Date Published: 01-Jun-2011
You wouldn’t need Jean Byrne in her latest shiny dress to predict that the weather was always going to take a sudden turn for the better this week – after all you only have to hint at the start of the Leaving Cert for the sun to suddenly shine.
And even now – 30 years to the week after I entered the gymnasium in St Mary’s College with my sweaty pen and my unsure future in my hands – the mere thought of the Leaving can still bring me out in a cold sweat.
There are so many people who say their recurring nightmare is to suddenly find themselves sitting at their exam desk with a Maths paper and as many foolscap folders as you could ever need – only to realise that they haven’t studied a single thing for the most important three hours of their life.
That’s the impact the Leaving has and it’s an imprint that never leaves. Time may heal other wounds, but the Leaving Cert is a sore that is opened in perpetuity during the first week of June for the rest of your natural life.
I can’t remember a single thing that came up in a single exam but I can still see myself sitting at the flimsiest of folding desk – with enough room for the exam paper, some writing paper, a pen and, at a push, one elbow – with enough butterflies to qualify for an environmental grant.
And in complete contrast, at no stage in my life since have I experienced the level of euphoria that I felt as I walked out of my final exam more than two weeks later – Home Economics; Social and Scientific as it was, a subject I’d never had a class in or opened a book for and which still earned me a pass in an honours paper.
It must have been how Nelson Mandela felt as he walked from Robben Island – free at last, although there were no cameras to greet us as we exited the giant gates. But against that we didn’t have Winnie hanging onto us for the next few years either.
And now that we were all grown up, we celebrated like we’d won the World Cup, ending up on the floor of some flat off Dominick Street unable to remember your name but still able to remember your Leaving Cert exam number. That was the indelible mark it left on your brain.
It goes without saying that the Leaving Cert is unbelievably cruel and hugely unfair, but you have to have some common test and they still haven’t designed a better one.
Thankfully there’s more emphasis these days on the oral aspect of languages because back then you could get an honour in French or Spanish and not be able to ask for a beer in either country.
But the notion of your future being determined by three hours in an exam hall is ludicrous; for a start, some people perform better than others under that kind of pressure and coolness under fire isn’t an exam subject at all.
Equally – as the cram colleges have proved by taking it to a fine art – there are ways of learning off chunks of your syllabus by rote to the point where it should be called regurgitation as opposed to revision.
The fact that you retain so little of what you learn over the first 18 years of your life for use in any aspect of your life from then on, tells its own story.
It remains one of life’s great mysteries as to how you can spend so long learning something off by heart and then within a matter of minutes it is erased from your memory as though you’d experienced the very early onset of dementia.
Patronising pundits always try to hold up a handful of people who failed their Leaving but still did well in life, as proof that the world doesn’t end with a bad result.
Everyone knows it doesn’t – but a poor result sure stacks up the odds against you.
The pressure that will be placed on 60,000 Leaving Certs next week – and in a relative way on their Junior Cert counterparts – is way too much, but it won’t be changing any time soon.
The only consolation, as they sit there in the shadow of the sunshine, is that life will never ever throw up three weeks as stressful again.
And presuming that all goes reasonably well between now and June 24 at the latest, you can at least look forward to that sense of relief and euphoria that – like the exam itself – you will never experience again.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent
Date Published: 07-May-2013
A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.
That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.
The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.
Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.
Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.
Tuam awaits UK hay import as overnight rainfall adds to fodder crisis
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Tuam is now awaiting a third import of hay from the UK as overnight rainfall has increased pressure on farmers struggling to source fodder.
A total of ten loads are expected at Connacht Gold stores throughout the West with a load expected at the Airglooney outlet this evening or tomorrow.
Farmers throughout the county have been struggling to cope with the animal feed shortage and a below than normal grass growth due to unseasonal weather conditions.
Overnight rainfall in the Galway area has also added to the problem making ground conditions in many areas are quite poor.
Joe Waldron, Agricultual Advisor with Connacht Gold says farmers in short supply can contact the Airglooney outlet on 093 – 24101.
Transport Minister urges end to Bus Eireann strike action
Date Published: 12-May-2013
The Transport Minister is urging drivers at Bus Éireann to engage in talks with management, in an effort to bring their strike action to an end.
There were no Bus Éireann services operating out of Galway today as a result of nationwide strike action by staff affiliated with the national bus and rail union.
Up to 20 Bus Éireann drivers are continuing to picket outside the bus depot at the docks in the city this evening.
Drivers from other unions have decided not to cross the picket line and go into work today – causing the disruption to be even worse.
Bus drivers are protesting against five million euro worth of cuts to their overtime and premium pay – cuts which Bus Eireann says are vital to ensure the future viability of the company.
The majority of services nationwide are disrupted, and the union say strike action will continue until management are willing to go back into negotiations.
However, it’s not expected to affect school services next week.
Galway bay fm news understands that around 70 percent, or over 100 Galway bus Eireann drivers are affiliated with the NBRU.