Irish Paper 1 (H): Much Tougher Than Previous Years

LC Irish H Paper 1 Analysis 2023

Reaction to Leaving Cert 2023 Irish Paper 1 (Higher Level) by Clare Grealy and Máire Ní Cheallaigh, Irish teachers at The Institute of Education.

  • Much tougher than previous years.
  • A wide range of topics were available, but awkward phrasing and niche issues meant that the practical selection was very narrow.

Cluastuiscint – Aural Exam (Máire Ní Cheallaigh)

The exam started with a broadly accessible listening test, though it did contain a few tricky moments for the students. However, thankfully students had the opportunity to reuse some of the vocabulary prepared for the Sraith Pictuir. This was a useful overlap that would have helped them navigate the piece. The phrasing of several questions was familiar enough that those who had seen last year’s paper will be familiar with “aidhm” (aim) and “deis” (opportunity) in the questions’ demands.

Cuid B’s discussion of a trip to Spain to learn the language will find a useful overlap with Gaeltacht material. Cuid C’s inclusion of Pele was a nod to a topical story and was presented in a broadly accessible manner.

However, this accessibility was not to be found in Section 2.

An Cheapadóireacht – Composition (Clare Grealy)

Many students will have looked at the title with a sigh and think “where do I start?”. This was a much tougher paper than previous years, not just in terms of its topics but also in how questions were phrased. For example, many would have read the question on “things that affect the health of the person”, seen the word “health” and possibly started a discussion on the health service.

In other cases, the vocabulary chosen in the question was potentially likely to drive students away from question they were well prepared for. Many students would have prepared material on Homelessness or Racism. Only if you knew the term “éagóir” meant “injustice” would you understand.

While some prompts were obscured by language choices, others are simply too niche for students to feel confident in the intense setting of the exam hall. How one goes about approaching “Irish in the Digital Age” is something that would perturb teachers, never mind students. Other topics were certainly more immediately culturally relevant (cost of living), one must wonder how much a 17 or 18-year old would have explored this element through Irish. Knowing how to discuss something in English is very different to having those tools in Irish and thus many will be frustrated.

As a result, a paper that had eight compositional choices will most probably see the vast majority of students narrowed down to only two options: Drugs, and Famous People. Even at that, one must wonder how many students had prepared discussions of individuals (Michael D. Higgins, Elon Musk etc.) in the lead up to the exam.

It is important for students to remember that they already have points earned from their oral and have a fresh exam ahead. Hopefully the studied material of Paper 2 has less of opportunity for this paper’s misguided creativity.