Sunday, January 21, 2018

Liam Neeson welcome!

At a recent function in Aras an Uachtaran, the actor Liam Neeson admitted that his greatest fear in life was speaking in public.It seems surprising that a hugely successful actor would have such a fear. Yet, there is something quite reassuring in learning that the fear of speaking in public can effect people from all walks of life , regardless of their career success. If you feel like Liam Neeson about speaking before an audience,Speakeasy Toastmasters can help you. Through our Meetings, you can acquire the art of communication with ease and confidence.And, most importantly this can be achieved in an enjoyable,effective,self placed programme.

Speech delivery is an integral part of a Toastmasters Meeting.At each meeting,different members present speeches to gain experience on organising their ideas and to feel comfortable in front of an audience.Speech subject matter is chosen by the speaker and usually reflects personal interests and viewpoints.As a result, Speakeasy Meetings have hosted subjects as diverse as the legalising of Marijuana to the art of thatching.At our last Meeting,a broad range of subjects were presented with historical events as a dominant theme.

John Brennan presented a fascinating dissertation on Legal Tender entitled- "Pounds,Shillings and Bitcoin -a brief history of money ".We devote most of our lives spending it,saving it or wondering where it all went.John took us back to a time before money was in use and bartering was in vogue. As John explained bartering had it's limitations.If one wished to exchange  a horse for a cow, you were dependent on " a coincidence of wants".Someone has to want a horse and have a cow for exchange at the same time. Things start to get messy when the value of the animals doesn't match! The Chinese were the first to introduce the unit of exchange in the form of IOU.And ,now, we have evolved to virtual currency in the form of Bitcoin.We live in an era of Contactless Payment and customers paying for mundane purchases with their watches.But, regardless of payment method,having "enough" money remains a universal need.

History of a different kind was the theme of Verna Byrne's speech."Spike- from past to present " was an absorbing and fascinating look at Spike Island,a 104 acres Island at the mouth of Cork Harbour.To readers of a particular age,Spike Island is synonymous with it's time as a prison for car thieves and joyriders in the 1980's.But it's story goes back to the Seventh Century when Spike was the site of a monastery.It's strategic location has seen it used as a Military Base by both the British and Irish forces and as a prison.At one stage,it housed up to Three Thousand prisoners, which is greater than the number incarcerated in Alcatraz.Following the handover of Irish Ports by the British authorities in 1938, Spike Island became an Irish Army base for forty five years. Verna spoke of living on the Island as a young child,a fact that brought a strong personal angle to her speech.In 2017, First Place in the World's Tourist Attraction was awarded to Spike Island,ahead of Buckingham Palace and The Eiffel Tower.

More up to date history formed the bedrock of Pat Sexton's speech -"1968 Apocalypse". Pat detailed the reasons why 1968 was an "Annus Horribilis".This was a year of uprisings, suppressions, blood on the streets,the end of dreams - a year when hope turned to despair and idealism for a better future became an orphan.It was the year when Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were murdered,thus disenfranchising an entire younger generation of American voters.In 1967 The Beatles sang -"All you need is Love" and The Rolling Stones sang -"We Love You".One year later,they sang "Revolution" and "Street Fighting Man".So why such a change in such a short time?Youth turned angry and frustrated at the perceived injustices perpetrated by "The Establishment ".Rioting in the streets of American Cities and all over the World seemed to rock the system but failed to overthrow it.1968 was the year that the Sixties Dream ended.

Conflict of a different nature was articulated by Liam Flynn with an interpretative reading from "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly".Jean Dominique Bauby, a French magazine editor suffered a massive stroke which left him completely paralysed and speechless.Able to use one eyelid, he managed to "dictate" an extraordinary memoir. Liam brought to life the writer's lonely existence and his flights of imagination that helped him rise above his circumstances.This interpretative piece rounded out an exciting programme of speeches.

A key  aspect of each Toastmasters Meeting is the Evaluation section. Each speaker is assigned an Evaluator whose role is to provide positive and detailed feedback.This reinforces the mutually supportive environment at our meetings - people building people.Michael Cronin, Marie Fitzpatrick,Noel O'Connor and Don McSweeney provided insightful,thoughtful and constructive recommendations to all the speakers. At the meeting's conclusion, awards were presented for outstanding contributions,including John Brennan,Best Speaker and Marie Fitzpatrick,Best Evaluator.

In other news,Speakeasy participated in The Davis College Model United Nations which took place over four days last week in The City Hall, Cork.This is the brainchild of Jose Horte of Davis College, Mallow. Since 2014 this project has grown spectacularly to involve Schools from all over Ireland and beyond.Each student plays the role of a Delegate to the UN and debating important motions on important issues like AIDS,the refugee crisis,weapon stockpiling and disabilities.
At the event's closing ceremony,Pat Sexton was Guest Speaker and Club President,Helsa Giles presented awards to various participants for outstanding Leadership and Communication.Speakeasy is privileged to be involved in such a worthy event and we congratulate Jose and the staff at Davis College for their achievements.

The next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting takes place in The Hibernian Hotel,Mallow on Thursday,25th January at 8.00PM.As always,guests are welcome. Indeed,it is not too late to jump on the train and take up a new and richly rewarding pastime that will improve your confidence and communication skills. We look forward to seeing you.
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