Máire Kelly started to learn Irish seriously in 2017 – and secured herself a H3 in this year’s Leaving Cert! She is now attending Dublin City University, undertaking the four-year Bachelor of Education degree programme.
Home-schooled from the age of eight, she has an international qualification that is the equivalent of the Leaving Cert. “But when I decided I wanted to be a primary teacher, I knew that I would need a H4 in Leaving Cert Irish,” said Máire, from Arklow, Co Wicklow. “So I started learning Irish in 2017 – I knew some Irish words but not many. I did an online course at Junior Cert Level and, last year, I went to the Leaving Cert Irish night class in Gorey Community School and got grinds as well.”
Máire was not only motivated by her love of teaching but by a love of languages. “My grandparents spoke Irish and I love languages – I learned Russian using a learning language software programme and now I have pen pals in Russia!”
Work experience teaching crochet in a local Gaelscoil also helped to improve her Irish and she was able study at home alongside her siblings. “I’m pretty self-motivated and able to work on my own, so I did a lot of study at home to complement the classes.”
In Gorey, she found the night class, which runs on Monday and Wednesday nights, hugely beneficial. “The teachers taught us as peers, which was really nice.”
This Leaving Cert for Mature Students night class is specifically designed for students who want to improve a grade achieved previously in Irish so that they can gain entry into courses where a minimum grade of H4 is required. These are typically primary school teaching undergraduate courses. The class focuses on the Leaving Cert oral exam or the Hibernia College Irish interview and on the Leaving Cert higher level written exam paper. People who just want to improve their Irish speaking abilities also attend the class!
“The Leaving Cert exam was OK – the essays I wanted didn’t come up, but I was able to tie in essays that I had prepared. I preferred the Oral Irish exam – I was asked my favourite sraith pictiúr and poem.
“Overall, I found that Irish was a challenging language but I love languages and I really want to be a teacher, so I persevered!”