DEBATE raged as hot as the sun overhead outside city schools this Wednesday lunchtime as Leaving Certificate students got to grips with English Paper One and the start of their final exams.
The choice of essays and themes running through the higher and ordinary level papers were widely discussed outside exam halls, while the impending doom of English Paper Two hung like a thick fug of bad weather on the horizon.
Regardless of the opening exam’s content, students at St Clement’s College and Laurel Hill Colaiste repeatedly professed themselves happy that the exams had finally started, alleviating the nervous energy of a drawn out build-up.
“I am glad to get the first one over and done with, I’m only getting into it now,” said Jason Dinneen of St Clement’s, who hails from Meelick.
“It was fair, the essay titles were fair. Once I get paper two over and done with, it won’t be too bad,” he added.
His fellow sixth year Dylan O’Flynn, from Willow Grove, added that it was “brilliant to get the first one over and done with, absolutely great”.
“I am looking forward to Geography and Maths Paper One, but not English Paper Two, we will see. Hopefully it will be grand, but it is a lengthy paper, same as Business, very long,” he said.
In neighbouring Laurel Hill Colaiste, there was a buzz in the air at the start of exams.
Amy Quirke from Corbally said the paper was “fair” overall, but she bemoaned the lack of any topical essay titles.
“Everything was fine, apart from the essay titles, they weren’t very topical. The only one I could do was ‘we live in an unheroic age’. There was nothing on cyber bullying or anything topical,” she explained.
Of the weather, typically glorious as exams start, she added: “Trying to study and seeing everyone outside is hard, but sure you get over it, there is nothing you can do.”
Laurel Hill Colaiste principal Aedin Ni Bhriain said there was “an enthusiasm to get started” in the school this Wednesday morning.
“The anxiety is really in the build-up and once you put the first word on your paper, it is fine. People are ready to start,” she explained.
“As well as that, they have worked very hard, they are ready to take these exams after six years.”
Ms Ni Bhriain said a support network for exam students existed in Laurel Hill and in all schools.
She did offer advice for those now facing up to three weeks of exams.
“We are around if anyone is feeling nervous - they have that support network here and in every school. There is a core team here if anyone is having a bad day or a blip, they all know they have somewhere to come,” she explained.
“Our advice to them is to get plenty of sleep and eat well - the work is done over the last two years. Have a look through things but don’t overdo it and don’t do all nighters. Be calm and if they need support, come and tell us.
“Once it gets started the rhythm of exams kicks in and keeping calm is the main point,” she added.
Some 5,447 pupils began their Leaving and Junior Certificate - and Leaving Cert Applied - examinations in schools around Limerick this Wednesday.
Results of the Leaving Certificate will be available on August 14.