How I came to write with a fountain pen

My Sheaffer fountain pen

The silver Sheaffer pen on this page is the fountain pen I used to pass the FE1 exams to gain entry to the Law Society. This pen sparked a love of fountain pens and I have used one in my daily life ever since.

I bought the pen in a jewellers in the Liffey Valley shopping centre and I had a specific reason for doing so. The exams I faced were the first exams I was to sit in well over 20 years, since I had graduated from UCD with my Commerce degree in 1980.

I had done some research on facing the FE1s which are the entrance exams to become eligible to enter into a solicitor’s apprenticeship and be accepted into the Law Society to do the professional practice courses.

Most law students sitting these exams sit them in groups of two or three and eventually, after a number of sittings, pass all eight exams and become apprentice solicitors. I did not have this time, however, as I was a mature student in my early 40s.

I had been involved in a Celtic Tiger property development in Longford and had lost everything when the market crashed from 2008 onwards. I was undertaking all 8 FE1 exams in one sitting, something that is pretty rare.

I was confident I could give myself a great chance of passing by my application to my studies and the preparatory course I was doing in Griffith College, Dublin. But one problem that reared its head was the mental and physical requirements of sitting such tough exams-8 of them-in a short period of time.

Time management for each individual exam would be critical, buth the actual physical task of writing the required 5 answers for each paper on 36 minutes flat would also present a problem.

So, I researched the most efficient way to write and discovered it was to use a fountain pen as you can let your hand/arm glide across the paper with a fountain pen-there is no pressing down with downward pressure. The avoidance of this need to press down on the paper for eight exams, each of which was three hours, was bound to be beneficial in my attempt to pass them.

This may seem like a minor, trivial problem to face. But when you are facing eight exams with extremely tight time restrictions and a great deal of writing to be done the chances of physical fatigue were high and a peril that I could attempt to counter by a little research beforehand.

And that is how and why I bought this fountain pen. Thankfully, I passed all eight exams at the one sitting and am now a practicing solicitor.

I have retained my love of fountain pens and have a nice collection of Pelikans. I will publish a blog post in the near future about these pens and show you some pictures.

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