AFTER a lapse of around 30 years, Latin is back in St Colman’s College, Claremorris. Four students have expressed an interest in taking the subject for the Junior Certificate examinations in 2010. It is understood that they are the only students in the province of Connacht contemplating doing the subject for either the Junior or Leaving Cert exams at this time.
Latin was once taught extensively in many schools throughout the country and here in the Connacht region. Numerous students took the subject in St Colman’s College up to the mid-1970s. But over the past three decades, the study of Latin and Greek and Classical Studies went out of favour and all but vanished from the curriculum.
Roy Hession, a member of the staff at St Colman’s College, and who is also a member of the Classical Association of Ireland, decided to give students the option of taking Latin as a course subject for the Junior Certificate.
The Cambridge Latin Course is the guideline for the current effort to revive interest in Latin in St Colman’s College and Roy hopes that some of the students currently attending the school will be encouraged by their fathers who already took Latin as a major subject during their years in the school.
“There is obvious goodwill towards the subject. It is not a difficult language and students taking the subject can confidently aim for good marks. The Greek and Latin Academy are hoping to create a far greater interest in these languages and aim to create a fresh awareness of the languages at national level over the coming months.
“At the moment, we are doing the subject for half an hour one evening a week after school and we also hope to take a few Saturday sessions. The idea is to progress this to the Junior Cert in 2010 and ultimately to re-introduce Latin as an optional subject for the senior cycle,” says Roy.
It is estimated that over half the words in the English language come directly from Latin. The Romans continue to be a source of fascination for some people and their extraordinary engineering skills can still arouse a sense of awe. They also provided the basis for the legal system which operates in many parts of Europe to this day while the musings of some of their top writers and poets has resonated strongly across Europe down through the centuries.