English Department

This page is an overview of English as a subject at Colaiste Eanna .

The Department meets formally and informally frequently throughout the year and closely co-ordinates both policy and practice. The role of subject co-ordinator is rotated on an annual basis.


Mr. R. Merriman

Ms. C. Egan

Ms. M. Hartnett

Ms. D. Donlon

Ms. A. Mannion

Mr M. Tracey


English is a core subject for every pupil at Colaiste Eanna. Pupils preparing for Junior Certificate have four lessons a week, transition year students have three lessons and fifth and sixth year have five lessons each week. Classes are mixed ability. Where appropriate and when numbers allow Ordinary level English is offered at senior level.

Junior Cycle

All pupils sit the Junior Certificate examination at the end of third year, and the previous years lead up to this exam. We aim to give a broad grounding in the basics of language and literature. Students are encouraged to develop their own writing. In recent years the library has been renovated. Teachers bring their class groups for a supervised reading class, this gives students the opportunity to develop and maintain the habit of reading. Suggested reading lists for junior and senior students are available.


The Junior Certificate exam is divided into language and literature elements (in two separate papers at Higher Level). In third year, for drama teachers study a Shakespeare play (such as The Merchant of Venice) or a contemporary play (such as John B Keane’s The Field); in fiction, a novel such as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is studied, and the wide reading of other novels is encouraged. A similar mixture of fiction and drama is covered in first and second year (books such as William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, David Almond’s Skellig and Michael Murpurgo’s Private Peaceful). Poetry is covered in a wide-ranging programme that starts in first year and covers a mix of traditional and modern poems.

The Department also sets papers for Christmas and summer exams.

Transition Year

The English Department has created a course which focuses on developing pupils’ writing and reading skills and bridging the considerable gap between the Junior and Leaving Certificates.

Pupils study drama (such as J.M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World and Beckett’s Waiting for Godot), fiction (Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men) and a variety of poems.  They complete a Work Portfolio of short pieces of writing (stories, personal descriptions, essays) which is submitted at the end of the year. The Work Portfolio develops the crucial skills of drafting and re-drafting.

Senior Cycle

The Department follows the official Leaving Certificate course for these two years. The majority of pupils take higher level. The groupings are mixed ability. Where needs arise and the opportunity exists there have been occasions when an ordinary level class has been created.

The Leaving Certificate itself is divided into two papers, the first concentrating on language tasks (comprehension and composition), and the second on literature. Therefore we study one major Shakespeare play (King Lear, Macbeth, Hamlet or Othello), three texts (novels, plays and films) as part of a comparative question (such as, in recent years, Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa, Bernard MacLaverty’s Lamb, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Jennifer Johnston’s How Many Miles to Babylon and films such as Inside I’m Dancing and Billy Elliott), and eight prescribed poets (such as W.B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Patrick Kavanagh, Adrienne Rich, Derek Walcott, Michael Longley, John Montague, Eavan Boland, Elizabeth Bishop, William Wordsworth, Derek Mahon, John Keats and Emily Dickinson).