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A Different View

The Leaving Cert – a nightmare that just keeps on giving

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Even those who sleep the sleep of the innocent always have one recurring nightmare – it invariably involves a question you’d never anticipated coming up in the Leaving Cert.

And if there’s a week in the year when that doomsday scenario unfolds to upset your slumber, then it’s currently galloping over the horizon like a posse on the trail of a gang of cattle rustlers.

Because this is Leaving Cert season – the one time of the year that weather forecasters can take their holidays, secure in the knowledge that the sun will be splitting the rocks, as the condemned make their way into the study hall with all of the anticipation and bravado of a turkey two weeks before Christmas.

For the rest of us who walked that same walk sometime well back in the last century, the butterflies grow no less intense – all the moreso if one of your own is now going down the state exams route.

Are you sorted for the theorems? What formulas are tipped this year? Will the poet be Plath, Bishop, Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Hopkins or Derek Mahon?

You’ll never have nightmares about College exams or job interviews, because you’ll never be as stressed about any of those things as you will be on the morning of English Paper 1 (Honours or Ordinary Level) next Wednesday morning at 9.30am.

And it’s no consolation that it’s full to the brim of stuff that you’ll never again need for the rest of your life.

I mean, can you imagine a group of oul’ fellas ruminating over their pints, discussing just how Shakespeare’s sonnets provide a fascinating insight into his views on love, death and morality?

And would your life be any less complete if you didn’t know that, if three parallel lines cut off equal segments on some transversal, then they will cut off equal segments on any other transversal?

But that’s the bread and butter of the Leaving Cert – ridiculous questions and absurd formulas about things that are utterly irrelevant to real life because they couldn’t think of anything practical to ask you about.

And in turn – to beat the system – the teachers have spent years coming up with stock answers for these great imponderables…answers to be learned off in advance of the exam, retained for all of three hours and then dumped into the darkest recesses of your maturing mind.

Take this nugget from one helpful student as to how you deal with the ‘poetry question’ – and in fairness this at least offers some nod towards learning.

“Learn an intro and conclusion for each poet and tweak it to the question. Then do about a paragraph or two on each poem and then add a paragraph relating to the question. That’s it really; that’s how I do all my poetry essays.”

Such gems are all over the internet; you can get your hands on full sets of notes – so many that you probably wouldn’t need to go to school at all if you had fibre-optic broadband – or you could trouser up the thousands for cram schools which specialise in showing the short-cut to examination success.

Part of this is down to the fact that students are now locked into this world of academia for longer than ever before. And it has evolved in a manner that suggests it was more by default than design.

In our parents’ time, the Group Cert was the height of most families’ ambition – indeed many didn’t make it past primary school.

But then it because the Inter Cert and gradually – in our time – it was the Leaving. But now a degree is the new Leaving Cert, a Masters is the new degree and a PhD isn’t as farfetched as it was in the good old days.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune

No great rush to mend the error of your ways!

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

It was St Augustine who famously petitioned in prayer: ‘God, make me good – but just not yet’. It’s a sentiment that one Sister Mary Joseph took to whole new levels, because after spending her first 61 years as a high-living heiress, she spent the last three decades as a cloistered nun.

And she closed one chapter to open another one back in 1989 with a party for 800 of her closest friends at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco – so many guests that the hostess carried a helium balloon all night, with the words “Here I Am” so that people could find her amid the throng.

The next day the former Ann Russell Miller flew to Chicago and joined the Sisters of Our Lady of Mount Carmel as a novitiate, spending the rest of her life as Sister Mary Joseph of the Trinity.

Or as one of her 28 grandchildren put it: “It was like The Great Gatsby turned into The Sound of Music.”

Her recent obituary in the Times painted quite the colourful picture of a lover of the high life turned Holy Roller.

“She smoked, drank champagne, played cards, spent five hours a day on the telephone and, as an expert scuba diver and enthusiastic skier, travelled around the world.

“She had a season ticket to the opera, was a high-society patron of many charitable causes and drove her sports car at such reckless speeds that, according to her son Mark, ‘people got out of her car with a sore foot from slamming on an imaginary brake’.”

Because if ever a life could be described as a tale of two-thirds of high living and one-third of contemplation, this was it; the mother of ten who enjoyed the casual company of celebrity friends like Nancy Reagan and Bob Hope opted for an order which allowed her one visitor a month – and even then no touching given the two rows of iron bars between them.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Online games will always give way to world of pure imagination

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

When we were young and Wimbledon came on the telly for two weeks, we’d all rush out to hit a tennis ball off the wall and imagine for an hour that we were Jimmy Connors or Bjorn Borg.

On the odd occasion when we saw live football on TV – the World Cup, the FA Cup Final, or Jimmy Magee covering another false dawn for Ireland at Dalymount Park – we took to the footpath and pretended we were Johnny Giles or Georgie Best.

Jumpers for goalposts, games that went on for hours, fly-goalkeepers, next goal wins – a world of entertainment for the price of a plastic football.

Now when it’s half-time in Sky Sports’ fifth live match of the weekend, the kids still want to play their own version when it’s over. Except they do it on the PlayStation so they never have to leave the comfort of the couch.

Even if we re-enacted the World Cup indoors back in the day, we did it with Subbuteo – so we still got more action and exercise than today’s kids, even if it was just a flick of the fingers.

But in the absence of video games, we did all this with nothing more than our vivid imaginations on a field of dreams that was otherwise a concrete car park or a patch of grass.

We pretended we were Mick O’Connell or maybe Mikey Sheehy (but never Brian Mullins or Jimmy Keaveney) as we fielded balls majestically out of the clouds – even if reality would suggest we hardly left the ground.

It was a world of our imagination where we supplied our own running commentary; these days, FIFA 21 does it for you.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

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Connacht Tribune

We’re at our most sure-footed when we find common ground

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Dave O'Connell

A Different View with Dave O’Connell

When two Irish people meet, they have thirty seconds to find someone they have in common or both of them will die.

It was a Tweet that made me smile recently – but then, thinking a little more, it’s actually so, so true.

We seem lost if we can’t make a common connection, as if six degrees of separation is about three steps too far.

Of course, we’re spoilt in Galway because you’ll never ever meet someone who doesn’t know Michael D; they were either lectured by him, they canvassed for him, they sat beside him in Terryland Park, they chatted with him at the Arts Festival before it had a tent, or they’ve been to a garden party at the Áras.

And once the pressure is off because you’ve made one connection, the rest will flow like soup off Alan Dukes’ fork, as Johneen Donnellan once observed.

It’s a small county in the scheme of things so it shouldn’t be any wonder that we’re well connected – from school or college or work or extended family or geography, we’re a stone’s throw from everyone else.

Half of Mayo, of course, knows Joe Biden – and never has a man had so many fourth cousins once removed (if it gets much worse, he might have to have them forcibly removed) since he got the keys to the big White House.

We can’t claim to know Barack Obama, but half of Galway knows Billy Lawless, who hosted the former Chicago senator in his acclaimed restaurant – we knew Billy as a politician or a publican, in Trigger Martyn’s or the old Twelve in Barna. So that’s close enough.

We’re also familiar with Pat McDonagh, who doesn’t just own Supermac’s; he also owns the Barack Obama Plaza in Offaly. So that’s a second Presidential connection to someone we’ve never actually met.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

 

Continue Reading

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