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Key things to consider when choosing Leaving Cert subjects




By Niamh Dwyer, Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors

At this time of the year students in Third and Transition Year are being asked to choose the subjects they wish to study in senior cycle.

It can be a stressful time for students and parents who are concerned that choices made at this stage could have an impact on course and career choices after the Leaving Cert. My first piece of advice to parents is to make sure you attend the information meeting about senior cycle options in the school as you will get detailed information about the different subjects available, as well as guidance on entry requirements for the various pathways. Typically students studying the traditional Leaving Cert take three compulsory subjects; Maths, English and Irish (unless they have an exemption), and four optional subjects from the list on offer in the school. It can be difficult for students at 15 or 16 to know what career direction they would like to take after school, that’s very normal. Some may have an idea about a broad area of interest like science, business, health, engineering etc, while many have no idea at all. There are a few things that might help with making decisions about subject choice.

What to consider when choosing optional subjects

First think about the subjects you like and what you are good at as you will work hard on them and have a good chance of getting good grades. They are also likely to influence the choices you make later regarding college courses and other education and training options. Consider also subjects you really don’t like and struggle with, this is the chance to leave them behind. What you need to watch out for are the minimum entry requirements for various Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) as you will need to meet them in order to be considered for entry to college and universities when you apply through the Central Applications Office (CAO). Check what the requirement is around having a third language. You can check them out in the undergraduate section of college websites and on specific course pages. There is also a very useful subject requirement module on which allows you to check what courses require particular subjects such as chemistry or another laboratory science. There is an excellent course finder facility on where you can do a general search and use the filter to narrow it down to particular subject areas, locations and requirements. They also have a guide to the Leaving Cert subjects where you can explore the content of the subjects at senior cycle.

If you really don’t have an idea of what you want to do after school then choose a broad range of subjects so you keep as many options open as you can. Consider taking one option from the following; a language, a science, a business subject, and a practical or humanities based subject. Talking to your guidance counsellor in school is a huge help as he/she will be able to explore your interests, strengths, aptitudes and past performance in subjects with you as well as answer any questions you have about requirements for courses and colleges. It can also be really helpful to talk to subject teachers. Make sure to look closely at what is involved in the subjects you are choosing and that you have a genuine interest in taking it up or continuing with it in senior cycle.

Niamh Dwyer is a Guidance Counsellor in Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Rathmore, and Chairperson of the Kerry Branch of Guidance Counsellors. She is also a Career Consultant. For details see



Kerry rowing clubs flock to Killarney for the start of the coastal season

There was a fantastic spectacle of colour and rowing on Lough Leane last Sunday (June 16th) with the coastal rowing clubs of Kerry participating in the first ‘Head of the […]




There was a fantastic spectacle of colour and rowing on Lough Leane last Sunday (June 16th) with the coastal rowing clubs of Kerry participating in the first ‘Head of the Lake’ time-trial for coastal one-design boats.

The event, hosted by the local Flesk Valley Rowing Club, signalled the start of the summer season for clubs rowing the coastal ‘one-design’ boats.

It was fitting that on the weekend that the Killarney National Park celebrated the 60th anniversary of the opening of Muckross House to the public, that hundreds of people also flocked to the Flesk Valley shore to appreciate and enjoy the splendour of the park.

Speaking after the event, Flesk Valley chairman, John Fleming thanked all the Kerry clubs who supported this new event and congratulated all the first-time rowers taking to the water in a competitive event for the first time.
“We were delighted to welcome our neighbouring clubs Workmens’ and Fossa, and look forward to renewing rivalries with them again at the Killarney Regatta at the end of this month,” he said.

“We would also like to thank Mary B. Teahan, Andrew Wharton, Johanna King and the Kerry Coastal Rowing Association for all their support and encouragement, and Denis O’Leary for coordinating safety on the water.”
Flesk Valley would also like to thank the Killarney National Park, Leanes Tool Hire, Hegartys Shop and Muckross Rowing Club for their support.

“This was a great start to the coastal rowing season, and augurs well for the months ahead as clubs build towards the All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships to be held in Dingle at the end of August,” added the chairman.

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NPWS announces nature scholarships to mark ‘Muckross 60’

Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Niall O’ Donnchú, this week announced the inaugural ‘Muckross 60’ nature scholarships to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the opening of […]




Director General of the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Niall O’ Donnchú, this week announced the inaugural ‘Muckross 60’ nature scholarships to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the opening of Muckross House and Gardens to the public. The scholarships will be funded and managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service.

Niall O Donnchú said, “Killarney and Muckross have a very special place in Ireland’s heritage legacy, and  such beautiful gems need constant care, nurturing and indeed protecting by future generations. In supporting these third level scholarships, the NPWS is building the knowledge base of the future to assist those generations in continuing to realise the full beauty and nature value of the very unique Muckross House and Gardens and Killarney National Park.”

Mr O Donnchú added: “Killarney has a long history of scholarship, research and frontier work on nature and that continues to this day in the management of Killarney National Park and Muckross House and Gardens. The endowment of these annual scholarships is a very clear attestation that this crucial work continues to be undertaken across our national park system and especially here in Killarney and Muckross. This work has been pioneering in respect of wildlife and nature research and indeed the reintroduction of endangered species and the discovery, even this year, of more.”

Minister for Education and Kerry T.D. Norma Foley also welcomed new scholarships to mark the 60th anniversary of Muckross House.

“Muckross House is one of the jewels in the crown of Kerry tourism and received almost one million visitors last year. These scholarships will further add to our understanding of this outstanding part of our national heritage,” she said.

Muckross House was built by the Herbert family, who were local landlords. They became very wealthy during the 18th century due to the working of the copper mines on the Muckross Peninsula. They commenced the building of the present Muckross House in 1839. It was completed in 1843 at cost of £30,000, just two years prior to the Great Irish Famine. The Herbert family hosted the visit of Queen Victoria to Muckross House in 1861 but later got into financial difficulties and lost the house in 1897.

It was then bought by Lord Ardilaun, a member of the Guinness family. He in turn sold it in 1911 to William Bowers Bourn, a wealthy Californian gold miner. Bowers Bourn gave it to his daughter Maud as a wedding gift when she married Arthur Rose Vincent, an Irish barrister who later became a Senator.

After Maude died from pneumonia in 1929, Arthur Rose Vincent decided to donate Muckross house to the Irish nation as a memorial to his wife. Muckross House was transferred to the state in 1932 with its 11,000 acre estate and became Ireland’s first National Park in 1933.

The park and gardens were opened to the public but the house remained closed until 1964 when it was reopened as a folk museum on June 14, 1964 following a campaign by people in Killarney.

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