The Loreto ‘Rose’ who scored top marks

Rose Dolan is celebrating the fact that she scored the highest points possible in the Leaving Certificate, a total of seven H1s.

The Loreto student, who is also a highly skilled horsewoman, plans to study Law in Trinity College, but first will take a year out after what has been a demanding nine months for students.

“I had been thinking about it because I didn’t do Transition Year,” says the 18-year-old from College Hill, “and then just the way everything was, I thought it might be best to take a year out and maybe let things settle a little bit before going to college.”

Like all students, particularly those in Leaving Certificate, Rose was left reeling when the country went into lockdown.

“When the school closed in March, we were all thinking that we’d be back in two weeks or so, but then when that didn’t happen I was wondering how it would go. Online school just wasn’t the same, even though the teachers did an amazing job, it was just quite difficult.

“Then the exams were postponed for a month and a half, and that was also hard because you build up and work for the whole year towards June and the exams.

“But then they started talking about the calculated grades, so that was kinda weird,” she said.

“I worked hard the last two years so I was hoping that it would all work out and be okay, but at the same time the calculated grades had never been done before in Ireland, so I wasn’t sure.

“So I was delighted when I got the results on Monday, it all worked out in the end.”

Results day was alien too. Gone is time of meeting up at the school with friends to collect the grades from the principal.

“We had to log into an online portal that the department set up, and we had to put in our exam number and we had a passport, so it was weird to be honest. The results just came up on the computer screen.

“Even our Junior Cert results were handed to us, and we had no friends around to say well done to, we had to text instead.

“My mam (Carmel) and dad (Michael) were at work, but I rang mam while I was opening them so she could share in the moment.”

Gone too was the big celebratory night out, but Rose still managed to celebrate with friends on a smaller scale.

“I went for breakfast with my mam, and then to a friend’s house that evening. There were only a couple of us and we couldn’t really do much but it was still nice, it was fine.”

For her Leaving Cert subjects, Rose studied Spanish, Biology, Chemistry and Economics, as well as the compulsory English, Irish and Maths. Her favourite subjects were economics and Spanish, so opting for a future career path in law, Rose says, was “a hard decision”.

Following work experience at a law practice last year however, she decided to go for it and hopes “it will be the right choice”.

“Once I start into the course and see what it’s like, hopefully I might have a better idea of what specific area of law to pursue.”

Meanwhile in the year ahead, travelling abroad which would be normal for students her age, is definitely not on the cards given the Covid-19 climate.

“I don’t think I’ll be going anywhere this year, but I’ll hopefully get some work and some more experience, do my driving test and all that kind of thing.”

With a name like Dolan in these parts, it is only manners to ask if Rose is musical, and it turns out her grandad is Ben Dolan, and her granduncle was the legendary Joe Dolan.

“I did do music for a few years, I participated in the fleadhs a good bit but I took a break from it in the last couple of years, but it is something I might get back into this year.”

Having a hobby is something Rose would advise all students, in particular those working towards the Leaving Certs:

“I went horse riding every single evening during sixth year and still managed to do well. I think that’s really important to keep a hobby, to have some downtime and relax, it helps keep the stress at bay.”

She also advises students facing a similarly uncertain year ahead to keep going throughout the year “and it will all work out in the end.”

Rose finishes by saying a big “thank you” to her parents, Carmel and Michael, and to her sister Emma, who is now in fifth year.

“And thank you to Ms Bell and all the teachers in Loreto, they’ve been really, really good all throughout the years.”

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