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Mo Ghrá Sa: Everything You Need To Know

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

Mo Ghrá Sa is an Irish poem that comes up in the Irish oral examinations as well as on paper 2 of the written exam. This poem explores a poet's love for her man based on personality and despite his poor looks.

Mo Ghrá Sa was written by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and is regularly asked in the leaving certificate. Keep reading for a breakdown of the poem’s themes and tone, as well as some tips for preparing for the questions that come up in both the oral and written exams on Mo Ghrá Sa.


This poem explores the reality of love as told by a female poet who is describing her man. She does not take an idealistic view of love, instead, she shows the shortcomings of her lover, as well as why she likes him. This makes the poem an accurate depiction of a loving relationship as opposed to a declaration of infatuation by the poet.


The tone of Mo Ghrá Sa is a humorous one, that almost breaches across into sarcasm. This is highlighted in the opening verse when the poet states that her man is not as beautiful as any flower. The tone is also very honest, the poet gives her opinion of the man's questionable hygiene and appearance, but goes on to declare her love for him due to his personality.

Preparing for Mo Ghrá Sa Questions

This poem comes up in two separate sections of the Irish leaving cert. So, you’ll need to prepare for answering it in different ways. You will be tested on the pronunciation of the poem, as well as long questions on the themes, tones, word usage, and more. There are a bunch of great online resources that you can use to prepare for this exam. You can check out past papers, as well as several Youtube videos and podcasts that analyze the poem.

Oral Exams

For the oral exams, students will need to read the poem aloud to the examiner. Usually, students will read three paragraphs from the piece to showcase their pronunciation and reading abilities. So when preparing for the Mo Ghrá Sa question on your oral exam, you should practice reading the piece repeatedly until you have nailed the pronunciation. As a result, you only need to be comfortable reading the piece for the oral tests, you don’t need to be able to provide the in-depth analysis required to get high marks on this question in the written test.

Written Exams

If you are taking Higher Level Irish for your leaving cert, then you will need to able to answer questions on Mo Ghrá Sa in the same way that you would for a higher level English poetry exam question.

This means that you’ll need to be able to recite key passages of the poem, as well as formulate detailed answers to questions on the tone and themes of the piece.

For Ordinary Level students, the questions are similar, however, they are more simple, and the poem is also printed out for students, meaning that you won't have to memorize as many details regarding your answer.

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