It's a bit like waiting for a bus to come. It's raining, it seems to be taking forever. Civilisations have risen and fallen in less time than that. And then, two buses arrive together. For years, Speakeasy Toastmasters have longed for a top place on the winners podium at the District Spring Conference in one or the other of the big competitions - the International Speech Contest or the Speech Evaluation Contest. And last weekend at the District 71 Spring Conference in Cork, the unbelievable double was achieved.
The packed attendance at the Clayton Hotel, Silver Springs rose to applaud the achievements of two Speakeasy members. In the International Speech Contest, Deirdre Linehan engaged in verbal jousting with nine of the most accomplished speakers in Ireland and the United Kingdom. It was a thoroughly fascinating contest with very little deviation in quality between ten brilliant speeches. Anne Dooley, a native of County Clare but representing Warrington Toastmasters in the UK, delivered an emotionally uplifting speech - "Take that chance" which chronicled her struggles as a young immigrant in London. Holly Blake of Carrigaline referenced her experiences with the homeless in London in a moving presentation - "Always, always be a little bit kinder". Colm McGlade of Rathfarnham delivered a touching tribute to his mother in "A Reason to Live".
However, Deirdre, representing Fáilte and Speakeasy Toastmasters lifted the roof off the Convention Centre with her rendition of "DOB's Army". And in so doing, lifted the ultimate prize! She becomes only the second Cork representative in the forty years of the International Speech Contest to win the award District 71 title. Déirdre will now go forward to represent Ireland and the UK in the World Semi-Finals in Chicago in August. We send her our every best wish as she strives to achieve the title of World Champion Public Speaker.
In the Speech Evaluation Contest, Pat Sexton emerged victorious at the fourth time of asking. Facing stiff opposition from competitors from Cork, Tipperary, Dublin, Glasgow and the North of England, Pat's critique of Laura Bruce's "Give up the house cleaning" won over the minds and perhaps the hearts of the adjudicators. He becomes the only Cork representative ever to win this elusive title.
Victories of this magnitude are extremely rare. Yet, at each and every Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting, important "little victories" happen. It could be the guest who answers a topic, or the member presenting an" Ice-breaker"speech,or even acting as the Chairperson of the meeting. It is everyone who takes part and gives it their best shot.
Guests are always welcome and are not obliged to speak unless they wish to do so. The Rolling Stones may be playing in Croke Park but we can give you satisfaction or even a "honky Tonk" woman. We look forward to seeing you.