Thursday, April 09, 2009

Rakes and Rebels

Last Thursday night saw members of Speak Easy Toastmasters take part in a very special meeting with the title “Rakes and Rebels” which was a historical meeting, with a difference.

Members over the past number of weeks researched different people who lived in Mallow in the late 17 and early 1800’s and of course the events and social issues of that time.

But, as well as delivering their speeches, the speakers spoke in the first instance, putting themselves in the place of the characters they were researching, and the result was nothing short of phenomenal.

The Garden Room in the Hibernian hotel, was for a couple of hours transported back into the 1700’s as the famous “Long Room” complete with an assortment of pikes, candles, jugs and various other items from that era.

Members and guests signed the register using goose quills and those taking part in the program were in period dress.

The entire meeting was conducted as if it was taking place in that bygone era, including the topics session.

The meeting was opened by The Hon. James Walsh of Skahana (Tony O’Regan) who told us where we should have tied our horses and also warned us of the no spitting rule.
He told us of the purpose of the meeting which was to hear the stories and experiences of those sitting round the table with him.

The first speaker was, Mortimer Murphy esq. Of Manor of Mallow (Ray Ryan) and also the manager of the long room who told us of the range of entertainment and food and drink that he provided. Mallow Spa was he said, on par with Bath and Tunbridge Wells.

Next to speak was Mrs. Welstead (Anne Buckley) who told us that the life of the gentry was certainly not enjoyed by everyone. She told how she was cured by drinking the spa waters, some of the local entertainment of the time and finished with a rendition of “The Ballad of the Hot Wells”.

Mrs Canty (Angela Sheehan), Landlady of a rooming house in Ballydaheen told us of a conspiracy by members of the Meath Militia stationed in the town, how it was discovered and the resulting consequences.

Mrs Mary Davis (Cáit Murry), mother of Thomas Davis told of her memories of Mallow, the layout of the town and the plans that were being made at the time for the building of the new churches, a Bridewell and marked but also the living conditions of people living in mud cabins in Mallows lanes.

Finally the V Rev Richard Cannon Smiddy (Joe Hassett) who spend four years as curate in Mallow and who is not PP of Ahada, shared with us his memories of the time he spend among the people of Mallow and its surrounds. His memories included the great flood, the tales of rescues, and the misery that people suffered. He also described the emigration of the time and even that the blackwater froze over.

The second half of the meeting was conducted by Captain D’Arcy (Liam Flynn) the local Magistrate. He got the audience involved by speaking of issues of the day and what we thought of them.

Speak Easy Toastmasters would like to thank Kevin Myres of The Mallow Field Club who provided invaluable assistance to our members in compiling the historical data for this meeting.
Photographs from the meeting as can be seen via our website,

Our next meeting is on April 16th in the Hibernian Hotel at 8.00pm sharp and you are invited.

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