My Blog this week: ‘Plantations’, Auld Sweet Letters and Life after the Leaving Certificate


I grew up on a farm. The area was hilly and on a winters day the weather could be forbidding while on a summers day it was all so idyllic.
Around the house was shelltered by a nice cushion of trees. The trees around the haggard were often grandly referred to as the plantation. We didn’t know then that apart from looking nice and blocking the cold east wind they were carbon sinks taking in carbon dioxide.
I know that on nearly every farm there is a less arable bit. As part of the solution to bringing down carbon emissions these small bits of land will have to be planted. It must be grant aided in a way that’s attractive and it must be linked to qualifying for other environmental and headage payments.
It is natural in a country that was once covered in woodland. It will add to the beauty of our countryside enhance tourism support biodiversity and make a real contribution to lowering our carbon footprint. It’s premier attraction is that it can be done without displacing jobs or reducing standards of living.

Auld Sweet Letters

It used be a feature of a day at the office that it ended with a journey to the post office with a bundle of letters. I used to hold the letters in a manner calculated to impress passers by with the busyness of our office. That was advertising of yesteryear.
Now the email has replaced the letter, Communication is instant and the pace of things is transformed. Of course it’s progress albeit with the loss of floral prose and elaborations.
Thinking about this the other day brought back an amusing memory. In the late eighties and early nineties there was a breakdown of our Cavan road structure leaving us dubbed as the pothole capital of Ireland. I was inundated on a daily basis with complaints about particular stretches of road. There was no money in the Council coffers and all I could produce was a letter from the engineer noting the potholed area and saying that on receipt of requisite monies (which we did eventually secure) the necessary repairs would be carried out. This letter together with a covering letter was duly dispatched to the harassed resident.
On a particular day I met a constituent who lived on a very badly cratered bye road. He looked in very bad humour. On enquiry as to his state of wellbeing he replied
‘I want no more of your auld sweet letters.
It’s tar I want’.

The Leaving Certificate

It’s nearly over. As a veteran of it you now need affirmation for your efforts before and during no matter how you feel it went. The next immediate need is that you enjoy a good summer. Some will have summer jobs but make sure there is free time and a holiday of some sort if at all affordable.
Maybe the CAO Choice Apprenticeship or Post Leaving Certificate Option already selected needs rethinking. You can change your CAO Options for free right up to July 1. The really vital thing is that young people do what they like doing. If you like it you will work at it and do well in it. No matter what the area once you know what you’re at and have an enthusiasm for it you will find a related job particularly in this time of full employment. If you love your work you will never ‘work’ a day of your life.
It’s really worth having a look at the courses in your local post Leaving Certificate College.
Many of them feed into varying colleges allowing one do a year or two close to home.
This can save money build confidence allow further maturation and provide you with a quality educational opportunity.
If you think a full immersion in academia is not your thing there are wonderful apprenticeship opportunities these days. Your local ETB will give you vital information. There is a shortage of skilled tradespeople.
You probably did better in the Leaving Certificate than you think so don’t panic and wait for the results.
The summer is for enjoying and all of us need to live more in the moment.

Senator Joe O'Reilly representing Cavan & Monaghan 2010. | An ExSite website