A man fulfils a childhood dream; to visit the lighthouse where his grandfather worked and was last seen. Students will do comprehension and resequencing activities, letter-writing and finally tell a story of their own.
Suitable for: All students from 1st year – TY
Documentary length: 9 mins
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Radio presenter Cathal never met his grandfather Patrick Monaghan because he disappeared in 1937. Last seen just before a storm at the lighthouse in Blackrock, Co. Cork where he used to work, Patrick Monaghan’s disappearance has always been a source of fascination to Cathal. Although he came close to visiting it as a child, he has never been out to the lighthouse. This short documentary enables students to listen to interviews and explore sound effects, which form an integral part of the documentary’s structure as the narrator tells the story of his grandfather’s life and finally makes the trip, via helicopter to the site of his grandfather’s last home.
The thematic unit of work uses the documentary as a primary text, as is recommended in the English Specification.
Throughout the unit of work, students will be guided through activities which include:
- A think, pair, share discussion which explores possible themes in the documentary
- An active-listening exercise exploring sound effects and their impact
- A set of reordering and rewriting tasks (with differentiated worksheets) based on an a clip from the documentary, followed by a self-assessment reflection sheet.
- A cloze-test worksheet exploring the language used in the documentary
- Writing a functional/ creative letter using the documentary content a springboard
The unit builds up to the final, summative task; researching and narrating a historical event of the student’s choice.
The summative task is preceded by scaffolding activities, followed by AfL materials including self and peers assessment activities.
Note: This documentary makes brief mention of a death so teachers should be mindful of this if students may have experienced recent losses.
Documentary description from the documentary makers:
Patrick Monaghan, was a lighthouse-keeper.
In September 1937, he was swept from the Blackrock lighthouse, 10 miles off the coast of Mayo, by a freak wave. His body was never discovered.
Seven months later, his wife gave birth to a girl, Mamie. She, in turn, had eight children, including radio presenter, Cathal.
For years, Mamie and her family had looked from the Mayo shore at the spec that is Blackrock Lighthouse - Patrick's final resting-place.
In June 2010, with the help of Irish Lights, Mamie and Cathal made the journey to Blackrock Lighthouse.
Commissioners of Irish Lights
Especially John Gore Grimes and the lighthouse-keeper, John Ruane.
Also, Joe Beirne of Midwest Radio who made the recording of singer, Padraig Ó Maolruaidh available.
The Curious Ear is produced by Ronan Kelly firstname.lastname@example.org
(A short Irish documentary from RTE Radio, Ireland)