exciting programme below to see what's on offer!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

A Poem From Mrs Ryan...

Mrs Ryan, from our History and Business Department, has very kindly shared one of her favourite poems by Thomas Ashe.  This is a beautiful little poem and is very appropriate for the beginning of the new school year.  Please feel free to email us your favourite poem at

"Beautiful Hands"
Beautiful hands are those that do,
Work that is earnest, brave and true,
Moment by moment,
the long day through.

Friday, 13 September 2013

"Happy Roald Dahl Day!"

The official Roald Dahl Day takes place every year on 13 September, on the birthday of the World's No. 1 Storyteller. In 2013, Roald Dahl Day coincides with Friday 13th - the perfect excuse for even more mischief and mayhem than usual!

Take a look at the link below for more information on Roald Dahl:

Friday, 30 August 2013

Seamus Heaney 1939 - 2013 (aged 74)

The sad news broke today that Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney passed away after a short illness.  

See below for reactions and coverage to this sad news:

In honour of Seamus Heaney, we would like to post our favourite poem written by him.
Here, Heaney is reading his poem 'Scaffolding' at the Faber offices on the occasion of his 70th birthday:

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Welcome Back!

"There are two motives for reading a book:
one, that you enjoy it; the other, that you can boast about."
- Bertrand Russell
Welcome back everyone to the beginning of a brand new school year.  No doubt you are all fully rested after a wonderful summer and you are looking forward to exploring many new and exciting worlds that your novels, plays and poems will offer you over the next nine months.
Hopefully some of you read some really interesting novels over the summer months and we, in the English Department, would love to hear what novels captivated you!  Please send us an email naming the novel(s) you read with a short paragraph telling us your thoughts.  We look forward to reading your reviews and sharing them with everyone here!
"What really knocks me out is a book that, when you're all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you can call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it."
- J.D. Salinger

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Leaving Cert English 2013 Exam Papers

The relief was palpable on the corridors of St Michael's on Thursday evening with all of the Leaving Cert students delighted that the anticipated English exams were over.  Before the exams, nervous chatter dominated the corridors...'Have you studied Plath?'...'I hope 'kingship' will appear'...'Please let the theme come up in our comparative'...Thankfully, everyone emerged from their exam centres at 5.20pm clutching their sore writing hand with smiles and tiredness etched on their faces.  The English papers, at both levels, offered the students plenty of choice and allowing them enough scope for their ability to shine through, while simultaneously challenging them to think critically and assess their knowledge of the English course.  Well done, you can fully enjoy reading novels, plays and poetry safe in the knowledge that you won't have to justify your thoughts and feelings on pages of refill paper!

Leaving Cert Higher Level Paper 1
Leaving Cert Higher Level Paper 2

Leaving Cert Ordinary Level Paper 1
Leaving Cert Ordinary Level Paper 2

Friday, 24 May 2013

'Pride and Prejudice' Survey Report

A survey of eight questions was delivered to all Transition Year and Fifth Year students at Loreto Secondary School, St. Michael’s, Navan. The survey formulated by eighteen Fifth Year students took place in March of this year. The reason for the survey was twofold: the students were curious as to what their peer group thought about the novel and secondly, they wanted to raise awareness about this great read: Pride and Prejudice.'  Well done to Ms Thomas and her fifth year English class!

Here's the link to their report:

'Pride and Prejudice' Survey Report

Friday, 17 May 2013

1st Year Book Review Podcasts

Our 1st year students have been reading lots of novels this year during their Class Library time slot.    Please click on the links below to hear the girls sharing their views on their chosen novels!  This will be the first of many posts with the girls' stayed tuned for more podcasts in the coming days!

'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' - Caoimhe O'Brien
'It's A Long Way From Penny Apples - Claire Reilly
'Just Getting Started' - Lauren Kavanagh
'Million Dollar Mates' - Megan Fox
'Out Of Time' -Rebecca Seery Running

Our Day Out!

2nd year English students are studying Willy Russell's play 'Our Day Out'.  To aid revision for their summer tests, Mrs Harney's 2nd year students Emily Muldoon and Lauren Kearney created a 'Glogster' inspired by the play!   
A summary of the play:
The play centres on a school trip to Conwy Castle in North Wales. Mrs. Kay teaches a remedial class for illiterate children, called the "Progress Class". The whole class - along with Digga and Reilly, the slightly older class bullies who used to be in the Progress Class - are taken on a coach trip. At the last minute, the Headmaster commissions Mr. Briggs, the authoritarian Deputy Headmaster, to supervise the trip.

On the way to the Castle, the coach stops at a petrol station with a snack shop, where the students take advantage of the storekeepers' confusion to shoplift sweets and snacks, unbeknownst to the teachers supervising. It makes a second stop at a zoo, where the students enjoy the animals so much that they try to steal most of them. The zoo attendant discovers this just in time before the coach pulls out, and makes them return the animals.

When the coach finally reaches the Castle, the students race around exploring the grounds, cliffs and beach. Soon it's time to leave, but one of the best-behaved students, Carol, is missing. A search ensues and Mr. Briggs finally finds Carol, who is depressed because she doesn't want to return to the bad conditions at her home. She wants a better life and wishes she lived in a nicer area, like that which surrounds the Castle. She becomes so upset that she threatens to jump off the cliff. Mr. Briggs, who up till this point has acted like a harsh disciplinarian, policing the students' bad behaviour and expressing doubts that they should even be allowed to have an outing, shows a more understanding side as he convinces Carol not to jump and to rejoin the rest of the group. The coach makes one more stop at a fairground where the students have some more fun before returning home.

An even softer side of Mr. Briggs is observed, as he joins the students on some of the rides. He even goes as far as wearing a "Kiss Me Quick" hat, and joins in with the sing-song on the journey home, all of which is photographed by Mrs. Kay. She comments on how she never knew he had a softer side, and that he certainly wouldn't be able to get away from the fact now she had evidence. Being a keen photographer, he offers to develop the photos, and even convert them into slides so he can do a talk for the students. This is the perfect escape for Mr. Briggs. Not wanting to let anyone see his other side, once he returns to his car, he unravels the undeveloped films, exposing them to daylight and so ruining them, with a clear explanation of them "not coming out".

Along the way, two young teachers, Susan and Colin, who are helping Mrs. Kay supervise, must also deal with the fact that Digga and Reilly have a crush on Susan while two older girl students have a crush on Colin. Susan and Colin solve their problem by subtly suggesting that Digga and Reilly should turn their attentions to the two girls.
The glogster created by Emily and Lauren:

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Lights, Camera, Action...!

Transition Year classes Tara and Boyne spent Wednesday and Thursday at Kairos TV Studios where they shot their own twenty minute television programme.  Both classes prepared for the trip by writing their own scripts and creating their props.  Class Tara's chose to write a script entitled, 'Tara's Takeover' where they reminisced on their top moments from their Transition Year experience, while Class Boyne decided to re-create their own 'JeremyKyle' show by putting their own unique spin on the show's storylines.
Here are some photos of the girls during rehearsals!

Friday, 3 May 2013

"Casablanca" on the Big Screen!

August 14th sees Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman come to the big screen in the Solstice Arts Centre!    This captivating wartime adventure of romance and intrigue tells the story of Rick Blaine, a world-weary ex-freedom fighter who runs a nightclub in Casablanca during the early part of WWII.  His world is turned upside down with the arrival of Ilsa and her husband Victor Laszlo.

A lot of our 5th and 6th year students are studying this film for the Leaving Certificate, so  for 6.50euro you can view this fantastic film on the big screen with popcorn in hand!  Please click on the link for further details on booking your ticket! 

"Casablanca" on the Big Screen!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Kevin McDermott Visits Loreto!

Mrs Harney’s  1st year English class invited Kevin to visit their class to discuss creative writing and his latest novel, “Valentina” . He very kindly accepted our invitation and spoke to the girls about becoming a writer and gave them tips to help their own writing. He spoke of a creative writing project he has been involved in with another school and we look forward to reading the fruits of this venture. We have been very fortunate in the past to have been involved in one of Kevin’s previous short story projects and know how exciting and enjoyable they are!
Many thanks to Kevin, for his visit, advice and the beautiful posters he brought out to us.
Click for more information: Kevin McDermott

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

"Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck

As part of their Junior Cert English course, Ms Keena's 3rd year class prepared alternative covers for their novel, 'Of Mice and Men' by John Steinbeck.  Two students who produced fantastic front covers were Emily Verhulst and Martina O'Neill.  Above is a front cover that was published but to see the girls' work please click on the link below!  Well done girls on a great job! 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

William Shakespeare's birthday is 23rd April, so 'Happy Birthday William!'  You can click on the link to help you freshen up your Shakepearean knowledge before the big birthday next week!  William Shakespeare Biography.  Over the coming days we will be posting some funny and interesting Shakespearean lines!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

One City, One Book

Although we are all living in Meath, we could not but mention the fantastic 'One City, One Book' initiative by the Dublin City Council which is led by Dublin City Public Libraries.  This event encourages everyone to read a book connected with the capital city during the month of April every year. Last year readers had the privilege of reading James Joyce's 'Dubliners'.
The chosen book for April 2013 is "Strumpet City" by James Plunkett.  Those of you studying History or the poetry of W.B.Yeats may be particularly interested as the novel is set during the 1913 Lock-Out.  Here's a link to the website encouraging us all to pick up the novel and learn about our capital city...

Monday, 8 April 2013

Megan Fox - Our 1st Year Poet!

1st year student Megan Fox from class Emma's loves to write poetry in her spare time and she has kindly allowed us to publish one of her poems entitled 'Seasons'.  Well done Megan!
Spring is windy
Spring is cold

The colourful wild flowers
Could be sold
Summer is sunny
Full of life
As the summer creeps in
Bringing lots of delight
Autumn is wet
With mud on our shoes
As treasure hunts begin
We search for clues
Winter is snowy
With excited children everywhere
As Santa leaves the little girl
A cuddly teddy bear

Friday, 22 March 2013

Six Word Story Competition Winners!

With over one hundred entries our  'Six Word Short Story Competition' has been a great success.  Transition Year class Tara's debated and argued as they tried to narrow down the very strong entries.  The standard was very high and included entries from all year groups from both Higher and Ordinary classes.  But finally after all of the debating, the top three were chosen! 

And so the winners are:

1st Place:  (15euro Easons Voucher) 
By:  Lauren Moriarty (5th year)

2nd Place:  (Easter Egg)
By: Kelly Harris (5th year)

3rd Place:  (Easter Egg)
By Melanie Arutunyan (1st year)

Well done girls, these are fantastic 'Six Word Stories'!  We all look forward to reading your work in the future!

To read all of the entries, please click on the link below...
Six Word Story Entries

Thursday, 21 March 2013

'First Death in Nova Scotia' and 'Mid Term Break'

As part of their study of the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, 5th year students Hannah McMahon, Aisling Taaffe and Dearbhla Maguire noted the differences in the treatment of the theme of death by Elizabeth Bishop and a poet from their Junior Cert days, Seamus Heaney!  Comparing both 'First Death in Nova Scotia' and 'Mid Term Break', Aisling, Hannah and Dearbhla made some very interesting observations and communicated them in a beautifully fluent manner.  Well done girls!

21st March 2013 - International Poetry Day

World Poetry Day was declared by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) in 1999 and is celebrated on 21 March.  The aim is to promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry.  According to UNESCO: 'World Poetry Day is an invitation to reflect on the power of language and the full development of each person’s creative abilities'.
The English Department have decided to share with you a beautifully crafted poem written by Leo Marks.  What is fascinating about this poem is that he wrote it on Christmas Eve 1943 and he gave the poem to Violette Szabo on March 24th 1944 to use as code during the Second World War.  The poem is entitled: 'The Life That I Have' or it is sometimes referred to as 'Yours'.

The Life That I Have

The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause.
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

Please feel free to email your favourite poems to us at:

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop, the American poet, is on both the 2013 and 2014 Leaving Certificate English course.  She is a firm favourite with students for her accessibility, as well as her thought-provoking themes and vivid imagery.  Here is a list of websites the English Department have put together that may be useful for Leaving Certificate students studying Bishop for their exams.

Monday, 11 March 2013

'The Fish' by Elizabeth Bishop

Please click on the video below to view a short video based on 
Elizabeth Bishop's poem, 'The Fish'. 

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Leaving Cert English Syllabus 2015

The Department of Education have just published the prescribed material for the Leaving Certificate English Examination in 2015.  So for those of you beginning 5th year in September 2013 you might like to click on the link below to see what novels, plays, films and poems you will be studying!  

Students are always eager to learn which of Shakespeare's plays are on their course...and for you lucky 2015 candidates, you will have the pleasure of studying 'Othello' as a Single Study Text or 'King Lear' as part of your Comparative Course!


Friday, 8 March 2013

Acrostic Love Poetry

In the run up to St Valentine's Day, Ms Watters' 1st and 2nd year English classes ran 'An Acrostic Love Poetry Competition'.  Well done to all the girls who participated, the standard of creativity was excellent.  

Special congratulations to the winners: Orla Doherty, Roisin Duffy and Claire Mallon.  

Click the link to read some of their fantastic poems: Winners of 1st Year Acrostic Poetry Competition

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

School Days....are they the best days of your life!?

Helen Yuen, from Ms Thomas' English class, has written a lovely poem about being a Loreto student and what it means to her!  She has very kindly given us her poem to publish to help inspire us all to pick up our pens during 'World Book Month' and get our creative juices flowing!
School Days, Happy Days!
I'm always happy when I'm with my friends,
I stand by them until the very end,
Sometimes they understand how I feel,
And say a prayer for me when they kneel.
Our school Mass is lots of fun,
It is very meaningful for everyone,
Every smile in the room brightens my day,
From early morn until the noon.
All together, everyone,
We're like a family becoming one,
We greet each other with laughs and smiles,
Or hang around for a little while.
All these moments will stay with me,
For soon they will become a memory,
As time goes on I ask you please,
To answer my prayer and remember me.
Written by: Helen Yuen
(Ms Thomas' English Class)

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Single Text In Focus

This evening some members of the English Department attended a conference on correcting the Single Study Text for the Leaving Certificate.  Raymond Frawley, former Chief Examiner of the Leaving Certificate English Examinations, provided '10 Commandments' for students to remember when they are answering their Single Study question and five things that examiners look for when they are correcting this question.  Try to remember these tips when you are writing your next essay! 
  1. Keep your personal response at the heart of your answer
  2. Keep your focus on the question at all times
  3. Analyse and discuss the text
  4. Give your opinions with conviction and energy
  5. Write fluently
  6. Make clear connections between paragraphs
  7. Be confident that you can assess the success of the writer's style
  8. Don't give large chunks of summary
  9. Don't give unfocused character sketches
  10. Don't skim the surface of the text - dig deep
"A sound understanding and a genuine appreciation of the features of the writing"
"A genuine interest and perceptive analysis of the text"
"Students should engage clearly and never lose focus of the question"
"You can't beat passion and energy, allied to good knowledge of the text"
"Make a convincing and compelling argument that is well supported
with judicious quotation"

Monday, 4 March 2013


14,500 Transition Year students from all over Ireland entered the National Press Pass Journalism Competition in October and our very own Aine O'Connell was awarded 2nd place for her Feature article:  'When Bubbles Burst and People Pay'.  Aine was presented with her award by Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Wednesday 27th February in the Convention Centre in Dublin.  Well done Aine and we are all looking forward to reading your work in the future!

To read Aine's article, please click 'When Bubbles Burst and People Pay'

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Six Word Story Competition!

Please visit our COMPETITION page to see how you can enter our story competition 
and be in with a chance of winning of a book token! 


Welcome to the new blog by Loreto Secondary School's English Department!

We're just getting started here but soon our site will be full of useful links, notes, videos and podcasts.  We also hope to use the site for English Dept announcements and to showcase the talented writers of Loreto Secondary School, Navan!