Category Archives: Composing

Advice on writing essay/story/article/speech.

Article vs Speech

NOTE: This article was originally published in the Irish Independent Written Word Supplement, March 2014.

It can be difficult to wrap your head around the difference between writing an article for publication and writing a speech to be delivered to a live audience. In order to help you to grasp the difference, I’ve taken the same topic, used the same structure and made the same points, but one is an opinion piece for publication in a newspaper and the other is a speech. Read them both and then play a game of SPOT THE DIFFERENCE…


Mia Murphy

[*Mia Murphy is a lawyer, a journalist & a human rights activist. She blogs at or you can find her on facebook/freedomfightersireland or twitter @miamurphy]

We live in an era of unprecedented individual freedom. Unhappy with your parents? Divorce them. With your gender? Change it. With your life? End it.

The question begs to be asked however: is unlimited personal freedom a good thing for society? The answer, resolutely, is no. We are too eager to glorify people’s right to choose, too willing to ignore the reality that many people’s choices are often limited or foolish or self-destructive. In the very worst cases they are sometimes all three. So despite my fond notion that I am free to do what I want, in reality I know that my freedom is in many ways a construct of a good education and a well paid job. Without these two pillars of security in my life, my ‘choices’ might look very different indeed.

Let’s consider, for example, the idea “it’s my body and I should be allowed to do what I want with it”. At the simpler end of the spectrum, I can decide to shave my hair off for charity. I won’t really be hurting anyone – or myself – because the hair will grow back. Slightly more complex might be my decision to donate a kidney to a family member or friend. I get the warm fuzzy glow of saving a life, and hey, it turns out most people can survive perfectly fine with just one kidney! So even though it won’t grow back the way my hair did, who cares? Perhaps I could use my body as an incubator, could carry a baby for my fertility-challenged sister, or for my gay brother and his partner? There is no greater gift on earth than to give someone who would otherwise be childless the opportunity to experience the joys of parenthood.

So the freedom to do what I want with my body is a good thing, right?

Well only if I remain resolutely blind to the selfless utopian bubble I’ve created above, where motives are always pure and bodies and minds remain unharmed by the choices we make. This is simply not true. Many people sacrifice parts of themselves they would much rather keep sacred, through economic necessity. To really understand a person’s level of individual freedom, what matters is not so much what we do but rather why we do it.

Hair these days is big business. If I’ve got long locks, I can sell my ponytail for about €100. If my hair is blond, the rarest shade, I’ll get closer to €1000 for it. The hair extensions industry in Ireland alone is estimated by Hallinan Beauty Group to be worth about €2.5 million and significantly the vast majority of it is imported from abroad. But where does this hair come from? In most cases, it’s shave or die of the worst kind, where women in India, China and Eastern Europe sell their hair to stave off hunger and poverty or to pay for a better education for their children. In a world where long hair is still the benchmark of female beauty, this isn’t about personal freedom, this is about lack of options, lack of money, lack of choice. Or to be more precise, so that women in the developed world can feel beautiful, can have the ‘free choice’ to wear someone else’s hair and pass it off as their own, women in the developing world are making the not-so-free decision to privilege food, shelter and education over their own ‘beauty’. They are every bit as selfless as the wealthy westerner who shaves their hair off for charity but they are entitled to feel bitter that extreme poverty makes this not a choice but a necessity.

The freedom to do what I want with my internal organs is even more fraught with difficulties. Of course I can – and should – carry an organ donation card with me. If I die before my time, I might as well give my body parts to someone who can use them. But what about auctioning off my organs to the highest bidder whilst I’m still alive? Again, the issue of poverty, necessity and sometimes just plain old stupidity and greed raises its head, as a recent case in China illustrates, where a 17 yr old teen secretly sold a kidney for €3,500 before admitting to what he had done when his mother questioned how he could suddenly afford to buy a laptop, iPad and iPhone. His actions were not just a case of consumerism gone mad but were also unwittingly self-destructive, as his remaining kidney was subsequently revealed to have limited function. Ironically, he now finds himself on the organ donor waiting list alongside 1.5 million others, the organ shortage in China fuelling the very black market trade this boy fell victim to. Yes he made a free choice, but one he will undoubtedly regret for the rest of his life. What all of this reveals is that sometimes limiting people’s freedom is necessary in order to protect them from their own profound stupidity.

Nonetheless, there remain many miraculous things we can do with our bodies. Using them to create life is perhaps the greatest ability we have as human beings. We view the right to procreate as so fundamental that we are overwhelmed with sympathy for couples who are unable to conceive. Hence, many of us have no problem with the concept of surrogacy if the aim is to offer a childless couple the miracle of parenthood. However, once money enters the frame we become decidedly more squeamish. Is my body a commodity to be bought and sold? When I list my assets on my tax return, should I include my fully functioning womb? I can rent it out for maybe €15,000 per pregnancy. Heck, that’s more money than I’d get on the dole! Yet the emotional, psychological and ethical fallout from surrogacy can be horrendous.

What if, as happened recently in the U.S., the baby has foetal abnormalities? Can the surrogate be forced to abort the baby if the genetic parents decide they only want a ‘healthy’ child? If the surrogate falls ill, can she be forced to continue with the pregnancy against her will? Even if we put these relatively rare scenarios aside for a moment, the inconvenient truth is that most commercial surrogacy arrangements take place in poor countries where there is little regulation, countries like Thailand, Uganda and the Ukraine. Baby factories have sprung up all over India where the industry is worth $2bn and where estimates suggest 25,000 babies a year are born to surrogates. Many women are ashamed of their decision, hiding it from their existing children and in-laws but are lured in by the monetary reward which will give them a roof over their head or pay for an existing child’s education. It also carries less of a stigma than prostitution. However, despite the illusion that it is safer, many surrogates are risking their lives. Maternal mortality remains high in India, with 56,000 women dying during pregnancy or childbirth. Yet these women are being exploited, receiving only 10% of the amount being paid by commissioning couples and signing contracts waiving their right to health care in the case of miscarriage or complications after the birth.

We still live in a world where “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” so the next time you hear the defence “it’s my body and I’ll do what I want with it” spare a thought for those who use their bodies for profit because they are the only item of value they possess.

*NOTE: Thanks to a colleague for pointing out that it’s important to be aware of  and discuss with students the way that the opening series of rhetorical questions  “We live in an era of unprecedented individual freedom. Unhappy with your parents? Divorce them. With your gender? Change it. With your life? End it.” are deliberately facetious and are designed to provoke and shock. Of course none of us actually believe that anyone changes gender or takes their own life lightly but journalists often say something shocking or controversial to grab people’s attention.

*NOTE: some of the statistics I included I simply made up. Real journalists obviously can’t do this, but as a student in an exam without access to google, you’ve got no choice. You’ll have to make things up. You may also decide to exaggerate for dramatic effect. For example, the story about the 17yr old selling his kidney is true but I invented the subsequent kidney failure to add dramatic irony to the situation.I made up the name of the journalist so any resemblance to anyone real is entirely coincidental. 


To help you to appreciate the stylistic difference between writing an article and writing a speech, I used the same topic, same structure, same ideas but transformed it into a speech.

Your task is to SPOT THE DIFFERENCES between them (we’ve identified 8 in total but there may be more…)

Speech on Personal Freedom

Hi everyone, you’re very welcome to the Docklands Theatre for this lecture series and can I just say, I really appreciate the effort you’ve all made to be here. The bad weather probably had you jumping over muddy puddles outside like a possessed Peppa Pig, but you’re here now, so relax, kick your shoes off if they’re wet, switch off your phone and we’ll begin! For those of you I haven’t met before, my name’s Mia Murphy and if you’re tweeting this event I go by the not very cryptic twitter handle @miamurphy. I’m a journalist with the Irish Independent & a human rights campaigner and I’ve spent the last seven years of my life studying the way our freedom in the Western World limits the freedom of people in the Developing World.

We live in an era of unprecedented individual freedom. If you’re unhappy with your parents, you can divorce them. If you (point to someone in the front row) are unhappy with your gender (pause for laughter) – and I’m not suggesting you are, cause you look pretty good as a guy to me! – but if you were, you could just pop into a hospital and sort that out! Boom! You go from Phillip to Philomena in a heartbeat!

But what bugs me about all of this is the assumption that unlimited personal freedom is a good thing for society. That we’re all better off cause we can do what we want. I don’t buy that personally. I think we’re too eager to glorify people’s right to choose and we’re far far too willing to ignore the reality that people’s choices are often limited & foolish & self-destructive. While I might like the notion that I’m free to do whatever I want, the truth is that my freedom is guaranteed because I’ve got a good education and I live in a rich country.

One idea in particular that fascinates me is the statement you often hear people saying when they’re getting a body piercing or dying their hair purple: “it’s my body and I should be allowed to do what I want with it”. And I know that can sometimes be a good thing! I can shave my hair off for charity. I can donate a kidney to a family member. I can even be a surrogate for my sister if she’s having trouble getting knocked up and I’ll definitely help out my gay brother and his partner if they want kids because no matter how hard they try, they are definitely not gonna get pregnant!

The sad truth is, though, that lots of people shave their hair off and donate kidneys and act as surrogates for one very simple reason, and that reason is money!

How many of you know that hair these days is big business? I’ve got long brown hair (grab ponytail & wave it at audience) so I can sell my ponytail for about €100. But if my hair was blond, like this lovely lady in the front row (point) – would you mind standing up? – would you believe she could sell her hair today for €1000? So if you see her on the street next week and she’s doing an Emma Watson, you know what she’s been up to! And you should ask her to buy you coffee, cause she’s got €1,000 in her back pocket!

Seriously though, let’s talk about the real price of hair. The hair extensions industry in Ireland alone is worth about €2.5 million and the vast majority of this hair is imported from abroad. Women in India, China and Eastern Europe sell their hair to escape hunger and poverty and to pay for a better education for their children. This isn’t about personal freedom, this is about lack of options, lack of money and lack of choice. The sad truth is, so that you and I can feel beautiful with our flowing extensions like Kim Kardashian, women in the developing world are making the decision to privilege food, shelter and education over their own hair. And bear in mind that cutting their hair off means feeling ‘ugly’ for many of these women, because we’re not the only culture that associates long silky hair with sexiness you know!

You see this with organ donation as well! There was a case in China recently where a 17 yr old teenage boy secretly sold one of his kidneys for €3,500. But of course the mammy twigged that something was up when he could suddenly afford to buy a new laptop, iPad and iPhone and she forced him to admit what he’d done! Now this poor eejit didn’t need the money – he wasn’t starving – but I guess he wanted these signifiers of success pretty badly to go to this extreme. What he did was profoundly stupid, no question. But as yet there’s sadly no cure for stupidity in this world! Maybe that’s what my next research project should be! (pause for laughter)

Anyway, this kid then discovers that his remaining kidney has limited function! You won’t actually believe this but he’s now on the organ donor waiting list – I kid you not! – alongside 1.5 million others. And if this doesn’t prove that limiting people’s freedom is sometimes necessary to protect them from their own stupidity, I don’t know what does!!!

The last thing I want to mention, briefly, is surrogacy. Now I don’t have any moral qualms with a person deciding to be an oven for cooking up someone else’s baby, but it’s not as simple as setting the timer and waiting for the ping! I read about a case recently in America where at the twenty week scan, they discovered the baby had foetal abnormalities. The parents wanted the surrogate to have an abortion. But she didn’t agree with abortion, and she could already feel the baby kicking, so she refused. The baby was in her body but genetically the egg and sperm had come from the couple she was carrying it for. So they went to court looking for a court order to force her to have an abortion. And what did she do? She went on the run!

The point I’m making here is that it is never, never as simple as “It’s my body and I can do what I want with it”. Even leaving aside this extreme case, the truth is that most commercial surrogacy arrangements take place in poor countries where there is little regulation, countries like Thailand and Uganda and the Ukraine and India.

In fact, in recent years baby factories have sprung up all over India. The industry is worth $2bn and somewhere in the region of 25,000 babies a year are born to surrogates. But this is a country with poor hospital infrastructure. 56,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth every year. Not only are they putting their lives at rick, they’re also being exploited. They only get about 10% of the amount being paid and they’re signing these awful contracts which mean that as soon as the baby is delivered, they have no right to any further medical care. So if they get sick or die, the couple who now have their beautiful new baby have no further responsibility towards this woman who has given them the gift of becoming parents. And for me, that it sick and that is wrong. (Pause)

I want to leave you with a quote from George Orwell’s Animal farm where he said that “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. So the next time you hear someone say “it’s my body and I’ll do what I want with it” I want you to just spare a thought, please, for those who use their bodies for profit because they are the only item of value they possess.

(Step back and bow. Pause for applause)

Thank you so much for listening (bow, wave, exit stage).



Summary of information, argument, persuasion etc…

NOTE: This article was originally published in the Irish Independent Written Word Supplement, March 2014.

Language Types

The way we use language changes depending on the situation. The words you use in a job interview are obviously more formal than the words you choose when chatting to your mates. If you write a fawning comment to win a competition you’ll use lots of superlatives (think ‘biggest’, ‘best’, ‘brightest’) but for a political speech on bank debt you’ll use financial terminology.

The division of Paper 1 into language categories (information, argument, persuasion, narration/description and aesthetic language) reflects the fact that we use language in different ways in different contexts. These categories aren’t absolute, in fact they often overlap, but understanding the basic rules for informing, arguing, persuading, describing and narrating will make you a more discerning reader (i.e. better at comprehensions) and a more skilled writer (i.e. better at QB & composing).

Language of Information

What is it?
Writing whose main purpose is to communicate information.

Report, leaflet, instructions, travel guide, encyclopaedia.

The reader wants to glance at the page and select the information they are looking for instantly. Present the facts using a logical, easy to follow structure. Use headings, sub-headings and bullet points or numbering. However, if you are writing an informative essay, full prose paragraphs, rather than bullet point lists, will be expected.

Your focus needs to be on facts and statistics. Every point you make should be backed up by a specific example. If you are giving advice, it needs to be specific – think “count your daily fruit and veg intake and try to gradually increase by one a day until you reach your target” rather than the so-vague-as-to-be-almost-completely-useless “eat more healthily”. You can make statistics up, but you’ll have to make them sound believable. One way to do this is to name the source of the statistic – researcher, title & institution e.g. “According to research carried out by Dr. Hazel Nolan, sociology professor at Harvard University, one reason for the increase in smoking amongst teenage girls is because it is perceived as a good way to control weight gain”. However, your statistic must be convincing! I once had a student write that “92% of teenage girls in Ireland are now smokers”. You only need to look around you (or sniff those around you!) to know this couldn’t possibly be true.

Your language must be appropriate to your audience. Reports commissioned by the government or by an organisation such as the Central Statistics Office (CSO) or the Economic & Social Research Institute (ESRI) adopt a very formal and professional tone and use subject-specific vocabulary. However, a leaflet offering advice to teenagers on staying safe online would need to adopt a much less formal approach, otherwise the people it’s aimed at (teenagers) would stop reading.

Language of Argument

What is it?
Writing which offers personal opinions & refutes opposing views logically is argumentative.

Speeches, debates, opinion pieces, letters to the editor, election material.

The headings and bullet points you used for the language of information are generally speaking not appropriate here. You are expected to write in complete sentences, alternating between short snappy sentences and longer more complex ones. You need to build up a series of inter-connected ideas paragraph by paragraph, with each one flowing into the next. Election leaflets, however, will use headings, bullet points, etc…

Argumentative language is logical, rational and convincing. Obviously there is a certain amount of overlap with the language of information, with a focus on facts, statistics and examples. However, unlike the language of information, you are not presenting all of the facts and allowing the reader to decide for themselves. Instead, you are emphasising only those facts which support your point of view and offering logical reasons why those who disagree with your viewpoint are wrong.

A strong argument uses logic and reason:
1. to arrive at a particular point of view
2. to defend this position and
3. to refute counter arguments.

Once a person stops utilising the facts to prove their point and resorts to personal insults, they are no longer arguing, they are now persuading.

Language of Persuasion

What is it?
Writing which draws you in emotionally to manipulate how you feel and how you think is persuasive.

Advertisements, competition entries, sermons, inspirational speeches.

It depends on the genre. Advertisements pay close attention to layout and use a wide variety of headings and font sizes for captions, slogans, statistics etc. A persuasive speech will use a traditional essay-style layout. A competition entry or proposal will have a clear structure – introduction; details (3 – 4 paragraphs); what you expect to happen next.

Rather than purely factual (information) or logical (argument), persuasion manipulates your emotions to make you feel strongly about an issue. The writer draws on personal experiences to lure the reader or viewer into feeling certain emotions – sympathy, distress, disgust, admiration, pride, anger, fear, amusement. Once you are emotionally ‘hooked’ it becomes harder to analyse, assess and accept or reject the writer’s message logically because the heart, not the head, is now in the driving seat! Asking rhetorical questions, making urgent references to time, using emphatic, superlative and emotive words, repeating a key phrase, adopting collective personal pronouns, creating vivid imagery, hyperbole, contrast and humour are all effective ways of manipulating people’s feelings. Argument & persuasion often overlap – logic and emotion is a great combination if you want to win people over. You’ll also find significant overlap between the language of persuasion and descriptive writing, which also draws people in emotionally.

Language of Description / Narration

What is it?
Narrative language tells a story, descriptive language paints a picture using words.

Novels, short stories, memoirs and diary entries narrate. Travel writing, personal essays and feature articles describe.

All stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Hemmingway’s six word short story “For sale, baby shoes, never worn” has all the ingredients of a compelling story:
set the scene, rousing the reader’s curiosity (for sale)
draw the reader into the action emotionally (baby shoes)
finish with an unexpected development (never worn)
Obviously you need a more fully developed plot, setting and characters for a 1,000 word short story. Descriptive essays are less demanding because they do not require a plot, but they too must draw the reader in emotionally to what is being described.

To write descriptively, you must choose specific verbs. Rather than writing “Susan walks over and says she’s really excited” select verbs which add energy and movement: “Susan bounces over, squealing with excitement”.
Adjectives add details about the size, shape, texture, location etc of the noun being described. Rather than writing “As rain fell from the sky, my daughter began to cry” include adjectives which add vivid detail “As heavy rain thundered from the dark grey sky, tiny tears flooded my daughter’s pale face”. However, be careful not to overload your sentences – too many adjectives can make your writing slow and cumbersome.
Evoke all five senses (sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch) to add depth to your writing. Rather than writing “A van pulled up and a burly man jumped out, ran into the shop, pulled out a gun and demanded that the shop assistant open the till” instead create a multi-sensory experience for the reader: “A shiny black van screeched to a halt and a burly man jumped out, bursting through the double doors and barrelling into the shop. Reaching for the cold metal butt of his revolver, he growled at the trembling shop assistant “open the f**king till!”.

Aesthetic Language

What is it?
Language which is crafted to create something beautiful. Only the language of information deliberately avoids trying to be beautiful & engaging, choosing instead to present the facts in a purely objective fashion. All other types – argumentative, persuasive, narrative and descriptive – aim for beauty as well as clarity.

Poetry, song lyrics, novels, plays. Any great work of art: think William Shakespeare, James Joyce, Seamus Heaney or equally Emily Bronte, Sylvia Plath, Eavan Boland.

There are no rules, there is only beauty. Emily Dickinson ignored all the ‘rules’ of grammar to create an aesthetic effect; so did James Joyce. Great writers master their craft by obeying the rules at first but they will also experiment and play with language to create something new.

Similes, metaphors, personification, symbolism, contrast, alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhyme, rhythm, recurring motifs, pathetic fallacy, allusion, foreshadowing, dramatic irony, poetic justice. However, just using literary techniques won’t necessarily make your writing aesthetically pleasing and beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, so what I might consider beautiful, you might consider boring.

Rant vs well constructed argument

It’s day three of cleaning out my classroom (I’m starting a new job as an English Advisor with the Junior Cycle for Teachers service in 10 days time!) and I’m really really tempted to stop sorting the good from the bad and the ugly because it’s taking so bloody long!!! 87% of me wants to just fling the lot into boxes and be done with it.

But because we’re also moving into a new house – which we’ve been painstakingly renovating all summer – I don’t want loads of boxes of unnecessary crap cramping our new living quarters.

Anyway, as the clear out progresses, what’s surprised me is how often I’m stumbling upon half crumpled scraps of paper with hastily scribbed scrawls on them that I don’t want to keep necessarily, but which I don’t want to dump either…

Here’s one such example from a public speaking class. I’m pretty sure we just brainstormed this together (co-creation of knowledge how are ya!) rather than it being something I prepared in advance.


Rant =

  1. Collection of random thoughts with little order or structure
  2. Overwhelmingly negative
  3. Anger = dominant tone
  4. No balance
  5. No facts / statistics
  6. Examples given are all personal
  7. Flawed logic – one or two examples are used to draw big (erroneous) conclusions
  8. Ad hominem attacks – any attempts to refute other viewpoints consist of attacks on the people who hold these beliefs rather than on the beliefs themselves.

Argument =

  1. Structured
  2. Balanced
  3. Supported by facts / statistics
  4. Reasonable anger (if any) or disappointment rather than rage
  5. Personal examples situated in wider context
  6. Sound logic – inductive & deductive reasoning in evidence
  7. Refutation & rebuttal focused on the issues NOT personalities

Anyway, I figure such scraps of wisdom are better stored here rather than buried in the bottom of a box of other such random bits of paper. And it’s better than throwing them out too…

Classwork Essay Titles

I’m just cleaning out my classroom, so I’m going to plonk this exercise here for future reference, rather than saving a piece of paper that will end up in the bottom of a box of other random pieces of paper!

Write a response to ONE of the following. You have 1hr 10mins.

1. Write an article (serious and/or humorous) for your school magazine titled “10 ways to survive secondary school”


2. Write a sensational news report or your school website describing your debs – who was there! what they wore! who got drunk! who got kissed! who got dumped!


3. Write a news article giving advice (serious and/or lighthearted) to tourists visiting Ireland for the first time.

Here are some essay titles I gave my Leaving Certs in the run up to the exams:

1. Write a descriptive essay on the wonder and innocence of childhood.

2. Write a short story in which something funny happens.

3. Write a speech discussing the idea that, in schools, appearances often mask a disturbing reality. This speech will be delivered in front of the Minister for Education.

4. Write an article for a popular magazine examining some of the unanswerable questions we spend our lives pondering.

5. Write a personal essay discussing your philosophy of life and examining how this effects your behaviour and your relationships.

Here are a few more I’ve just found

1. Write a speech for International Women’s Day. You may take a serious and/or humorous approach

2. Write a descriptive essay on the beauty and the ugliness of our world.

3. Write a short story in which a small moment has a deep significance for the main character.

4. Write a personal essay in which you explore the people, the places and the experiences that have shaped you into the person you are today.

This lot below were topics for a TY public speaking competition:

  1. Irish women have yet to achieve equality
  2. Ireland does not need Europe to succeed as a nation
  3. Our greatest asset in Ireland is our education system
  4. Future generations will be furious at our indifference to protecting the environment
  5. As a nation and as individuals we must prioritise our mental health
  6. Our lack of digital literacy education in schools is a foolish and dangerous oversight
  7. In the modern world there is no such thing as a ‘generation gap’ between young and old

Yet more – all discovered over the course of two days as I clean out my classroom and dump random bits of paper scrawled with essay topics, homework exercises, class tests…

This list is from a TY public speaking class:

  1. Write out the speech you deliver at your sister / brother’s wedding or hen/stag
  2. Write the eulogy for a loved ones funeral
  3. Write a speech where you nominate someone for an award
  4. Propose some changes in the way your school is run at a student council meeting
  5. Prepare a lesson to teach first year students for a class – any subject, any topic!

Here are some debate topics I gave at some random date in the past…

Argue for or against one of the following motions:

  • Ireland should lower the voting age
  • School attendance should be voluntary
  • Parents should be punished for their childrens’ mistakes
  • TV talent shows are destroying the music industry
  • Beauty pageants do more harm than good
  • Doctor-assisted suicide should be legalised
  • Celebrities should not be role models

Every time I think I’ve come upon the last random selection of essay titles, I find more!

  1. Write a light-hearted speech about your pet hates in life
  2. Write a newspaper article in which you uncover and expose a scandal
  3. Write an entertaining descriptive essay for a competition under the title “If I ran this school”
  4. Write a debate speech in which you argue for or against the motion that “the future of publishing is digital”
  5. Write a personal essay entitled “I’m weird but that’s OK”



Writer’s Block

Mary & Hazel

I never really got the whole writer’s block thing. I don’t think I’ve experienced it since secondary school, and even then, it was usually just a case of leave it alone for a while, let it stew, come back later and voilá.

Now I have it, I get it.

I have it since Hazel’s Nana, my mum-in-law Mary, died. My last proper blog post is from the 12th of April. She died, quite suddenly after a brief ten week illness, on the 18th of April.

I managed, with great difficulty, after hours and hours, over days and days of staring at a blank screen and forcing out a few words onto the page,  to come up with my keynote address for the ICTedu conference in LIT, Thurles. It went well and for a few brief hours I forgot about the void. When it came crashing back that evening… well, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.

I guess I’m just writing to explain my long absence and to apologise to anyone who contacted me in the past 5 weeks and heard nothing back.

Everything seems pretty unimportant right now, but I’m sure, that too, shall pass.

For those of you who’ve been using the site all year and are about to sit the exams, with all my heart I sincerely wish you the best of luck. To my own students, thanks for your patience. I know I haven’t been entirely myself of late.

Evelyn x