In January 2014 Davitt College Fifth Year students were honoured with a visit from Award-Winning Irish poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin. It is broadly acknowledged that her poems open many doors to multiple worlds “with dense, captivating sound and a certain magic that proves not only to be believable but necessary, in fact, to our understanding of the world around us”. Having studied her poetry earlier in the academic year the students found this experience very educational and rewarding.
When the students encountered her prescribed work initially they were captivated by the thematic insights it provided on issues of a personal, mythical and universal nature. Acknowledging that Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s work is best known for its mysterious imagery and enigmatic layers of interpretation, the English Department in Davitt College sought to demystify her work for the students by arranging such a visit. Having the poet visit the school and provide insights into her work was something that will benefit the students greatly as they prepare for their Leaving Certificate Examination in 2015.
Upon her visit to the school, Eiléan highlighted the importance of the arts within society, as she spoke about the power and influence literature, in all its forms, can have on the lives of individuals. She welcomed questions and discussion from the students about her life and how it related to the various themes and issues within her work, as well as providing profound insights into each of the poems on the Leaving Certificate course. The students found that the experience was both invigorating and inspirational as she provided a very personal and relatable approach to this section of their Leaving Certificate English course. It was an experience they thoroughly enjoyed and one that will remain with them for the rest of their lives.
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s most significant poets and the staff and students of Davitt College were privileged to have her as a guest.