End of Compulsory Irish
It used to be the curse of the Irish education system. Every student had to take Irish as a subject and sit for Irish in the Leaving Cert. Now, school principals can give exemptions to students from having to take the subject. The final form of the regulation change has not been decided as yet, but it is expected that many parents will ask that their child be allowed to drop Irish, particularly coming up to examinations when the extra time could be used to improve their grades in other subjects.
But not the end of Voluntary Irish
It started as a kind of status symbol – attending a school where all subjects are taught through Irish. In Gaeltacht areas, such schools were understandable, but then the cities took them up – Galway and Cork, Dublin and Waterford. Now there are 44 post-primary schools which teach mathematics and physics, economics and history through the medium of Irish. Sixteen of those are outside the Gaeltacht, including one in Newry, and there is a report that five new Gaelscoileanna will open soon in the greater Dublin area.
Travelling Australia on the Ghan or the Indian-Pacific is one of those bucket-list items for many people in this country (and for what it’s worth, this writer recommends both). Now Ireland has its own version, the Belmond Grand Hibernian.
As yet too new for some smart Dubliner to give it a clever nickname, it offers two nights of luxury, double-bed travel from Dublin to Belfast to Waterford and back to Dublin for the not-inconsiderable sum of €3100 per person. There is also a five-day, four-night tour called Legends and Loughs which covers much more of the country for €4800 per person.
‘No Need to Play’, the man said.
It used to be the third Sunday in September, now it’s the first. Opponents: Dublin v Kerry. It will be all over by the time you read this, but writing it three weeks beforehand, it would be remiss not to quote something from RTE pundit Joe Brolly’s account of the semi-final where Kerry beat Tyrone. First he scalded the northerners – ‘Boring, boring Tyrone. No one can suck the life out of a sporting occasion quite like them. Aside from Fermanagh.’ Ouch! Then he finished his piece with, ‘A rousing effort from this young [Kerry] team brimming with potential who will use the final as a stepping stone, victory being out of the question’.
This final phrase turned out to be not quite correct. On Sunday September 1, the two teams drew, one goal and 12 points each, in a classic game, so the champions for 2019 will, after all, be decided on the third Sunday of September.
The player who was the backbone of this Kerry squad when they played at minor (U18) level was their midfielder Mark O’Connor. He now wears Number 42 on his back in the navy blue and white stripes of the Geelong AFL club who have their own big games coming up.