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Brendan Kennelly for Leaving Cert English: Begin

"Begin" by Brendan KennellyYou may also like: 2019 Guide to Leaving Cert English. Full notes on Brendan Kennelly will be made available to everyone who has the 2019 guide, free of charge, as soon as they are ready.

Summary: a philosophical reflection on starting something new again and again communicated through the description of a morning walk across the Grand Canal in Dublin.

Style features:
anaphora (1) (highlighted in bold) adds a sense of determination as does the repetition of the word “begin” throughout the poemenjambment highlights the never ending need to begin again imperative tone, “begin again” is an encouraging command to never give up alliteration e.g. “dying in dark / determination” enhances the imageryreference to familiar places, “Pembroke Road” near the Aviva Stadium in Dublin 4, make the poem more accessibleimagery appeals to multiple senses: “summoning birds”, “sight of the light”, “roar of morning traffic”, “crying birds in the sudden rain”, “branches…

Question B: "We are what we wear" for Leaving Cert English

Students in your school have been invited to contribute articles to the school website on issues relevant to young people. This week’s issue is “We are what we wear”. 

Write an article for the website expressing your views on the topic. (Question B, 2008)


If you set out to write an article, you have to be logical. There is a whole bouquet of learning points in this fascinating insight into the mind of someone who loves fashion. You may also like: Complete Guide to Leaving Cert English (€)

Question B: "We are what we wear" for Leaving Cert English

Whether it's Christian Lacroix, Vivienne Westwood, 'Pennies best' or hand-me-downs, what we wear and sometimes who we're wearing contributes to our overall reputation. For me, fashion provides a gateway to happiness and individuality. After reading these first few lines, I know some of you readers are most likely thinking, "What a materialistic freak". But trust me, I can explain. You see, us we millennials have grown up in a special period of time. For us, its not so much our personality but more so our appearance which places us in society. (I cannot think of anything that suggests that the generations who came before us were different in this regard. Appearance always mattered. Marie Antoinette wasn't known for walking around in tracksuit bottoms. When writing Paper 1 essays, a lot of students fall into this self-indulgent idea that their generation is exceptional. What will your examiner think? “The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” That's not your examiner, that's Socrates. Nearly two and a half thousand years ago. Human nature changes slowly, so be careful with your claims to uniqueness. Furthermore, while the title did say expressing your views, the author's tone is perhaps is probably more personal than most people's.) So, I've decided to type this article to prove that, 'we are what we wear' is not just a run of the mill cleshay cliché.

Believe it or not, but fashion is a passion. You either love it or hate it. Although some people may see it as a thing of undiluted boredom (this is a fragment of a sentence. You can talk like this, but in writing you cannot leave a dependent clause flailing in the wind). Others, myself included, see it as a tangible artefact of raw emotion (This is a beautiful phrase. Usually when people come up with convoluted expressions, they don't make much sense. This does - well done.) The most common example of this is the dark dress code at a funeral. (Coherence of Delivery marks will be lost here. The author started the paragraph with "fashion is a passion". Fair enough. It's a reflection of one's inner world. Wonderful. The fact that people wear black to funerals is a bad example of fashion as a passion for obvious reasons. It ties in with the emotion part, but not with the author's overarching message. To avoid this pitfall, the author should make one point per paragraph.) My fellow teens, what we wear doesn't have to be 'any owl thing', as my cousin would say. We can utilise elaborate fabrics and accessories to express our personality. We can add a drizzle of glamour to our lives or a pinch of maturity to our still growing bodies. 

Readers, whether you like it or not, within the first few seconds of meeting someone new, they have already judged us. Trust me when I say this, FIRST IMPRESSIONS MATTER! They can be the difference between part-time employment and begging your parents for money. What we wear also provides us with a label, and lucky for some this can be altered. For me, this label represents status or class. Normally, when we see someone wearing a hoodie in a dark alleyway, we automatically think DANGER! Personally, if I came across such an individual, my body would turn into that of Usain Bolt as I sprint towards safety. (In the intro, the author seems to have set on a mission to show us that she's not shallow. I don't for a second advocate for teenage girls to hang around with hoodie-wearing inhabitants of alleyways, but there is a touch of stereotyping here. This doesn't help us to see the author as a non-shallow person. The solution lies in recognising that it is the author's entire point: fashion is part of stereotype-formation and it's involuntary. Assessing whether you can trust someone is innate to how our brains work. Fashion is a way to influence how you are perceived - that's the author's main point. Make sure you prioritise clarity. The examiner won't have time to tease out your points like I am doing here...)

Thirdly, I want to look at how the things we want to wear influences our goals. Coming from a background were finding a bargain in 'Pennies' was a moment of sheer happiness, I aspire for more. When I'm older, I want to have the financial freedom to waltz into 'Gucci' and buy anything I wish. This is one of my root motives for doing well in school. Readers, fashion allows us to become a part of who we want to be. (This is a little conflicted: what is the end and what is the means?) Those of you who want to become builders, most likely lean towards combat trousers and steel toe boots. Whilst others may wish to become the next editor-in-chief of 'Vogue' and wear sunglasses 24:7.

All in all, I think fashion is a gift from the heavens. Not only does it allow us to express ourselves but it also gives us control over what others think of us. I believe that fashion can be a motive for success and future employment. Thus, the phrase, 'we are what we wear ', has never been as important as it is now.

Students in your school have been invited to contribute articles to the school website on issues relevant to young people. This week’s issue is “We are what we wear”

From a PCLM point of view

Clarity of purpose: the author isn't unclear in her writing as such, but she is unclear from a logical point of view. As it stands, the point of the second paragraph and the third one is essentially the same. By looking for it, I was able to uncover an interesting point that the author didn't quite chisel out herself. Make sure that the three points of your paragraphs don't overlap.

Coherence of delivery: just as the marking scheme suggests, coherence of delivery is hostage to clarity of purpose. Her coherence is worst in the second paragraph because the author herself is unclear.

Efficient use of language: It's very good!

Accuracy of mechanics: It's all corrected here, but the author needs to look over her apostrophes and the spelling of certain words.

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