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Ireland in Schools

Making learning fun & challenging
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Anthologies - themes
Famine poems by IiS

1. At A Potato Digging by Seamus Heaney

2. The Scar by John Hewitt
3. The Famine Road by Eavan Boland

4. The Famine by Roisin Hambly
5. Broken Silence by Margaret O’Beirne

Poetry & the Troubles: Getting behind the Headlines by Gillian Goetzee
Five poems dealing with ‘the troubles’ have been selected to
a. help students develop an imaginative insight into recent events in Northern Ireland;
b. suggest a way of using scarce resources and time in schools by encouraging English and History teachers to work together in teaching key areas of the curriculum.
The unit consists of a brief introduction, an anthology of five poems of different levels of accessibility by four contemporary Irish poets, a series of activities for students, and examples of students’ responses.

As the examples of students’ work show, the poems have been successfully tested with GCSE and Key Stage 3 classes, enhancing students’ understanding and enjoyment of poetry while at the same time giving them some insight into the nature
of the various conflicts and tensions that go to make up the modern ‘Irish question’.

‘a British Army Soldier
with a rifle and a radio ...

I am an Irishman
and he is afraid
That I have come to kill him.’                                                                                          'Enemy Encounter' by Padraic Fiacc

This poem is showing the two sides, how both the Irish and the British soldiers feel about each others’ presence. The Irish are showing no fear but you can tell that there is some uncomfort. The soldiers feel the same uncomfort and they feel out of place here.

This poem is sad because it is a shame that they can not do something to get on with each other as they both feel uncomfortable about each others’ presence.