Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Richard Storey from McDonald's to give some advice for people considering this job:

Richard Storey

Shift Manager


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Richard Storey

The initial couple of days can be tough as you are in training and it can make people rethink about working here, but I would have to say persevere, as there are rewards at the end of the tunnel.

McDonald's put their people first and never leave them doing the same job all the time. To work in McDonald's you requires patience, a good personality with a willingness to learn something new everyday.

Showing an interest in other peoples interests would help as you have to work as a team so interpersonal skills are ESSENTIAL!!


Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their best operating under supervisors who give clear guidelines, and performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.

They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
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Subject Choice for Leaving Cert...

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Ed Zone

These courses enable learners to gain recognition for the achievement of considerable knowledge in a range of subject areas, as for example in the Leaving Certificate and one-year Post Leaving Certificate courses.

Courses may be academic or practical in focus, and awards that are recognised by the National Framework of Qualifications may lead to progression opportunities higher up in the framework.

Employment Opportunities
The majority of people with certificates at this level are well prepared for occupations that involve using their knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include office secretary, customer service representatives, special needs assistant, retail salespersons and childcare workers.

Level on the National Framework of Qualifications
2 Years
Duration of course
Grades Awarded

Marks Distribution 2017:
Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 22122 students who sat the Higher Level Gaeilge exam in 2017.

Listed below are the percentage distributions of marks from the 22521 students who sat the Ordinary Level Gaeilge exam in 2017.

In brief... header image

Leaving Certificate Irish builds on the language skills developed during Junior Cycle. All four language skills are further developed towards enabling the learner to take an active part in the bilingual society in which we live in today in Ireland.

Students are encouraged to develop and share their views on a range of topics. The learner is also prepared during Senior Cycle for further study in or through Irish.

Video: Acmhainn Nua Oideachais | Oral Irish Leaving Certificate Examination Resource ~ TG4 Foghlaim

Why Study this?header image

What kind of student might Irish suit?

Studying Irish suits students who liked the language at Junior Cycle, who are interested in speaking the language and like to listen to Irish on the radio and television.

With 40% of the exam mark now going for the oral interview, a student really needs to like speaking the language to do well in this subject.


  • It is highly advisable that students spend some time in the Gaeltacht where language is spoken.
  • A bit of work at higher-level Irish can reap handsome rewards. It had a huge honours rate last year, when 80 per cent of students got an A, B or C at Higher Level.
  • Last year, 13.6 per cent of students were awarded an A2 or higher.

Videos & Interviews header image

Neasa Ní Chiaráin
Ollamh Cúnta le Teicneolaíocht Urlabhra agus Teanga don Ghaeilge
Neasa is a lecturer at Trinity College Dublin focused on using technology to promote Irish among learners.
View Transcript
Brian Ó Raghallaigh
Léachtóir le Fiontar & Scoil na Gaeilge, Ollscoil Chathair Bhaile Átha Cliath (DCU).
View Transcript
Cuan Ó Seireadáin
Cuan Ó Seireadáin, Coimeádaí le Conradh na Gaeilge
Cuan Ó Seireadáin
View Transcript

Read what others say about their Leaving Cert. Subject Choices...
Lieutenant - Pilot - Air Corp - Oisin McGrath
Oisin McGrath, Defence Forces

The subjects that I took for my Leaving Certificate are..English, Irish, Maths, Physics, Biology, Geography and French.

NB: It must be noted that the Air Corps requires certain subjects and is detailed in the Cadetship Booklet!!!

  go to interview...
Insurance Administrator - Kevin Moran
Kevin Moran, InsuranceAs well as the mandatory Irish, English and Mathematics my leaving certificate subjects included French, Biology, Geography and Accounting.

This is a broad range of subjects covering everything from business to languages to science, this provided a broad base for me as it left a number of doors open for various university courses. 
  go to interview...
Psychologist - Clinical - Elaine MacDonald
Elaine MacDonald, St. Michael's House

I like the way that the Irish school system allows students to study a variety of subjects to get a broad base.

I chose a range of subjects including languages (French and Spanish) which allowed me to make friends and really immerse myself in different cultures during my summers abroad.

I feel that Maths helped me to develop my logical mind, and prepared me well for learning to use statistics which are widely used in Clinical Psychology.

Biology was certainly useful to take in school and is relevant to Clinical Psychology because of its focus on how the human body works and how the brain functions.

English was also useful to the role of Clinical Psychologist as report writing skills are used across the board, and good ability to express yourself both verbally and in writing is very important.

I also feel that my involvement in school sports (hockey and swimming) was important in helping me develop into a person who enjoys being part of a team.

  go to interview...
Care Assistant  - Deirdre Lavelle
Deirdre Lavelle, St. Michael's HouseIn school I studied English, Irish, Maths, History, and French. As I came to this line of work late in life experience and courses I have done since leaving school have been helpful to me.

I did the foundation in counseling skills course in Maynooth College, I feel this has helped me in my work as it developed my listening skills.

Also here I had my first introduction to non verbal communication and reading body language etc., which is very useful in my current job as I work with people who communicate largely by non verbal means.

If I could go back in time I would have worked harder in school and achieved a better leaving certificate, as I spent many years doing a job I was not suited to. 
  go to interview...
Care Assistant - Lydia Peppard
Lydia Peppard, Health Service ExecutiveEnglish, Maths, Irish, French, History, Geography, Home Economics, Commerce (now called Business Studies) - these were subjects that I did for my Inter Cert, (now the Junior Cert), I left school after this. The courses that I took that had career implications were English, Maths, Commerce and Home Economics.

The implications of these were that English is needed for communication, Home Economics prepares one for life experiences and Commerce gives one an understanding of budgets and financial constraints. The subjects are practical ones and have helped me in my career. In hindsight I would have gone on to do my Leaving Cert and would have done Biology as this would have given me a basis to go further with my career, such as studying for nursing. 
  go to interview...
Manufacturing Engineer - Lynsey Gargan
Lynsey Gargan, STEPSIn school I was limited by the amount of subjects offered. I went to an all girl's convent school and they had pretty much the stereotypical girl's school subjects then.

For my optional subjects I did Geography, H&E Social and Scientific and Biology. I had all the regular subjects too. English, Irish, Maths and French. I think it's fairly obvious from the above list that my subjects didn't have much of a influence over my third level education choices.

If subjects like physics, engineering etc., had been on offer, I think I would have taken them instead but they were not available to me. I don't believe choices made in school about subjects always have to dictate what you do in college. In my case it just meant I had to work a little harder in the first year of college to catch up.

My school subjects never stopped me. If you know what you like and what you want do, you will always find a way. To be honest it's the knowing what you like that's harder, there are lots of paths to achieve what you want in education today. 
  go to interview...
QA Manager - Michael Bohane
Michael Bohane, BioPharmachem IrelandMy Leaving Cert subjects were Irish, English, Maths, French, Chemistry, Biology and Business Organisation.  My main interest was science so I chose two science subjects and one business related subject to keep things interesting.

My subjects were appropriate for my University course except I was required to take Physics in the first year. This was quite challenging not having taken Physics to Leaving Cert but not impossible. I don't think I would do anything differently if I had to repeat the process. 
  go to interview...
Lecturer - Aoife Mc Dermott
Aoife Mc Dermott, Department of Education and SkillsIn school I took English, Irish, Maths, French, Biology, Economics and Business. The fact that I enjoyed economics in school led me to the choice of my degree.

Luckily by taking what started out as a general degree I was able to figure out that what I liked about economics was being able to pose questions and look for solutions; the critical thinking component, rather than the content was actually the part that appealed most to me.

Through exposure to a variety of subjects in my first year in college I was in a much better position to chose the subjects that I wanted to specialise in.

Choosing to specialise in business and sociology worked well for me; the business component gave me a marketable knowledge base and skill set, while the sociology component encouraged me to think critically and introduced me to research skills.

I wouldn't do anything differently. It was great to be in a course where the classes got smaller as I progressed through, so I got a lot of guidance as I stumbled forward!

Choosing a specialised degree wouldn't have been a good choice for me at the time - I'm still amazed when I think of my friends who knew exactly what they wanted to do as they left school.

The biggest thing I learnt through my degree was that I had developed a skill set that I could use in a variety of ways. Having a degree in a specific area doesn't limit you to that for life! 
  go to interview...
Garda Trainee - Steven Kilgannon
Steven Kilgannon, An Garda Sí­ochánaMaths / Geography / English / Irish / Irish / Construction / Biology

They didn't influence my career path. I spent my time working my way up in a hotel to gain experience in complaint handling and communication skills. 
  go to interview...
Primary School Teacher - Brian Cadigan
Brian Cadigan, Department of Education and SkillsI needed to chose a second language besides Gaeilge in order to get into St. Patrick's College in Drumcondra. I decided to study French. 
  go to interview...

Course Overview header image

Irish is assessed at three levels i.e. Foundation Level, Ordinary Level or Higher Level.

The learner’s oral competency is assessed around Easter of the final year, in an oral examination worth 40%, at each level, of the overall mark.  The other three skills; listening, speaking, reading and writing are assessed in June. Aspects of literary works must be studied at Ordinary Level while at Higher Level these same works and additional material must be studied in greater detail.

The NCCA is currently undertaking a review of the Leaving Certificate Syllabus.

Course Contentheader image

Students at Leaving Cert are introduced to Irish Literature and culture. The Leaving Cert exam takes the form of three parts: oral, aural (listening skills) and written examinations.

Recent revisions to the syllabus mean that there is now a greater emphasis on the spoken word and trying to be more fluent in our native tongue.

The oral exam is now worth 40% of the overall mark. It takes place after the Easter mid-term break. Students engage in conversation with an examiner and discuss different topics in Irish.

The aural exam takes place on the same day as the written paper and has been shortened in length as part of the new syllabus. The aural exam now will last about 20-25 minutes. Students will listen to a series of dialogues/conversations and answer questions about the content.

There are four components to the Leaving Certificate examination: an oral exam, a listening comprehension, a language paper and a literature paper.

A. PRÓS Gnáthleibhéal agus Ardleibhéal

  • Prescribed prose for Ordinary and Higher Level

Déantar staidéar anseo ar chúig phíosa phróis; scéal béaloideas, gearrscéal sliocht as úrscéal, sliocht as dírbheatháisnéis, agus scannán nó drama. 5 prose pieces are studied, a folk tale, a short story, an excerpt from a novel, an excerpt from an autobiography:

  • Oisín i dTír na n-Óg
  • An Gnáth Rud le Deirdre Ní Ghrianna
  • Dís le Síobhán Ní Shúilleabháin
  • Hurlamaboc le Éilís Ní Dhuibhne
  • Cáca milis.

B. FILÍOCHT Gnáthleibhéal agus Ardleibhéal

  • Poetry for Ordinary and Higher Level

Déantar staidéar ar chúig dhán.
Five poems are studied:

  • Géibheann le Caitlín Maude
  • Colscaradh le Pádraig Mac Suibhne
  • Mo Ghrá-sa (idir lúibíní) le Nuala Ní dhomhnaill
  • An spailpín Fánach
  • An tEarrach Thiar le Máirtín Ó Direáin

Déantar staidéar ar úrscéal, nó dráma, nó cnuasach gearrscéalta nó dánta breise.
In addition Higher level students study a novel, or a play, or a collection of short stories or a selection of poems.

AN SCRÚDÚ CAINTE (Beal) The oral exam
Seo a leanas an leagan amach a bhíonn ar an scrúdú cainte:
This is the order of the examination:

(i) Tugann an dalta: Ainm, Aois, Dáta breiathe, Seoladh Baile, Scrúduimhir don scrúdaitheoir
The pupil must give the examiner their name, age, date of birth, address and examination number

(ii) Léitheoireacht - Reading
Caithfear cúig dhán a ullmhú don scrúdú cainte.
Five poems must be prepared.
Roghnóidh an scrúdaitheoir ceann amháin de na dánta sin,
The examiner will choose one of the poems.
Beidh ar an iarrathóir 12 líne a léamh amach ósard.
The candidate must read 12 lines out loud.
Tabharfar nóiméid amháin don iarrthóir an dán a ullmhú

(iii) Sraith Pictiúr - Picture Series.
Caithfear 20 pictiúr a ullmhú don scrúdú.
20 pictures are prepared for the exam.
Roghnóidh an scrúdaitheoir ceann amháin as 20
The examiner will choose one to examine the student on.

Click here to view the set of twenty picture sequences (Sraith Pictúir) which will be used in the 2017 Oral Irish Examination (Higher and Ordinary Level).

Click here to view the set of twenty picture sequences (Sraith Pictúir) which will be used in the 2018 Oral Irish Examination (Higher and Ordinary Level).

Exam Structure header image

Exam Structure

Irish is assessed at three levels: Foundation Level, Ordinary Level or Higher Level.

The learner’s oral competency is assessed around Easter of the final year, in an oral examination worth 40%, at each level, of the overall mark. The other three skills are assessed in June.

Aspects of literary works must be studied at Ordinary Level, while at Higher Level these same works and additional material must be studied in greater detail.

The Irish exam is divided between two written exams and an oral exam.  The written exam carries 60% of the mark and the Irish oral exam carries 40% of the mark.

Leaving Certificate Exam Tips:

Click here to view the set of twenty picture sequences (Sraith Pictúir) which will be used in the 2017 Oral Irish Examination (Higher and Ordinary Level).

Click here to view the set of twenty picture sequences (Sraith Pictúir) which will be used in the 2018 Oral Irish Examination (Higher and Ordinary Level).

Watch Video - advice for students sitting the oral Irish test for the Leaving Cert.

  • Preparation is the key to success. There are three sections in the Irish paper: oral, written and aural.
  • In preparing for the oral exam you could record yourself on an iPod and listen to your voice so you become more comfortable with it. Likewise, as you travel to and from school you could listen to an Irish CD. Getting used to the different dialects is essential.
  • For the written exam, write paragraphs regularly and time yourself to practise for the exam.
  • Extending your vocabulary and learning new phrases should become part of your daily preparation.
  • A large proportion of the marks for story/essay is for correct grammar and spelling so if you don't know how to say it, then avoid it.
  • In every study session, practise past papers and check your answers.
  • It is important to plan your answers making sure you are aware of the marking scheme.

Ardleibheal/Higher Level

It is advisable for students who wish to do Higher level to have obtained at least a grade C but preferably a grade B in Junior Cert Higher level Irish.

The course is taught in conjunction with the four main skills of learning a language: listening, speaking, reading and writing.

  • Bealtriail (The Oral exam) is an important part of the exam 240 marks (40%) from 2012 onwards). 
  • The Aural/listening exam. 60 marks (10%)
  • There are two written papers.  300 marks (50%) 

Paper one - 100 marks
A) Composition Section with a choice from the following: 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 - 200 marks
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
The candidate is required to write about an Irish language drama that they have studied. The student also must answer a question on the History of the Irish Language and Literature.

Students attempting Higher level are advised to go to the Ghaeltacht for a period in the school holidays.

Gnathleibheal/Ordinary Level

Last year, over 23,000 students sat the ordinary level paper.

(i) Bealtriail: The Oral exam is an important part of the exam. 240 marks (40%) (From 2012 onwards) 

Click here to view the set of twenty picture sequences (Sraith Pictúir) which will be used in the 2017 Oral Irish Examination (Higher and Ordinary Level).

Click here to view the set of twenty picture sequences (Sraith Pictúir) which will be used in the 2018 Oral Irish Examination (Higher and Ordinary Level).

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

(iii) There are two written papers - P 1:100 mks P2 200mks (50%)

Paper one – 100 marks
A Written Composition Section with a choice out of the following:
Write a letter, conversation, story or a paragraph.

Usually the letter and paragraph options are topics that are prepared also for the Oral exam.

There are also 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.

Students are required to know a summary of the story/film and also discuss a theme or character. They 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. Students 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.

Last year nearly 4,000 students sat the foundation level paper. 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 the Foundation Level course. However, students may be asked questions about an unseen poem.

Career Possibilities header image

The study of Irish can be valuable in a range of career areas:

  • Teaching
  • Public Service and Politics
  • Law
  • Public Administration 
  • Journalism
  • Acting
  • The Media

Careers in the Institutions of the European Union are a fantastic opportunity for Irish students, as Irish is now an official working language of the Union. By 2020, a range of job roles requiring Irish need to be filled - explore Irish Voices: EU Careers here.

Career Guidance