Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Irish Literature Alive

M. Joy Gorence
Collier County Schools


Literature of Ireland comes alive with an introduction to the writings of Mc Court, Heaney and Yeats.


The student uses effective strategies for informal and formal discussions, including listening actively and reflectively, connecting to and building on the ideas of a previous speaker, and respecting the viewpoints of others.


Internet access

- Poems by Seamus Heaney, such as "Digging" or "Blackberry-Picking," or "Bog." (Heaney, Seamus. [Selected Poems] 1966-1987. NY: Noonday Press, 1990.)- a copy for each student or one overhead copy.

-Poems by W.B. Yeats, such as "Leda and the Swan," September 1913, or "No Second Troy." (Finneran, Richard J. editor. [The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats]. Revised Second Edition. NY: Scribner Paperback Poetry, 1996. one copy per student or one overhead copy

-A list of modern and/or contemporary Irish writers (see attachment)- one copy for instructor

-McCourt, Frank. [Angela's Ashes] NY: Scribner, 1996.- one copy for instructor


1. Complete the lesson for the Irish Scavenger Hunt (#9481)

2. Give students basic background information regarding Irish History (#9481).

3. Read the following book for information on Yeats:
Ellmann, Richard. [Yeats: The Man and the Masks] NY: WW Norton, 1979.

4. Refer to weblinks for more information on the Yeats and Heaney.

(Extension preparation)

5.(In preparation for extension) Number the list of authors (See attachment). Put the numbers in a container. Have students pick a number. Give students the name of the author that corresponds with the number. Have students research an author for independent study or for class presentation.

6.Students are given the requirements for independent discovery of one writer (See attachment - File #2)


1. Complete the lesson for the Irish Scavenger Hunt (#9481)

2. Ask students if they have read or watched the movie based on [Angela's Ashes].

3. Read the opening of the novel (11-12) to the students.

4. Ask students to jot down vivid images from the passage read to them.

5. Have students share answers.

6. Give students copies of "Digging" by Seamus Heaney.

7. Students read "Digging" silently and highlight vivid images.

8. Review the terms metaphor, alliteration, analogy, allusion, theme, tone.

9. Ask students to identify literary techniques they recognize in the poem.

10. Discuss the Heaney's use of imagery to help enforce the theme.

11. Access internet site:

12. Play a reading of Heaney's poetry for the class. (see previous site listed)

13. Ask students to jot down images that catch their attention as they listen to his reading(s).

14. After listening to the poem(s) discuss Heaney's style of writing.

15. Give students a copy of one of W.B. Yeats' poems.

16. Repeat the process used to discuss Heaney's writing.

17. Give lecture on Yeats. (Depending on interest, refer to [Yeats: The Man and the Masks] by Ellmann Richard.)

18. Give students a poem by Yeats or Heaney and have them write an essay for assessment (see assessment procedures)

19. Extension - Independent Author Research and presentation.


1.Give students another poem by either Heaney or Yeats and ask them to identify literary techniques the poet uses.

2.Students may work in pairs for a discussion of the poem. Students will then work together or independently (depending on the ability of the group) to write a formal essay (400-700 words) that describes:

A. the theme of the poem;
B. the literary techniques the poet uses to help reinforce the theme, which would help to emphasize why this work may be considered a classic.
C.the tone of the poem;
D. stylistic devices that the poet may have used in one of the previous poems discussed in class.

3. Evaluate the essay written based on the following criteria:

A. Opening paragraph includes the name of author, the title of work, the tone of the work, the theme of the work, the stylistic devices, which identifies it as a distinguished literary form and that the author uses to reinforce the theme and tone.
B. The body of the essay should include a full discussion of the techniques mentioned in the opening paragraph. Each paragraph should reinforce the theme.In addition, each paragraph should include specific examples from the poem.
C. The closing paragraph should summarize the theme and the author's effective use of techniques.
D. Students should adhere to all rules governing formal essay writing.


Complete lesson #9481

1. After students have discussed the writings of Heaney and Yeats, students may be given the name of an author to research.
2. Each student could be asked to investigate a writer that corresponds to a number (see file attachment).
3. Provide students with internet sites to access information on writers (see file attachment).
4. Have students give a powerpoint presentation or oral presentation of his/her writer.

Web Links

Introduction to Seamus Heaney – comprehensive site that includes readings of his works.
New York Times

Attached Files

A list of Irish Writers for Students to research.     File Extension: pdf

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.