The 25th annual TY English Evening was held in the BSR last night to round off the pupils’ course. As usual the formula consisted of pupils reading out interesting pieces from their Work Portfolios, and a guest commenting on these and then on ‘matters English’.

The guest speaker last night was the first ‘graduate’ of the TY programme itself, Sophie Grenham, journalist and Old Columban. She has an excellent series in The Glossmagazine called “Writers’ Block“, having interviewed writers such as Louise O’Neill, Dave Rudden, Sebastian Barry and Sarah Webb. The presenter, Mr Girdham, mentioned the many other guests who have spoken at the evening over the years, including: academics Professor Colin Graham of Maynooth (last year), Professor Terry Dolan, Professor Kevin Barry; English teachers John Fanagan, Colin Polden and Mary Milne; and journalists Trevor White and Tom Doorley.

Shannon Dent started, with a reading of her evocative piece ‘My Secret Place of Wonder’, about the lush nature of Ecuador. Sam Lawrence gave us ‘Being Underwater’, another but rather different world. Charlotte Klingmann, who the previous night had performed several pieces at the TY Music Concert, read out ‘The Greatest Pleasure of My Life’ (music, of course). Andrew Kim’s piece was vivid about the early morning urban sprawl of Seoul in South Korea. Kathryn Kelly struck a recent note, since ‘The Big Snow’ was her most memorable event of the last 12 months, as she took the chance to reconnect with old friends. Frances Wilkinson was the only person to read a poem, “You”, delicately examining the difficulty of saying those three words “I love you”. Tania Stokes’s garden piece about a day in the sunshine was fine with detail. Finally, Andrew Pollock ended things entertainingly with his quirkly essay ‘Is Donald Trump Bald?’

Sophie Grenham then gave an account of her writing life, and of how well the College had prepared her for this. She said it was particularly important for young writers to ‘find their own voice’, and she made attentive comments about each piece she had heard.

She then made the annual announcement of Premier Awards winners. Congratulations go to Shannon Dent, Charlotte Klingmann, Sam Lawrence, Songyon Oh, Eliza Somerville and Tania Stokes.