All posts by Miss Ryan

The Inquiry into the Sinking of the Titanic

During the last couple of weeks TY students have been studying a broad range of poetry including works from greats such as Seamus Heaney and TS Eliot. Last week, “After the Titanic” by Derek Mahon was the focus of attention. The poem looks at the tragedy of the Titanic from the point of view of a survivor – Bruce Ismay. He was the managing director of White Star Line the company that owned the Titanic. Mahon’s interpretation vividly captures the haunting memories of the broken up ship and describes Ismay’s feelings when the investigation into the sinking took place.

After reflecting on the poem, a challenge was put to the TY’s. In 20 mins, and in groups of 8 or 9, they had to prepare a rehearsed improvisation of the  inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic centering on Bruce Ismay. In group one, Jack Conway led the courtroom process with great authority while Drew Keeley defended himself in the role of Ismay. Witnesses were called and barristers examined. This improvisation was very convincing indeed.

Witness for the Prosecution
Witness for the Prosecution

Another group was led strongly by the prosecuting barrister, Ciaran Mulroy. Gabriel Mayrhofer, as Bruce Ismay did not stand a chance under the tough line of questioning. Despite many objections by counsel for the defence, Sean Landers, Ismay was found guilty of negligent manslaughter.

The Questioning of Ismay
The Questioning of Ismay

Both groups got very much into the spirit of the hearing and everyone fulfilled their roles and improvised greatly without any written script. This experiment  with rehearsed improvisation is one that will be repeated during the course of the year.

‘The Black Book of Secrets’ reviewed by Eoin Sweetman

The February Book of the Month, ‘The Black Book of Secrets’ by F.E. Higgins was recommended by Eoin Sweetman. He recently wrote a review of the book. Here’s his review, which should encourage everyone who hasn’t started yet, to get a copy of this gripping and hard-to-put-down read: 

Eoin’s Cover Design


‘The Black Book of Secrets’ is set in the late 19th century. The main character, Ludlow Fitch, grew up with his cruel alcoholic parents but runs away when they try to sell his teeth for money to buy drink. Ludlow stows away on the back of Jeremiah Ratchet’s horse and cart and arrives in the mountain village of Pagus Paruns. Here he meets Joe Zabbidou who offers him a job and a home. Joe is a pawnbroker but rarely makes any money. He owns a poisonous frog with yellow spots.

After a period of time, Joe invites people individually to his house and tells them to confide their deepest darkest secret which Ludlow writes into a black notebook. In return, Joe gives quite a substantial payment and swears never to tell a soul. Soon the whole town who were in debt to Jeremiah Ratchet begin to pay him back. This does bot suit him as he was always owed favours as well as money from the locals. 

Jeremiah turns sour on Joe and tells tales about how he has told their secrets. Joe is innocent and has done a lot for the village but the community is fickle and tries to drive Joe out of the village. On the night Joe is about to leave, Jeremiah tries to steal the Black Book of Secrets. While stealing it, he decides to take Joe’s beloved frog just in spite. However, the frog bites Jeremiah and he dies.

Joe and Ludlow run away for days and nights. Eventually they reach a secret place where Joe keeps all the black book of secrets he has written. He asks Ludlow to be his apprentice and eventually takes over from him.


Joe is a reserved man, and throughout his and Ludlow’s time together, he prefers to let Ludlow figure things out for himself if he can. Joe is a generous man but Ludlow finds he has many secrets to hide himself. Joe’s secrets unravel as the novel goes on. 


Ludlow is the main character. He has some of his parents’ bad stealing habits but Joe recognises the good loyal boy under a skin of petty crimes. For Ludlow, the trust he places in Joe is questioned many times but Joe always comes out on the good side. 


I would recommend this book to everyone with an interest in reading. At first glance the book may seem dark and you may not think it is your type of book, but stick with it. It has opened up a different type of book for me.

Thanks very much Eoin for that review. Well done, and no doubt you have encouraged many readers to pick up this fascinating book.

Winners of Macbeth Challenge

Congratulations to all fifth years who took part in the Macbeth Challenge 2012. They are all winners!!! All performances were outstanding.

Participating in the Soliloquy Challenge were:

  1. Liam Schnober Smyth – Hecate’s speech
  2. Cian Harrington – Two truths
  3. Dylan Brady – Two truths
  4. Jamie Daly – Thou hast it all
  5. Eoin Sweetman – Dagger
  6. Duncan Walker – Dagger
  7. Sean Hayes – Dagger
  8. Niamh Kelly White – The Prince of Cumberland
  9. Chris Mullen – Two truths
  10. Matthew Mollahan – Thou has it all
  11. Robert Tully – Tomorrow and tomorrow
  12. Joe Dunne – The raven is himself is hoarse
Participating in the Drama Challenge were:
  1. Robert Tully and Duncan Walker – Macbeth and Banquo (2.i)
  2. Ciaran McGinley, Cathal Niall, Matthew Mollahan – Witches  (4.i)

Those presented with trophies were Duncan for the Dagger Soliloquy and Ciaran, Cathal & Matthew for the Witches Scene!! Excellent performances by each of them.

Here you can see the participants and those who received trophies. Thanks to Mr Flynn for his great photos.

5th Year Macbeth Challenge

Macbeth Challenge 2012

Fifth years are you ready for the 2012 Macbeth Soliloquy and Drama Challenge?

Tomorrow you have the chance to recite your favourite soliloquy – the dagger soliloquy seems to be a popular choice – in a way that conveys the meaning and mood of the speaker in the context of that soliloquy. In addition or instead, you may join with a partner or two to dramatise a piece from a compelling scene of your choice.

Aside from the fame and glory of winning the Macbeth Challenge, there will prizes galore of the material kind. Best soliloquy and best drama will receive a coveted trophy. Book tokens will also be awarded to winners and high achievers. Apart from that, a few goodies will be thrown into the mix. Who could resist?

As you have been practising since long before the midterm, a very high standard is anticipated for this competition. In order to set the bar high and put you under pressure to aim for excellence, Mr Lavin will be present for the competition.

Best wishes to you all – and don’t let anything “impede thee from the golden round” and please show that you have no “spur to prick the sides of [your] intent, only vaulting ambition”. And if you are really feeling confdent, you may call “fate into the list to champion [you] to the utterance”.

Important Quotes – Macbeth Act 3

Here are some important quotes from Act 3. Be sure you know and understand each of them.

Banquo: “I fear /Thou play’dst most foully for it.”

Banquo: “My duties / Are with a most indissoluble tie / Forever knit.”

Macbeth: “Fail not our feast.” Banquo: “My lord, I will not.”

Macbeth: “Filling their hearers / With strange invention.”

Macbeth: “To be thus is nothing, / But to be safely thus. Our fears in Banquo / Stick deep, and in his royalty of nature / Reigns that which would be feared.”

Macbeth: “There is none but he / Whose being I do fear;”

Macbeth: “Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown, / And put a barren sceptre in my gripe.”

Macbeth: “For Banquo’s issue have I filed my mind; / For them the gracious Duncan have I murdered.”

Macbeth: “So, come Fate into the list / And champion me to the utterance.”

Macbeth: “Ay, in the catalogue ye go for men.”

Macbeth: “Though I could / With barefaced power sweep him from my sight.”

Macbeth: “For it must be done tonight / And something from the palace.”

Macbeth: “Banquo, thy soul’s flight, / If it find Heaven, must find it out tonight.”

Lady Macbeth: “Nought’s had, all’s spent, / Where our desire is got without content; / Tis safer to be that which we destroy / Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.”

Lady Macbeth: “Things without all remedy / Should be without regard – what’s done is done.”

Macbeth: “We have scorched the snake, not killed it”

Macbeth: “But let the frame of things disjoint – / Both the worlds suffer – / Ere we will eat our meal in fear and sleep / In the affliction of these terrible dreams / That shake us nightly.”

Macbeth: “Duncan’s in his grave; / After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well,  / Treason has done his worst; nor steel, nor poison, / Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing / Can touch him further.”

Lady Macbeth: “Gentle my lord, sleek o’er your rugged looks, / Be bright and jovial among your guests tonight.”

Macbeth: “Make our faces vizards to our hearts / Disguising what they are.”

Macbeth: “O, full of scorpions is my mind, dear wife.”

Macbeth: “Ere the bath hath flown / His cloistered flight…there shall be done / A deed of dreadful note.”

Macbeth: “Be innocent of the knowledge, dearest chuck / Til thou applaud the deed – Come seeling night… / Cancel and tear to pieces that great bond / Which makes me pale!”

Macbeth: “Things bad begun make themselves strong by ill.”

Macbeth: “You know your own degrees; sit down:  / At first and last the hearty welcome.”

Macbeth: “We’ll drink a measure / The table round.”

Macbeth: “Tis better thee without than he within.”

Macbeth: “Thou art the best o’ th’ cut-throats… / …thou art the non-pareil.”

Macbeth: “Then comes my fit again; / I had else been perfect – / Whole as the marble, founded as the rock.”

Macbeth: “Now I am cabined, cribbed, confined, bound in / To saucy doubts and fears.”

First murderer: “In a ditch he bides, / With twenty trenched gashes on his head; / The least a death to nature.”

Macbeth: “There the grown serpent lies; the worm that’s fled / Hath nature that in time will venom breed.”

Lady Macbeth: “You do not give the cheer; the feast is sold.”

Macbeth: “Here had we our country’s honour roofed, /  Were the graced person of our Banquo present.”

Macbeth: “The table’s full.”…”Which of you have done this?”

Macbeth: “Thou can’st not say I did it – never shake / Thy gory locks at me.”

Lady Macbeth: “Sit worthy friends, my lord is often thus… / The fit is momentary; upon a thought / He will be well again.”

Lady Macbeth: “Are you a man?”

Macbeth: “Ay, and a bold one, that dare look on that / Which might appal the devil.”

Lady Macbeth: “O proper stuff! / This is the very painting of your fear: /This is the air-drawn dagger which, you said, / Led you to Duncan… / When all’s done / You look but on a stool.”

Macbeth: “Our monuments shall be the maws of kites.”

Macbeth: “The times have been / That, when the brains were out, the man would die, / And there an end; but now they rise again, / With twenty mortal murders on their crowns, / And push us from our stools.”

Lady Macbeth: “My noble lord, / Your worthy friends do lack you.”

Macbeth: “I have a strange infirmity, which is nothing  / To those that know me.”

Macbeth: “To our dear Banquo, whom we miss; / Would he were here.”

Macbeth: “Avaunt and quit my sight, let the earth hide thee – /  Thy bones are marrowless, thy blood is cold.”

Macbeth: “What man dare, I dare:  / Approach thou like the rugged Russian bear, / The armed rhinoceros, or the Hyrcan tiger, /  Take any shape but that.”

Macbeth: “Hence, horrible shadow / Unreal mockery, hence.”

Lady Macbeth: “You have displaced the mirth, broke the good meeting, / With most admired disorder.”

Macbeth: “Can such things be, / And overcome us like a summer’s cloud.”

Macbeth: “You can behold such sights /  And keep the natural ruby of your cheeks, /  When mine is blanched with fear.”

Lady Macbeth: “He grows worse and worse / Question enrages him… / Stand not upon the order of your going, / But go at once.”

Macbeth: “It will have blood they say: blood will have blood.”

Macbeth: “There’s not a one of them but in his house / I keep a servant fee’d.”

Macbeth: “Now I am bent to know, / By the worst means the worst. For mine own good / All causes shall give way. I am in blood / Stepped in so far, that should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o’er: / Strange things I have in head that will to hand, /Which must be acted ere they may be scanned.”

Lady Macbeth: “You lack the season of all natures, sleep.”

Macbeth: “We are yet but young in deed.”

Hecate: “Loves for his own ends, not for you”

Hecate: “And by the strength of their illusion / Shall draw him on to his confusion.”

Hecate: “He shall spurn fate, scorn death, and bear / His hopes ‘bove wisdom, grace and fear.”

Hecate: “Security / Is mortal’s chiefest enemy.”

Lennox: “The gracious Duncan…the right valiant Banquo…to kill their gracious father…How it did grieve Macbeth…”

Lennox: “And ’cause he failed / His presence at the tyrant’s feast, I hear / Macduff lives in disgrace.”

Lord: “The most pious Edward”

Lord: “We may again / Give to our table meat, sleep to our nights / Free from our feasts and banquets bloody knives”

Lord: “He prepares for some attempt of war.”

Lennox: “That a swift blessing / May soon return to this our suffering country, / Under a hand accursed.”

Poetry Aloud – Learning a Poem

Good luck to the students who have entered the Poetry Aloud 2013 Competition. The seniors are busy working on their set poem ‘Postscript’ by Seamus Heaney as well as their selected poem. In order to memorise a poem, the most traditional and fool-proof method is repetition – first line by line, then two lines together and so on. Here is a slideshow of ‘Postscript’, with various words and phrases missing at different points in the poem, that might help seniors memorise the poem. Make your own slideshow of another poem, if you think this method is helpful.
Postscript – Learn It!

Sonnets, Shakespeare and Iambic Pentameter

While studying the poetry of  Shakespeare, we are becoming familiar with the sonnet form. At the moment we are focussing on one of the most famous love poems of all time: Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 often referred to by its first line, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” It is a beautiful poem written to the Fair Youth dealing with the loveliness of the beloved, the effect time has on all and the power of poetry to immortalise the beloved. This is captured n 14 lines written in iambic pentameter and following a strict rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg.

Let’s refresh ourselves on what iambic pentameter is. In simple terms it is a line of verse with ten syllables grouped into pairs. Each pair of syllables has one soft and one strong beat.  Each pair is called an IAMB and there FIVE pairs – that’s why each line of 5 pairs is called IAMBIC PENTAMETER.  The rhythm in each line sounds like:

ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM / ba-BUM
Here are some famous lines written in iambic pentameter:
If music be the food of love , play on.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
You’ll notice that each pair of syllables is made up of one unstressed and one stressed beat (ba-BUM).
Here are some good attempts by students at the college of iambic pentameter: Here is Jasper’s quatrain:
“Everyone wants to go out for fun
Wanna see the clouds, trees, and the nice sky
To play golf or take a bath in the sun
Go high above the trees and clouds and fly!”
Super work Jasper and great rhyme scheme!
Dennis also wrote a quatrain, while Jaime went full steam ahead and wrote an entire sonnet in iambic pentameter following the correct rhyme scheme!
Dennis’s Quatrain

Jaime’s Sonnet

Poetry Aloud 2012

Poetry Aloud 2012

Poetry Aloud is an annual poetry speaking competition open to all post-primary students on the island of Ireland. It is organised by Poetry Ireland and the National Library of Ireland. It is divided into three categories: Junior – 1st and 2nd Years, Intermediate – 3rd and 4th Years, Senior – 5th and 6th Years. Participants from must recite two poems from the list provided. Regional heats take place between 15th and 26th October all around the country. The deadline for entries is Wednesday 26th September. This is a fantastic opportunity for all students at Franciscan College Gormanston. Ask your English teacher for more information.

Macbeth – Blood Imagery

The purpose of blood imagery:

  • Contributes to the horror of the play
  • Represents guilt felt by major characters
  • Acts as a metaphor for the chaos within Scotland
  • Represents the notion of loyal self-sacrifice

Macbeth is a very bloody play. Shakespeare’s bloody imagery, including the vision of blood-spattered characters, enables him to create an atmosphere of horror and violence. Blood also symbolises guilt within the play. Towards the end of the play, the blood-soaked imagery conveys the idea of Scotland suffering under the tyranny of Macbeth’s rule.

The violence of the world of Macbeth is established with the entrance of the bleeding captain (Act 1 Scene 2). We soon hear of Macbeth’s gory action in the battle: how his sword “smoked with bloody execution” as he “carved out his passage” through enemy soldiers. When Macbeth finally reaches Macdonwald, he “unseamed him from the nave to the chaps / and fixed his head upon [the] battlements.’ The characters’ admiration of such violence clearly establishes Scotland at this time as a violent and bloody place.

(More to come as we move on to each scene…)


Macbeth as Tragedy

Tragedy is a form of drama that deals with human suffering. Generally speaking, tragedy portrays a hero who flourishes at the beginning of story, but then, because of a tragic act, faces a reversal of fortune. The tragic hero encounters great suffering and hardship in the drama but because of this develops greater awareness about himself or the world. A tragedy often concludes with the hero’s demise.

Macbeth can be understood as the typical tragedy as it contains the following tragic elements:

  • Hero has high social status and potential for greatness
  • Hero has a tragic flaw
  • Hero commits a tragic act
  • Hero experiences a reversal of fortune
  • Hero gains wisdom
  • Hero inspires pity and excites fear