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“All stakeholders have worked extremely hard to get to this point” – Education Minister

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By Michelle Crean

Minister for Education Norma Foley has said that "all stakeholders have worked extremely hard to get to this point" in deciding the way forward for the 2021 State exams. Junior Cert students will now not have to undergo a sit down exam with students instead being assessed through a calculated grade process, while Leaving Cert students face a choice of calculated grades or a sit down exam. Students who decide to take an exam will receive whichever result is higher between their calculated grade and the result from the written exam.

The Dept and its stakeholders have said that they wanted to put a fair system in place "having regard to the extraordinary circumstances of the pandemic and the loss of learning that has occurred for this group of students due to the interruption of in-person teaching and learning during the periods of school closure".

The Minister said that she has "listened carefully to all", and they have "worked together to find solutions" and that the exams are expected to begin on June 9.

However, teachers' union are calling for further engagement to clarify some points including having external examiners for oral and practical exams and have concerns about how teachers could come under pressure from parents over the calculated grades in the coming months. Concern also remains about how teachers will navigate the two exam choices whilst teaching. They're hoping to have further clarity from the Dept in the coming days.

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Acting principal for St Brendan's College, Hugh Rudden, said that while the announcement is welcome and gives clarity to students and teachers, there are concerns around the various subjects and how they'll be assessed.

"Some subjects have three components of assessment. Some students thrive on the practical element and others on the academic. That does lead to a certain amount of uncertainty and hopefully we'll get that clarity."

Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors, said that the fact that students finally have a decision is to be welcomed.

"The fact that Leaving Cert students will have the choice to opt for 'accredited grades' from the State Exams Commission, to sit some or all of the exams in June or to opt for a combination of both, is also positive news. While we do have clarity on some aspects of the process, much of it is still unclear. For many students making decisions is difficult so I urge all Leaving Certs to stay focused on study and revision. We now know the plan but it is important to get all of the detail over the coming weeks before deciding what option suits a particular student. The Minister has said that students will have until May to make that decision so my advice is to take time to let it sink in and take some time out to relax before returning to school (remotely) on Monday. The same applies to Third Year students. Although the exams won't go ahead, assessment will take place at school level and all learning this year is building towards transition into senior cycle so it's important to stay engaged in learning."

Meanwhile, according to Taoiseach Michael Martin on Thursday, schools "may" reopen on a phased basis from March 1, beginning with Junior and Senior Infants, as well as Leaving Cert students.

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Happy Birthday Sham

Well-known Killarney character Seamus ‘Sham’ Courtney celebrated his 75th birthday yesterday (Thursday) at his favourite town centre watering hole. Sham who has entertained countless tourists over the years with his pronounced Kerry accent is one of the town’s best loved characters. One video recorded by RTE’s Today Show around the time of his 71st birthday […]

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Well-known Killarney character Seamus ‘Sham’ Courtney celebrated his 75th birthday yesterday (Thursday) at his favourite town centre watering hole.

Sham who has entertained countless tourists over the years with his pronounced Kerry accent is one of the town’s best loved characters.

One video recorded by RTE’s Today Show around the time of his 71st birthday has amassed 7.5 million viewers.

Yesterday he visited one of his favourite pubs, Jack C O’Shea’s on High St, where proprietors John and Joan O’Shea and their ever-present dog Ginny placed decorative balloons around the bar to mark the occasion.

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Killarney acts excited to play outdoor mini music event

By Michelle Crean ANSEO, Kerry’s newest outdoor mini music and arts event, plans to have six shows at three venues, including Killarney Town Centre next weekend. On Sunday September 26, there’s plans for an afternoon show by The Gleneagle Concert Band, Pauline Scanlon with Mick Galvin, and The Small Hours from 2 to 4.30pm. Later that […]

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By Michelle Crean

ANSEO, Kerry’s newest outdoor mini music and arts event, plans to have six shows at three venues, including Killarney Town Centre next weekend.

On Sunday September 26, there’s plans for an afternoon show by The Gleneagle Concert Band, Pauline Scanlon with Mick Galvin, and The Small Hours from 2 to 4.30pm. Later that evening, from 7 to 9.30pm, acts such as The Rising, Cathal Flaherty, and Truly Diverse, will play.

It’s all part of two weekends of entertainment including tomorrow (Saturday) at the Town Square Listowel where Eoghan Duignan, John Browne and Brendan O’Sullivan, Tim O’Shea & Afro Trad Ireland, as well as Liam O’Connor and Family play from 1pm to 3.30pm, followed by an evening show from 6pm to 8.30pm featuring Seamus Begley and Donogh Hennessy, Sephira, and Peter Staunton and Super Ceili.

In Tralee on Saturday September 25, acts such as Inish, Lorraine Nash, and Oracle will put on a show from 2pm to 4.30pm, with Mark Leen: ‘the man with many voices’, Aisling Urwin & Andy Yelen, and Renovator playing from 7pm to 9.30pm.

ANSEO Kerry, supported by Kerry County Council, has been created to celebrate and support local artists and get them back out performing via a live outdoor music event for those who love Kerry and its talent.

Culture and local art will also be celebrated on a big screen at all of these events highlighting local talent including super works from visual arts Kerry, Cill Rialaig Arts Centre, Me + The Moon, Kerry Biosphere, St John’s Theatre, as well as Landscapes + Seascapes film, animations and mapping.

“It’s been an unbelievable feeling to be back performing again after what was the longest 18 months for everyone but I feel especially musicians because we were the first to close and just about the last to open again properly,” Cathal from Beaufort, and now living in Killarney town, told the Killarney Advertiser.

“When I read the news a few weeks back that we can perform indoors again it didn’t quite sink in until I was actually playing indoors a few days later. Since then my phone has been hopping with bookings and I’m just so grateful for anyone who has booked me so far. It’s still not entirely back to normal but I won’t be complaining for a while as it’s just so great to be back at it again. I want to give a special thanks to the guys behind ANSEO who have booked me for their Killarney run of shows which I’m really excited for, and also to be sharing the stage with two other incredible Kerry acts – The Rising and Truly Diverse. I know the Truly Diverse lads very well over the last decade so I know it’s gonna be a great show and I can’t wait to get up on that stage and play my own songs in front of real people again!”

ANSEO Kerry will be a family-friendly, alcohol-free, ticket only event for 200 people in pods of four. The concerts will be free of charge and there is expected to be much demand for these socially distanced shows. Tickets are limited but the shows will also be streamed online for those who can’t be there in person. ANSEO Kerry is being run in-line with full Government guidelines and protocols in place.

Tickets are bookable via www.anseokerry.com.

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