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12th Jun 2018

Friends of Clare teens who drowned in a quarry face insensitive question in Junior Cert exam

Kate Demolder

Junior Cert

A question in many of the students’ first exam brought back the horror of the tragic accident just days before.

Friends of the two teenage boys who got into difficulty and died while swimming in a quarry in County Clare recently experienced a harrowingly unfortunate question during an English exam this week.

The Junior Certificate students, who were taking their State exams this week, came across a grammar question (originally reported by The Irish Independent) on page 16 of Section B of the paper about not being allowed to swim in an old quarry.

The students sat to take their first paper on Wednesday last, only to see a question asking them to select the correct word which sounds the same in the following sentence: “I was not allowed/aloud to swim in the old quarry.”

The exam came only days after a number of the two boys’ friends had attended their funerals in Ennis, County Clare.

Gardaí and emergency services were called to an incident at a quarry lake at Knockanean, Ennis on Thursday, 31st May which saw two 15-year-old boys were taken from the lake.

Efforts were made to resuscitate them once they were brought ashore, but were later pronounced dead when they arrived in hospital.

Friends since primary school, Shay lost his life trying to save Jack.

JOE spoke to Fine Gael Clare County councillor Mary Howard, who believes that the situation was avoidable.

“I believe an effort should have been made to redact the question for a very small number of students who have been directly affected by this tragedy,” she began.

“This would not be a very hard thing to do and the exam authors would have been aware of the tragic events of 31 May.”

The two boys were out swimming with a group of friends in a place that sees legions of local teenagers swim in its waters every summer.

JOE has reached out to the The State Examinations Commission (SEC) for comment.

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