22 Topics for Irish

Leaving Certificate Irish

At least a pass in Ordinary level Irish is a requirement for entry to UCD, UCC, NUIG and NUI Maynooth, and if you want to study primary teaching you will need to get a minimum of a C3 in Higher level. Generally, if you do Leaving cert Irish at higher level you will have got at least a C but preferably a B in Junior Cert Higher level.

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The syllabus has changed in recent years to place greater emphasis on spoken Irish so you should try and spend some time in the Ghaeltacht and it's really important you practice for your oral exam. it is worth practicing speaking Irish aloud as often as possible. You'll find some advice on preparing for your Oral on our blog.

Irish (Gaeilge) Course Content

  • Oral (speaking)
  • Written
  • Aural (listening)
  • Reading
  • Unseen Poetry
  • Studied Poetry
  • Unseen Prose
  • Studied Prose
  • Unseen Drama/Biography/short stories
  • Studied Drama/Biography/short stories

The Exam

Ardleibheal/Higher Level

(i)   Bealtriail (The Oral/ speaking exam)  240 marks - 40%

(ii)  The Aural/listening exam. 60 marks - 10%

(iii)  Two written papers.  300 marks - 50%

Paper one - 100marks
A) Composition Section with a choice of; Write either an essay, a story, an article for a newspaper or a debate/speech.
B) Two reading comprehensions usually connected to cultural affairs, famous people, current affairs, etc.

Paper Two - 200marks
This firstly consists of questions on compulsory prose and poetry. There are four stories and one film/drama on the prose course which are also on the ordinary level paper.
There is a question on a theme or character or an aspect of the story or film.
There are five poems printed on the paper. These poems are also on the ordinary level paper but the standard of answering expected is more detailed. There are eight additional higher level poems on the course.

Drama/Biography/short stories/bealoideas
You are required to write about an Irish language drama that you've studied
Also, you must answer a question on the History of the Irish language and literature.

Gnathleibheal/Ordinary Level

(i) Bealtriail: The Oral exam is an important part of the exam. 240 marks - 40% 

(ii) The Aural/listening exam. 60 marks - 10%

(iii) There are two written papers (50%) - Paper one is worth 100 marks and paper two is worth 200 marks

Paper one – 100 marks
A Written Composition Section with a choice out of; Write a letter, conversation, story or a paragraph. Usually these options are topics that you will have studied for the Oral exam.

There are two reading comprehensions, one usually about a famous person and the other about something to do with young people, current affairs etc.

Paper Two - 200 marks
This firstly consists of questions on compulsory prose and poetry. There are four stories and one film/drama on the prose course.

You must know a summary of the story/film and also discuss a theme or character. You must answer two questions and there is a choice between two in each case. 

Three out of the five poems are printed on the paper. You must answer two questions on the poems. The questions are generally about a theme, a feeling, an explanation of a line or did you enjoy the poem, etc.

Bunleibheal/Foundation Level.
The main part of this course is Listening and speaking. There is one written paper only and this is very similar to Junior Cert Ordinary level consisting mostly of reading comprehension. There are no prescribed prose or poetry sections in this course. However you may be asked questions about an unseen poem.

Future Careers with Leaving Certificate Irish

Irish is a requirement for entry into a number of third level courses. Future careers include Teaching, Translation, working in Gaeltacht areas, Garda, Lawyer.

Download the leaving cert Irish Higher and Ordinary level syllabus

Download the leaving cert Irish foundation level syllabus 

Download the leaving cert Irish Chief examiner's report (2012) 

22 Past papers for Irish

Irish Discussions

Resources for Ordinary Irish