Mindfulness Unlocked is a beautiful original and creative work full of stories of the Oracle Rhema, who shares her wisdom and insights gained from practising mindfulness.  The Oracle Rhema is a fictional character who reminds us of our long-standing culture and tradition of storytelling. We all need to believe that everyone possesses insights and wisdom, like the Oracle Rhema, that can be unlocked to help us lead a mindful life where we can grow and flourish.

You can purchase Mindfulness Unlocked at Waterstones Drogheda, The Hill of Tara coffee shop. http://www.amazon.co.uk

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Mindfulness Unlocked -book launch of Francis O’Toole’s second book
Sat 7:30 PMConyngham Arms Hotel
March 21st.  Slane, Co. Meath
Book launch – Slane –

This is a difficult time for many in dealing with a pandemic. In the interest of health & safety, I decided to postpone the launch of Mindfulness Unlocked.

Thanks for your ongoing support.


Subject Choice Options 2020

Selecting the right subjects for senior cycle, and the level at which to take them, is a critical task faced over  60,000 second-level students every year. Before embarking on the Leaving Cert. programme students must consider their future educational goals as decisions they make now can have consequences for future college applications.

There are good reasons why students tend to have a science subject and a third language in their arsenal and, as you will find out if you read on, there are no “soft” options on the Leaving Cert exam.

Video: Studying STEM subjects in school and college and their importance for Irish industry.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Leaving Cert Subjects 

STEAM – What does this stand for?

National framework of qualifications. https://nfq.qqi.ie/

Things that employers look for in all employees –  1 Motivation and enthusiasm  2  Teamwork  3 Communication skills 4 Flexibility and adaptability 5 Problem solving and initiative.


Subject Choice

group-work.jpgTalk to older students or brothers and sisters who are studying same subject.

Try a quick glance at some of the text books.

Talk to the subject teacher.

Read school booklet on subject choice and career links.

Choose subject you like …..not the subject that your friends would like you to do.

Make sure you have the subjects necessary for course requirements in college and university.


Play it cool…….

Subject requirement for college 


Third Language

Most students will study a continental language. This is a good choice as a third language is a requirement for matriculation for the vast majority of courses in the NUI colleges. If you want to keep all your options open stick with the language studies.

Science Subjects

Choosing a subject in the field of science is also a popular choice. A lot of courses require a science subject especially those in the area of medicine, engineering and science. Biology is a firm favourite but this doesn’t mean it’s the easiest. Biology is a long course that requires a lot of rote learning. Mathematically minded students might do better in Chemistry or Physics. Be aware that some medical courses require two science subjects e.g. courses in Dentistry and Medicine. And chemistry is a requirement for Pharmacy (TCD, RCSI, UCC), Veterinary Science (UCD), Dentistry (UCC) Medicine(UCC), Medical and Health Sciences (UCC), Human Nutrition and Dietetics(DIT).

Practical Subjects

Choosing a practical or creative subject can be a good option for students. The practical subjects have project work that accounts for a substantial percentage of the overall grade. This can ease the burden on students. Having a practical focus can add variety to your Leaving Cert subject combination and if you have a passion for the subject the practical element can be an outlet for stress, this can be especially true for art students, musicians or wood-turners.

DCG 40%

Music 50%

Art 50%

History 20%

Geography 20%

French 45%

German 45%

Irish 40%

Course Work and Projects

Many subjects now contain a course work or project element and unfortunately the deadlines for these projects fall very closely together. The deadline for the DCG coursework is in late February. March sees the deadline for projects in Home Economics, Engineering, Art, Technology and LCVP.  Agricultural Science coursework deadline is early April and the end of April sees the coursework deadline for the big hitters History and Geography, as well as Religious Studies, Music,  Home Economics (textile elective) and the Construction Studies project.  It is wise to consider the coursework involved in the subject combination you are thinking about before making your final decision.

Interests and Aptitude/Ability Assessments

It is a good idea to choose subjects that you are good at and that you have an interest in. Most schools will administer aptitude tests such as the DAT or CAT and offer feedback on your performance. You may show signs of having natural aptitude in one or two areas. Some areas you might show strengths in include: verbal or numerical reasoning, spatial awareness, mechanical reasoning. Strengths in these areas will point you in direction of career areas that could compliment your ability.

Interest assessments can be very enlightening for students. Through answering a series of preference questions interest assessments can reveal a lot about your work preferences. The Career Interests Profiler on CareersPortal takes about 15 minutes to complete. This instrument provides you with a free printable report containing a summary of your career interests, along with some occupations that match your interest profile. Being armed with this information helps students to pick subjects that might feed into these careers.

Complimentary Subjects

Everyone wants to reduce the workload so think about what subjects might overlap. Home Economics and Biology overlap in human anatomy sections, Home Economics also overlaps with Business Studies. There is a strong correlation between Physics and Applied Maths, and Agricultural Science (some students take on extra subjects outside of school)  has some overlap with Geography and Biology. The Link Modules in the LCVP programme are deeply rooted in the Business Studies course. So if a student chooses complimentary subjects they might be able to cut down on some of the study.


Many colleges require students to hold pass grades in languages for matriculation. These include all NUI colleges, Trinity College Dublin and University of Limerick (UL). These institutions require entrants to hold a pass in English, Irish and a third European language, or English and another language. Dublin City University requires entrants to hold a pass in maths and English or Irish. Students may qualify for an exemption from these requirements if they have a learning difficulty or if they were born outside of the state.


A pass in ordinary level maths is essential for entry to the majority of courses. The number of students now choosing foundation level maths is increasing every year and there is a growing number of colleges and courses that offer places to students who secure a minimum of a grade A or B in maths at this level. Use the ‘Accepts Foundation Level Maths’ filter in our CAO CourseFinder here to search relevant courses.

A few final tips

Do your research –Talk to teachers about the subjects you are considering. Many subjects are very different from their Junior Cert equivalent so make sure the course is what you imagined it to be. Talk to students who are currently in 5th and 6th year about the subjects they are taking to get an idea of the topics covered and the workload involved. Browse through the Leaving Cert textbooks to gain a greater insight into the courses.

And lastly. . .

Be independent; well meaning parents may try to make the decision for their sons and daughters but ultimately this is your Leaving Cert and you should take responsibility for the decision. Try not to be overly influenced by your friends, choose the subjects you want to do and not the subjects all your friends are doing.

‘Study Away’ to bring International Universities to an Irish Audience


'Study Away' to bring International Universities to an Irish Audience

This November will see the inaugural Study Away event. Being hosted in the Raddison Blu St. Helen’s Hotel in Dublin it is set to be Ireland’s newest International Universities Event.

The event will welcome universities from all over the world, giving Irish students to talk to representatives from the various international schools and a chance to learn more about their options away from Ireland.

The event is being organized by David Hawkins, also known as The University Guy, who is a specialist in international university applications as well as being a member of the International Association for College Admission Counseling and an affiliated consultant to the Council of International Schools.

Comparison website Unifrog are also working in conjunction with Hawkings to bring Study Away into fruition.

A list of confirmed colleges and organizations is as follows:


Eduacation USA Ireland
University of Akron   Creighton University   Loyola Marymount University 

Missouri Western State University  New York University  Sewanee, the University of the South


University of British Columbia   Concordia University


ESCP Europe         Gilon Institute of Higher Education         IE University, Spain
University College Utrecht, the Netherlands

For more information or to book your place at ‘Study Abroad’ on Friday, November 15th click here.

To see an essential guide and additional information on going to college outside of Ireland see our dedicated Studying Abroad section by clicking here.

Back To Their Roots: Teagasc Hosting Horticulture Courses

Could a career in horticulture be the right path for you?

Back To Their Roots: Teagasc Hosting Horticulture Courses

Teagasc are hosting a number of courses through their College of Amenity Horticulture, based in the National Botanical Gardens. There are currently 5 programmes on offer between their centre at the National Botanical Gardens and the unique setting of their Ashtown campus, just north of Dublin City.

Students will spend 16 weeks of practical learning on approved horticultural units within the industry directly linked to their chosen learning stream. This will enable students to learn the management and manual skills associated with their chosen specialism.

Sixteen weeks are also spent at the College. The emphasis during this course is both on the development of business and management skills and also on developing proficiency in a range of skills associated their chosen stream of learning.

Examples of the programmes below display the extensive body of coursework available.

Horticulture Enterprise (Level 5 QQI):

The general horticulture course is designed to allow students to gain a firm foothold in the horticultural world and to allow progression in to more specialized fields at Level 6. Here, students will learn basics such as work practice, plant protection and science, soil science and growing media and how to identify plants.

Progression from Level 5 to Level 6 allows students to choose a field to sepcialize in

Landscape Enterprise (Level 6 QQI):

This comprehensive course covers key components of the landscaping process such as design and construction, park and garden supervision and production mechanisation. Through this course students will gain practical knowledge and experience through working on the landscaping elements of the Ashtown Campus.

Propagation and Tree Management (Level 6 QQI):

During this programme students will learn essential skills with regards to tree and nursery enterprise. Modules covered within this course handle subjects such as garden centre operations and nursery stock production.

Food Production (Level 6 QQI):

With a focus towards the production of fruit and vegetables, this particular course gives students a chance to get their foot on the ladder with regards to practicing the production and maintenance of these crops. Over the course of their learning, students can expect to cover features such as market gardening, organic crop production and sustainable horticulture as well as furthering their knowledge on the environment and ecology.

Sports Turf Enterprise (Level 6 QQI):

This outlet of horticulture will allow students to embark on learning about the growing industry within the realms of sports turf. The Ashtown campus contains a dedicated grass and golf area where students will be able to perfect their skills and knowledge with regards to managing sports ground.

All the above courses also provide personal development modules as well as a wide range of elective subjects which will allow students to further the horizon of their learning.

Opportunities on completion of a Level 6 course include progression to Year 2 of the Level 7 Horticulture programme being hosted by Waterford I.T. as well as prospects throughout the field of horticulture.

To apply to these courses or for more information Click Here.

The College of Amenity Horticulture, National Botanic Gardens will also be holding their open day on Thursday October 3rd from 2PM until 4.30PM.

TY Work Experience


Search for Placements

TY Work Experience

Every year thousands of students across Ireland undertake short work placements to get a sample of what working life is like. Equally, thousands of employers support these students in this important first step into the world of work by allowing them to experience the normal day-to-day activities of their business.

These valuable experiences have been shown to be very influential in the choices students make at the beginning of their career path. This Work experience programme links together employers, teachers, parents and students to encourage successful and rewarding work placements for all involved.