Departmental Staff List:

Mr S McAleenan (Head of Department)

Curriculum Overview

Key Stage 3

Irish at Key Stage 3 covers a wide range of topics in accordance with the Northern Ireland Curriculum.  The focus in the Department is on spoken language and students are actively encouraged to speak Irish both inside and outside of the classroom.

Students get the opportunity in Key Stage 3 to achieve the ‘cúpla focal’ badge and their ‘silver fáinne’.


GCSE Irish is offered as a GCSE subject through Year 11 and 12.  In exceptional cases, students have sat GCSE in Year 10 or 11, achieving A*, a situation that allows them to pursue a second language in through to the end of KS4.

Students complete 60 % of their exams over the two year period by completing two Controlled Assessments each in writing and speaking.  Usually one assessment in each skill is completed by Summer of Year 11.  The Listening and Reading skills are tested in a formal examination at the end of Year 12.

A Level

The Irish AS/A2 course consists of grammar, language and literature study.  The students study Irish short films and the drama ‘Breithiúnas’ at A2 level.  Smaller numbers in class at this level allow for more attention to the needs of the individual and this tends to result in the higher grades in examination.

Extra-Curricular Activities

St. Killian’s encourages its students to attend courses in the Donegal Gaeltacht during the summer and they are entered into various scholarship examinations.  All our students over the past 2 years have gained scholarships from Feis na nGleann or Comhaltas Uladh indicating the success of our emphasis on Oral Irish, particularly during the Junior years.

Aifreann na Gaeilge (Mass in Irish), Making of St Brigid’s Crosses, attendance at Irish language quizzes, plays etc are other events that our students get the opportunity to experience spoken Irish.

St Killian’s College students accept Corn Uí Chléiricheáin from Feis na nGleann in June 2012. The Cup is presented annually to the school that does the most to promote Oral Irish. All the students in the photograph won scholarships to the Gaeltacht.




Courses in KS4 build on the four skill areas which are practised in KS3 and the GCSE exam tests each of these skills, namely:

  • Listening – pupils understand and respond to spoken language (20%)
  • Speaking – pupils communicate in speech (30%) **
  • Reading – pupils understand and respond to written language (20%)
  • Writing – pupils communicate in writing. (30%) **


In speaking and writing pupils are required to show knowledge and accurate use of a range of prescribed grammar and structures.  These two skill areas are examined through Controlled Assessment as follows :

Spring of Year 11 – First Assessed Writing Task

Summer of Year 11 – First Assessed Oral Task

Autumn of Year 12 – Second Assessed Writing Task

Winter of Year 12 – Second Assessed Oral Task


Most pupils do the Higher Tier exam in each skill but Foundation Tier exams are available for those who find one or more of the skills challenging.


The subject content of the GCSE specification builds on many of the areas already covered in KS3 and can be summarized in the following contexts/themes:

  1. 1.      Lifestyle – Health, Relationships and Choices
  2. 2.      Leisure – Free Time and the Media, Holidays
  3. 3.      Home and Environment – Home and Local Area, Environment
  4. 4.      Work and Education – School/College and Future Plans, Current and Future Jobs



  • Irish-medium education (Almost every newly-qualified teacher in Irish has been employed almost immediately).  So too has there been a demand for Irish-speaking classroom assistants and field officers.


  • TG4 and Lá (Irish-medium newspaper) has opened up opportunities for Irish speakers in the media, drama, and jobs related to the production of TV programmes etc.


  • Irish has been granted a special status under the Belfast Agreement and this has led to a demand for translators etc in the Civil Service.  This status is also afforded the language under the European Parliament and Irish has become a useful advantage in many professions as a direct result.


  • The development of industries etc in the Gaeltacht regions has led to a demand for people with management-type qualifications and experience and Irish-speakers are also in demand in ICT-related jobs leading to the development of university outreach courses through the medium of Irish in Gaoth Dóbhair.


  • Many students in years gone by have chosen not to study the language further than A Level, but have found the skills and grade picked up studying A Level Irish have been useful in gaining entry to a range of Third Level courses, including Law, Education, Media, History etc.