Month: August 2013

How To Survive The Leaving Cert

This week, most youngsters have returned to school (I feel like an old biddy for saying “youngsters”). For many, they have the misfortune of being in 5th and 6th year. When I was in both years, I was filled with dread and a sense of “how do I get through this”. I can prove to you that it is possible to survive this whether you are in 5th or 6th year. So here’s a guide for both years.

For 5th years:
1) If you thought the Junior Cert course was a lot of work, the Leaving Cert course is even harder. So that is why nobody took you seriously when you were complaining about the Junior Cert back when you did it.
2) If you are feeling that your subject choice was a bad idea or struggling in the first few weeks, ask your teacher for advice, or if you wish to drop down to ordinary level or to change subjects.
3) If you get a teacher you don’t like, give them a chance and you could get along in the long run. Trust me, this is worth it.
4) Most importantly: DO NOT WASTE FIFTH YEAR!!! For the love God, don’t treat it as a doss year! Work as you go along. It makes things easier later on.

For 6th years:
1) Listen to your career guidance councillor in class, especially for the CAO stuff.
2) The CAO usually opens in the beginning of November, so try to register and fill in your courses within the month to avoid doing it at the last minute in late January.
3) When you get your oral exams, you will be introduced to the examiner. Contrary to popular belief, they are nice people who are not out to get you.
4) When preparing for the orals, make a rough script to tailor to your life and your interests. Just don’t go over board.
5) For the love of God, don’t narrow down to just one poet in English!!! If anybody remembers the Plath fiasco of Leaving Cert 2012 you will know why.

For both years:
1) Learn your Irish picture sequences THE MINUTE YOU GET THEM.
2) If you are struggling in a subject and don’t want to drop down: go for grinds. It may be more work, but it makes a huge difference.
3) Try to get sleep and don’t do all nighters. If you’ve seen Inbetweeners, you know what could happen.
4) Be careful of distractions like TV, your phone or the Internet. Studying away from home like study sessions and Lenten bans are two effective methods from personal experience.
5) Though you’ll be making sacrifices, you need a small hobby in your spare time to keep you sane and calm.
6) If things are going badly, don’t give up.
7) Most importantly, remember that you WILL get through this. And you will be fine!

I’m handing the torch the you and I wish you the best of luck!


Last Thoughts On Leaving Cert 2013

As most readers know by now, I did the Leaving Cert this year. To be honest, I’m surprised how I’ve now reached this stage. Many times I’ve believed it would never come. It’s called the Leaving Cert for a reason: I’ll be leaving it all behind. Before I do, I’m going to discuss the people who helped me get there.

The first person I will discuss is Owen O’Keefe. To some of you who may find the name familiar, he is the youngest Irish man to swim the English channel (when he was 16 years old) and he recently swam the river Blackwater (from Fermoy to Youghal). A lesser known fact about this young man is that he is a fluent (and proud) Irish speaker. I struggled with the language for 10 years and was eager to improve back in April 2012. I put out an ad in the local supermarket for grinds and he answered. Most weeks throughout the summer and the school year, we practised the sraith pictúir (picture sequences), the cómhrá (coversation), the cluastiscint (listening questions) and he encouraged me to attempt paper questions and essays. He was patient, friendly, intelligent, and had an extraordinary enthusiasm for Irish.  In the end, my Irish exams went swimmingly and I got a C1 in Higher Level Irish. Míle buíochas Owen!



Owen O’Keefe in action (photo from

The next person I must give credit to is another grinds teacher: Elaine. I first met her in early 2010, when I was doing my Junior Cert. After her helping me get a C in Higher Level Junior Cert Maths, I knew for certain I would need her after Transition Year. With her help, I actually learned maths. Thanks to Elaine, I got a B3 in Leaving Cert Ordinary Level Maths. I may have not needed it for points, by my God, it was satisfying!!

Getting the B3: nice one!
Getting the B3: nice one!

Of course, I cannot thank Elaine without thanking the place that helped me find her in the first place: Fermoy Education Centre. This place is where I studied, had grinds and revision courses, had tea, and chatted to my peers at breaks. In my mind, it was a place of refuge. If that place (and the excellent staff) didn’t exist, my homework would rarely be done on time and I wouldn’t get the points I got.

Lastly, I’d like to thank my family for helping me in the long run; my friends for keeping me sane at lunch time and for making my life much richer; the teachers who encouraged me to get better and stronger; the Hiddlestoners facebook group (fans of actor Tom Hiddleston) gave me their friendship, encouraged me to fight on and helped me edit my French oral scripts; the local café near FEC who made the nicest chicken and relish wraps with tea; and anyone else who gave me inspiration and wished me well. I am truly grateful.

On reflection, it was definitely one of the hardest times of my life. The anxiety, the pressures, the blood, sweat, tears, and the excess amount of coffee. I put all my time, energy and money into this. Of course I had my share of good times too. The praise, the laughs, the charity sleepover, the whole graduation day and the day I finally finished the Leaving Cert. And when I opened that envelope on August 14th and looked at the CAO website on the 19th, I finally saw my future as a reality. Though all these people I mentioned helped me greatly, I was the one who did the Leaving Cert. My best friend once told me that I was the master of my own fate. As I look toward my new life as an Arts International student in University College Cork, I see that she was right.

Here’s to the future!

Opening the envelope: my future in my hands and the past right behind me.
Opening the envelope: my future in my hands and the past right behind me.

4 Ways To Help Out A Bully Victim

Firstly, I would like to thank everyone who has read, liked, commented, favourated, retweeted and reblogged my previous post “Troll In The Dungeon: Why Online Bullies Are The Worst”. I appreciated the fact that something that I wrote made some sort of impact on many people. I would also like to thank those who supported me when I got trolled. If it weren’t for you guys, I wouldn’t have gotten my confidence back.

One comment in particular stood out to me. It was by a woman who got bullied herself in high school. She wrote down 4 ways to help out a bully victim. I felt that this useful information should be shared. So, (with her permission) I have decided to write out the four ways:

  1. Solidarity: Show the victim that they are not alone or isolated.
  2. Intervene: Bullies tend to back off if someone challenges them and puts them in their place. We tend to look away or watch passively. Don’t. Look and act.
  3. Educate: Bullying is not “just fun” or a “misunderstood joke”. Many do not realise how severe the pain they inflict is. What is funny to some, is hurtful to others.
  4. Talk: If someone is showing distress, ask about it. Remember that denial is a common coping strategy and admitting to the abuse makes it real and harder to deal with. If you feel something is wrong, go with your gut, even if they deny it. It is a hard step to admit to the abuse as it also means acknowledging the pain. Give them time to trust you and open up to you. Be there, be gentle but persistent. Talk can also include notifying family members, teachers, priests, or the police (if this is physical abuse).

Honestly, doing these four things can be difficult. Depending on the extent on the abuse and the people involved, you can end up in the line of fire as collateral damage. If you feel that you are not strong enough to stand your ground and take possible flak, then tell someone who is. That be a teacher,a parent, a priest, the police or any other person you think has enough authority to end the situation. 

Doing nothing is not an option.

Troll In The Dungeon: Why Online Bullies Are The Worst

Today, I have decided to blog about one of my serious topics yet: online abuse.

I’ve learned about cyber bullying for years because of SPHE classes and tragic news reports of young people like Phoebe Prince who kill themselves because there are some heartless people who just want to make lives hell for no obvious reason.

Some websites like AskFM and Tumblr have become major hotspots for online trolling and abuse. Why? The answer is easy: it’s anonymous. Perpetrators can target random blogs or accounts and say insulting and disrespectful things in the safety of their own home, shielded by a computer screen.

This trolling abuse has come to light recently when female journalists were targeted on Twitter by trolls with sexist comments, rape and death threats. People became outraged by this unacceptable behaviour and called for Twitter to review its anti-abuse policy. Whether or not this happens is another question entirely.

The reason why I decided to write this post is because I was trolled for the first time in my seven years of internet usage. It all started yesterday when I was looking through pictures of a night club I went to recently on a Facebook. I find a group picture of myself and a group of friends.


Leaving Cert: The Results

The moment we’ve all been waiting (and dreading) for has arrived. Today’s the results for the Leaving Cert. Here’s some advice:

1: Go to the bathroom before getting the results.
2. Bring a calculator and points guide.
3. If you do not get enough points, you have every right to cry and eat lots of chocolate.
4. If you do get enough points, celebrate and celebrate well.

I wish you all the best and I sincerely hope you succeed in whatever you dream for.