Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Laughter is the Best Medicine!

For anyone in need of a lift or even some therapy, last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters Humorous Speech Night was a welcome dose of laughter. There were belly laughs, guffaws and applause as five Contestants clashed verbal swords to win the adjudicators' votes. There were tales of embarrassment, love and jealousy with a portion of criminology and a large helping of codology mixed in!

"Three Likely Tales - an alter boy, a mother and The Canon" was the curious tale of the irritable and pompous Canon who was partial to his "night cap" of milk laced with whiskey, the no nonsense mother and the humiliated alter boy who learned to his satisfaction that "revenge is best served cold!" Delivered with aplomb by Bobby Buckley, he suggested that any reference to characters, living or dead, was purely coincidental. 

Theresa O'Reilly pointed the finger at parents and grand - parents who devoted their affections, almost exclusively, on only sons. "The One and Only" was about the golden boy who can do no wrong and can wind their grannies around their little finger. Spoken from the exasperated sister's perspective, it showed how sisters become invisible as parents lavish all their praise and zero admonishment to their spoiled "only boy". 
Theresa O'Reilly, Michael Cronin, Clare O'Connell, Bobby Buckley & Pat Sexton. 

Some people marry for love or to avoid loneliness. Others marry for money. But, for Claire O'Connell, it is all about "location, location, location". For Claire, the key question is "Do You Like the Douglas Area?" It has everything she needs in facilities and convenience - just roll out of bed and, minutes later, she finds herself in work. So smitten by the suburban location, her main criteria for a man is a liking for Douglas and a willingness to make a down payment for a house there! But, alas, such men are so hard to find. 

Michael Cronin can't say no! This willingness to put himself forward has led to a successful career in Toastmasters. He learned to feel the fear and do it anyway ". However, he is always tasked with the duty of collecting for Charity at Flag days.His speech - "Why Me?"highlighted the many hair - raising and embarrassing situations that no God fearing Catholic should endure. It seems that those who "the Gods wish to punish, they first embarrass". 

The final speech of the night was "As Good as Goldilocks". Pat Sexton made the case that society's ills are due to the malign influence of that notorious girl and her criminal behaviour. In truth, Goldilocks wasn't good at all! 

In the second competition of the night, four members did battle in The Table Topics Contest. Claire O'Connell, Pat Sexton, Bobby Buckley and Michael Cronin were given the challenge of addressing the question - "What was the best piece of advice you ever received?" In this Contest, competitors leave the room and receive the question when it is their turn to speak. Reference was made to the wisdom of Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and Albert Einstein as contestants spoke about their most useful pieces of advice. 

At the Meeting's conclusion, the winners were announced. In the Table Topics Contest, the Winner was Pat Sexton. In runner-up place was Michael Cronin. In the Humorous Speech Contest, the positions were reversed with Michael Cronin emerging victorious and Pat Sexton in Second Place. These contestants will now go forward to represent Speakeasy in the North Cork Area Finals in Fermoy on Tuesday, 12th November.
Michael Cronin, Theresa O'Reilly & Pat Sexton. 

In the meantime, Speakeasy Toastmasters will hold their next Meeting in The Hibernian Hotel Mallow on Thursday, 31st October at 8.00PM. Despite the date of Meeting, there is no reason to be afraid.A warm welcome will be extended to members and guests alike. There will be no tricks but plenty of treats in store. We look forward to seeing you there on Halloween Night. 
For more information on this club, please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com or Facebook. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

A night of humour beckons!

Speakeasy Toastmasters Club is hosting it's annual Humorous Speech Contest on Thursday,17th October at 8.00PM. Since the Club's inception, the Humorous Contest has occupied a special place in the Club's calendar, providing members with the opportunity to regale their audience and make them laugh. The contest is not a stand - up comedy routine with a bunch of one-liners strung together.The aim is to present a speech with a clear theme that is humorous in nature.

Over the years, many Speakeasy members have excelled in Humorous Contest at several levels, winning different stages of the event in Ireland and Britain. Last year, Kieran Butler finished in Third Place in The Division B Final. Other members have reached the pinnacle of success in this competition. Matt Lawlee participated in the District 71 ( British and Irish) Final on two occasions, winning in 1995 with his hilarious speech on the fear of flying entitled "The First and Last". This feat was emulated by four time finalist Michael Cronin with his humorous tale about his laptop - "Feel the fear and blow it up anyway" winning top prize in 2008. Other notable successes include Gerry O'Callaghan who competed in the 2003 District Final in Glasgow with his touching eulogy to his pet rat - "Toby".

In conjunction with the Humorous Contest,the Club will also stage the Table Topics Contest. Here, the contestants are challenged to give an impromptu response to a topic with points awarded for content,logic, relevance to the topic and delivery. Over the years, Speakeasy has been represented on twelve occasions at the District Final, with the ultimate prize coming back to Mallow on three occasions. Both the winners and runners up in each contest will go forward to represent Speakeasy in the North Cork Area Final which takesplace in Fermoy in mid November. 

At last week's reschedueled meeting, members were treated to an entertaining array of speeches and topics, overflowing with humour.Susan Hegarty regaled us with "Old Drama". Using the example of "Tracy" inthe TV drama "Emmerdale Farm" spoke about the appeal of television "Soaps". Beginning as afternoon drama in America, soaps evolved as it's target audience - housewives - joined the workforce. As a teenager, the ultimate sanction was a blanket ban on Home and Away, leading to desperate visitations to neighbouring houses to feed their nightly addiction. Various soaps inspired recitations of the Rosary as a shocked mother tried to cleanse her family who had viewed Miley in Glenroe kissing someone he shouldn't!  
Margaret O'Keeffe showed in "Twix and Caramel" that families can grow and progress in a structured fashion that is far removed from the sagas and tribulations of Soap characters, proving that all drama requires some form of conflict. 
Rachel Liston delivered a speech on her own personal journey in Toastmasters. "Carpet Squares" took it's title from a woman in Limerick who looked out at her large garden that needed to be dug up. Getting a leftover piece of carpet, she proceeded on a daily basis to dig up a square equal to size of the carpet until the entire garden was dug. From a reticent beginning, Rachel took the huge leap of faith to join Thomond Toastmasters in Limerick and, square by square, made little but significant improvements as a communicator. Rachel displayed in a straight forward manner how to become a confident communicator - just take the first step and then keep taking the next step. Toastmasters provides the space for everyone who needs to acquire or develop the confidence to speak up or speak out. 
Michael Cronin, Susan Hegarty, Rachel Liston, Bridie O'Connell & Pat Sexton. 

The impromptu section of the meeting, the Table Topics Session was conducted by Ann Nyhan. Topics ranged from the weather as our main topic of conversation to the obnoxious plague of fly tipping and littering. Addictions featured prominently as habits as diverse as vaping and obsession with social media were discussed. Gerry O'Callaghan painted a wonderful picture of coming out of the Cinemas in Mallow and fully smoked up from passively smoking the fog of cigarette smoke that enveloped the theatre. Speakers spoke of the hell of quitting smoking and how the craving never disappears completely. The subject of Noisy Neighbours led to various confessions of youthful exuberance. To great mirth, Don McSweeney recalled his student days in a house in Shandon Street, Cork and how a housemate wrote a letter to the Rector of Shandon Church requesting him to quell the ringing of the Shandon Bells as it interfered with his morning sleep! So far, his simple request hasn't been granted. 

Ann Nyhan, Theresa O'Reilly & Don McSweeney 

Each speech was comprehensively 
evaluated by Bridie O'Connell, Michael Cronin,and Pat Sexton who provided incisive feedback to the speakers, offering commendation and recommendations where appropriate. The art of evaluation is another skill that members develop in Toastmasters, a skill so valuable in our daily interactions at work and in the community.Better speaking, better listening and better thinking are the three vital skills we learn in Toastmasters.At the meeting's conclusion,awards were presented to Don McSweeney--Best Topic; Rachel Liston - Best Speaker and Michael Cronin - Best Evaluator.

And so ended another highly satisfactory and entertaining Speakeasy meeting.More fun will follow at our Humorous Speech night.If you haven't been to Toastmasters or if you would like a good night's entertainment, why not drop along to The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday, October 17th at 8.00PM? Indeed, bring a friend and double the fun. Guests are never obliged to speak, unless they wish to do so.Looking forward to seeing you.

For more information about Toastmasters, please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook.l

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Meeting Rescheduled!

"I hear hurricanes a blowing,
I know the end is coming soon,
I see rivers overflowing."

The words of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" aptly describe last week's dominant news story - Hurricane Lorenzo. And in Cork, the question behind asked is - are weather warnings more disruptive than the weather?

Acting on the Orange Weather Warning, Speakeasy Toastmasters took the responsible decision to postpone last week's Meeting. It was a more a case of "Meeting delayed not Meeting denied" as we host a rescheduled Meeting in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow on Thursday, 10th October at 8.00PM.

Speakeasy Toastmasters is all about our Meetings. Everything that the Club stands for is exemplified by the Club Meeting. Members are given the opportunity to participate in various roles - each one being equally significant. Members can present prepared speeches which are assigned an evaluator who provides the Speaker with appropriate feedback. Other roles include The Toastmaster of the Evening who acts as Chairperson and introduces each speaker. Moreover, the Topics Session is conducted by the Topicsmaster who is the discussion leader. Each Meeting has a Time-Keeper who ensures that speakers cannot ramble on for too long! And, for those members who haven't an assigned role, they can participate in the Topics Session which is the impromptu part of the Meeting. 

Toastmasters works on the principle that we "learn by doing". Nobody ever learns to swim by walking around the swimming pool. At some stage, they need to get into the water. In Toastmasters, members are encouraged to "dip their feet into the water". And communication is a "learned skill" - the more you do it, the better you become and confidence grows. 
Toastmasters' involvement assists members in several areas of communication and leadership. Our members bring the skills that they learn in Toastmasters into the workplace and into various voluntary organisations.
Anne O'Donovan & Liam Flynn

Speakeasy Toastmasters has a very busy schedule over the coming weeks. It begins with Thursday night's Meeting and continues with the Annual Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests. These will take place at the Club Meeting on Thursday, 17th October in The Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 8.00PM. Down the years, these Contests have provided great entertainment for members and guests alike.

Guests are always welcome to attend our meetings. If you curious about Speakeasy or if you wish to take up a beneficial new hobby. If you feel that acquiring good communication skills can help you at work or in those "Special Occasions", why not pay us a visit? Guests are never obliged to speak unless they wish to do so.
To recap - Speakeasy Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests take place on Thursday, 17th October and our Rescheduled Meeting is on the Thursday, 10th October in The Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 8.00PM.
For more information,please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

A Treasure Chest of Memories

"Memories, oh so beautiful and yet,
What's too painful to remember,
We simply choose to forget.
Barbara Streisand.

A treasure chest of cherished memories was burst open during the Topics Session at the last Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting. A simple question from the Topicsmaster, Verna Byrne on childhood memories of Summers long past prompted several recollections of a time when the Summers were always long and warm, children were easily pleased and Telephones hung on walls and weren't considered smart.

Liam Flynn waxed lyrical on Summer days in Wexford with descriptions of Hook Head lighthouse and eating crab meat, which, unlike nowadays, was not considered a valued food. Bobby Buckley recalled a recent stopover in Tipperary and how memories of looking forward to holidays in Thurles and the whole Summer spread out before him. Michael Cronin remembered whiling away the time with "racing twigs down a river", obviously an early prototype of the Duck Race. Far more exciting were the recollections of Gerry O'Callaghan - day trips to Youghal beach and packed lunches where the the word "sandwich" took on an entirely literal meaning and where one child would inevitably go missing.

Childhood ambitions were addressed in the topic - " when I grow up I wish to be". Inspired by the Moon Landings, Don McSweeney dreamed of being an astronaut, which was quite a tall order for someone who disliked cramped and confined spaces! And, for good measure, he wanted to be a cross channel swimmer, which would require the essential first step of learning to swim! Shane O'Donnell wanted to be a man in uniform! Toy soldiers sparked an ambition in Shane to be a soldier, an ambition that receded in teenage years.

"How life would be different when and if we achieved gender equality" elicited a huge response on women and their competency.The example of Joanne Cantwell stepping into a predominantly male preserve like "The Sunday Game" and bringing a skill set that was previously lacking was cited as proof that women can hold their own in all aspect of life.

Topic Sessions enable members to hone their skills of "thinking on their feet" in all sorts of social situations, be it in job interviews, work meetings or in inter-personal communications. Over time, members gain the confidence and the composure to respond to most off the cuff situations and to speak with clarity and coherence on a range of subjects. And, it be good fun, echoing the Toastmasters motto - "We learn most in moments of enjoyment".

To sample the delights of a Topics Session and all other aspects of a Speakeasy meeting, why not pay us a visit at our next meeting on Thursday, 3rd October in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM. Guests are always welcome and are never obliged to speak unless they wish to do so.
For more information, please check out our website,speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook. Alternatively, please contact Club President, Theresa O'Reilly - 087-6699156.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Journeys through the past.

The words of English folk-singer, Sandy Denny - "Who knows where the Time Goes?" - echoed through many of the speeches at last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting. It was a night of quiet reflection when many speakers looked back at their time in Toastmasters and significant events in their lives.
Noel O'Connor, Marie Fitzpatrick, Liam Flynn & Gordon Sharpe-Bolster

Liam Flynn's speech -" Just like starting over" - took us a trip of car boot sales in the quest of interesting trinkets and a love of history which Liam plans to develop further. Liam reflected on his "lucky thirteen " years in Speakeasy. "Being in Toastmasters is like being in a carriage on train. The people in the carriage are your fellow club members and that meeting is a journey", was the analogy that Liam drew. Liam has taken that "richly rewarding" journey and plans to remain in that carriage for another lucky thirteen years.

Noel O'Connor reflected on the many changes he has experienced since his Icebreaker Speech. "My life - Part Two" recalled how Noel visited Speakeasy Toastmasters on the night of it's Inaugural Meeting on the 8th October, 1992.Noel's love of learning spurred him to attend almost every meeting since. This love of learning has informed his farming life with his adopted motto of learning "something new every day". He recalled the year, 1985, when it rained almost every day. The "bad year" had a Silver lining as Noel tied the knot with Kathleen on a rare fine day at the end of August! Noel connected with a significant number of his audience when he spoke of the passing of time through the pictures of the important milestones in his children's lives. But, Noel addressed the future when he committed himself to learning much more in life and in Speakeasy.

Significant events in our children's lives also featured in Marie Fitzpatrick's humourous contribution - "Fairly Average". She looked at her life through the prism of descriptions in dating profiles. She doesn't consider herself as "not highly motivated or good at time keeping!" Fairly average was the description most applicable to her profile. And, most importantly, she is an optimist. Her optimism was tested during the Summer with her daughter's upcoming Debs Ball. Having committed herself to making her daughter's dress, she faced more hurdles and obstacles than the Aintree Grand National. She even overcame her mother's prophecy - "You'll be buying a dress yet". But, the committed optimism of the fairly average managed to deliver a stunning dress for the big occasion.

In stark contrast, Gordon Sharp-Bolster gave us a glimpse of the future and a journey through the forest. "Forestry in Ireland" addressed Ireland's plan to increased afforestation for environmental reasons. He illustrated the madness of current Government policy of focusing on the planting of the environmentally destructive Coniferous trees like Sitka Spruce. Originally imported from Alaska, Sitka Spruce releases the poisonous Potassium Sulphate which destroys the soil and waterways. In Sweden, it is considered an invasive species. At present, financial incentives are loaded in favour of conifers instead of the more luxuriant decidious forests. This current policy is self defeating and short sighted. As Franklin D. Roosevelt warned "A nation that poisons it's soil, destroys itself".

Presenting a speech is one of the many skills that members achieve through involvement in Toastmasters. To enable each member to develop their competence in communication, each member receives an evaluation from an assigned evaluator who presents feedback which is focused on helping the speaker to improve. Helsa Giles, Pat Sexton, Don McSweeney and Bobby Buckley presented appropriate feedback that exemplified the motto - "Evaluate to Motivate". At the meeting's conclusion, awards were presented to Marie Fitzpatrick - Best Speaker and Helsa Giles - Best Evaluation.

Speakeasy Toastmasters will continue it's Meeting Season on Thursday, 3rd of October in The Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 8.00PM. The best time to take up a new hobby or acquire a new skill is now. At a Speakeasy meeting you are assured of a good night's entertainment in a warm and friendly atmosphere and you can observe speakers blossom with confidence. As always, guests are welcome to attend and are never coerced into speaking, unless they wish to do so.
We look forward to seeing you on the 3rd October. 
For more information on this club, please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook. 
Alternatively, please contact Theresa O'Reilly - 087-6699156.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Bobby receives Top Award

Speakeasy Toastmasters member Bobby Buckley has received the Distinguished Toastmaster Award. This is the highest award that a Toastmasters member can receive and is based on accumulating the various communication and leadership awards that form part of the Toastmasters programme. Bobby completed 40 speeches, some educational sessions and leadership roles to accomplish the ultimate prize.

Mallow native, Bobby, recalls giving a speech at his son's wedding in Australia in 2008 and receiving " a rousing reception from the Aussies". He thought that the skill of public speaking would be a worthwhile one to develop and visited the Toastmasters Club in Rathfarnham where lives. Suitably impressed, he joined up and started speaking and speaking ! He gave his Ice-Breaker speech on " the North Cork mindset,it's pragmatism, it's good sense and cunning". He quoted Edmund Burke, educated in a hedge school in Killavullen. Having joined Toastmasters, Bobby became involved in leadership roles and has served as Club Vice President and in 2014 - 2015 was elected President of the Rathfarnham club.

Bobby returned to Mallow in 2015 and delivered a hugely memorable speech - The Man on the Bike - in Speakeasy and was bowled over by the positive reception he received. He then joined the club because " Speakeasy reconciled me with my native town.Here I met people that I aspired to meet in the Sixties when I was an aspiring young athlete and didn't! Here they were all waiting now to welcome me back. I felt I had come home". Bobby also commends the Club for the positive and helpful feedback it gives to speakers. Members of Speakeasy Toastmasters are delighted that Bobby made that homecoming journey and heartily applaud your wonderful achievement on becoming a "Distinguished Toastmaster".

Speakeasy Toastmasters continues it's meeting season on Thursday,19th September in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00 PM. Now is an ideal time to come along and witness a Toastmasters meeting and decide if this is your pastime pursuit for the winter months ahead. Though based in Mallow, we serve the entire North Cork and Duhallow area and draw our membership from a large geographical area. A great night's entertainment is assured and guests are never coerced into speaking unless they wish to do so.
For more information on our Club, please check out speakeasy toastmasters.com or on Facebook. Alternatively, you can contact our President, Theresa O'Reilly on 087-6699156.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Where humour and history rhyme.

Humour and history were the dominant themes at Speakeasy Toastmasters' Opening Meeting. In front of a packed audience,the Toastmaster of the Evening, Liam Flynn, introduced a fascinating and fun filled programme. From the outset, humour was to the fore. Despite all the dark news about Boris and Brexit and Britannia waiving the rules, it seems that laughter is the best medicine.

Michael Cronin kicked off proceedings with his 'autobiographical' speech -"Second Time Around". Coming from the townland of Ballybrack in Doneraile where "all roads lead to" he described himself as an accidental farmer with a herd of "pet cows" who like to have their ears waxed and fronts scratched.And like the boy whose idea of education was to meet the class on the way home from school, Michel learned his farming by "copying his neighbours".He spoke of his love of humour as a means of acquiring an audience's attention and overcoming any risk of "attention deficit disorder"!

Bobby Buckley continued the line of humour with "Outside the Box".He spoke of his experience of trying his hand at acting as a means of getting "outside of himself". But, this was no ordinary play that challenged his thespian skills. He found himself in a post-modern version of Shakespeare's comedy "As you Like it".Bobby became fascinated by the cast of characters playing parts that were completely opposite to their personalities. Yes, it is called " acting" for a reason. As always, pride of place goes to the director. And Gary, " The Director" didn't disappoint.He was the type of flamboyant character who yelled "Showtime" every time he opened his fridge in the morning!

Pat Sexton presented "The Picnic". But, this was no ordinary picnic. This was "The Pan European Picnic" which took place in the village of Sopron on the Hungarian-Austrian Border on the 19th August 1989. This somewhat innocuous event lit the spark that ignited a " people's revolution" that led to the dismantling of The Iron Curtain which divided a Cold War Europe for over four decades. In a little over five months after this event, when citizens of Hungary and Austria opened their Border, Communist rule was overthrown in all of Eastern Europe in a largely peaceful fashion. The iconic image of that incredible time was of the residents of East Berlin tearing down the Berlin Wall which had divided their city for twenty eight oppressive years.
Pat Sexton, Michael Cronin & Bobby Buckley. 

A frequently asked question about Toastmasters is " How do members learn the necessary skills"? They learn by doing and by receiving feedback which is called "Evaluation". The three aforementioned speakers were evaluated by Marie Lynes, Claire O'Connell and Marie Fitzpatrick respectively. Their role is to provide clear and positive feedback to the speakers , highlighting their strengths and pinpointing areas for improvement. By taking on board these suggestions, members continue to grow both in confidence and in skill as communicators. At the meeting's conclusion, awards were presented to Pat Sexton - Best Speaker and Marie Fitzpatrick.
Claire O'Connell, Marie Fitzpatrick & Marie Lynes

The next meeting of Speakeasy Toastmasters takes place on Thursday, 19th September in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00 PM. Guests are always welcome to attend our meetings and are never obliged to speak unless they wish to do so. The Autumn is a wonderful time to take up new interests and worthwhile challenges.Acquiring the skills of good communication will pay handsome dividends for work, for job interviews and for inter-personal communication. Toastmasters Meetings are also entertaining and friendly. We look forward to seeing you at our meetings.
For more information on Toastmasters, please check out our website, speakeasy toastmasters.com or on Facebook. Alternatively, contact our President,Theresa O'Reilly-
087 6699156.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

A new season begins!

Speakeasy Toastmasters begins it's new season of meetings in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday,5th September at 8.00PM.

At a time when many organisations fade away after a 10 year existence, Speakeasy is now in it's 27 year, continuing to achieve it's aims of enabling and empowering our members to communicate with confidence.

In an era when digital media is omnipotent,the need for oral communication skills has never been greater.The value of one on one communication, strong presentation skills and " good old fashioned" public speaking ability are at a premium - at work,at home and in the community.

Speakeasy Toastmasters, through it's communication and leadership programme enables it's members to master all of the necessary skills. January is usually the time for resolutions to change or "improve". September may well be a more appropriate time. The evenings are closing in and many people 's thoughts turn towards Adult Education and personal development classes .You get a three months headstart and you overcome the post Christmas slump.

Many people cite fear when challenged with speaking in public.In Toastmasters we learn by doing, with the assistance and encouragement of fellow club members.We embody the words of the American philosopher,Ralph Waldo Emerson- "Once you do the thing you fear, the death of fear is certain".

Speakeasy Toastmasters meet on a fortnightly basis,from September to June. Members present speeches and fulfill other meeting roles. Guests are always welcome at our meetings and are never coerced to speak, unless they wish to do so. If acquiring improved communication skills are among your goals or if you wish to learn a valuable life-skill. Perhaps, you are curious about our meetings or even looking for a good night's entertainment, why not pay us a visit?

Meetings take place on a forthrightly basis. Our first meeting on the 5th,will be followed by another on September 19th. Future events will include our Annual Humorous Speech and Table Topics Night and the schools Public Speaking Competition.

In the meantime, the room is ready,the speeches are prepared as we wait for the starter's pistol for our first meeting of the Season on Thursday, 5th September.Come along and witness the entertainment.

For more information about our Club, please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook.Alternatively, contact President, Theresa O'Reilly -0876699156.

Monday, August 26, 2019

An invitation

An invitation.
Speakeasy Toastmasters Club invites you to attend our opening meeting of the new season in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday,5th September at 8.00 PM.

It is that time of year again.The nights are closing in, there is an Autumnal feel in the air, the All-Ireland Finals have been lost and won. It is a time that we seek out meaningful pursuits to prise us away from that "box in the corner"and all the ballyhoo about Brexit and Trump.Adult education classes become popular. Speakeasy Toastmasters is adult education and personal development course rolled into one with a lot of entertainment attached.
Committee Members at Officer training 

Like all adult education classes, Speakeasy helps it's members acquire and develop a skill. Our focus is on effective communication.The skill of speaking with confidence is hugely beneficial in work related presentations,in sporting and other voluntary or community organisations and in interpersonal communication.

Members of Toastmasters come from all walks of life and have varying skill levels. Some have prior experience of speaking in front of an audience and wish to develop their skills further, others join as inexperienced beginners and over a period of time become adept at communicating their ideas.The Toastmasters programme is self- paced, members present speeches when they feel they are ready. And assistance is on hand to help members at every step of the way.

Now in our 27th year, Speakeasy draws it's membership from the large hinterland area of North Cork - from "the County bounds" with Kerry to the Tipperary border. Our members hail from Kiskeam to Kildorrery, from Cecilstown to Castletownroche, from Banteer to Buttevant as well as the Mallow area. Our meetings have been described as hotbeds of education, entertainment and "the occasional gush of hot air".

 Our incoming President Theresa O'Reilly describes Speakeasy as "having a hugely positive impact on his life.Over a few short years,I became comfortable about speaking before an audience and give presentations at work. Toastmasters enables us to speak out". Theresa believes that the biggest gift that Toastmasters gives it's members is self-confidence. Youget better all the time.You believe that you can do it.And  help and goodwill you get from other club members is inspiring". Theresa's aim over the coming season is to preside over " enjoyable and rewarding meetings where new members and guests will feel at home".

So,why not let Speakeasy be your night class and forthnighly workout.You are welcome to attend our first meeting in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on the 5th September at 8.00 PM.Guests are always welcome to attend our forthrightly meetings and are never obliged to speak unless they wish to do so.You are guaranteed a night of education, entertainment, humour and refreshments. For further information on Toastmasters and it's benefits, please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com   or on Facebook.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Tom O'Connor

It is the Third Anniversary of the sad passing of Tom O'Connor. 

Tom joined Speakeasy Toastmasters in Autumn 2012. He made a huge impact on those who witnessed his many wonderful speeches. Especially memorable was his tale of the Leaving Cert students walking up Mallow's Main Street with a "coffin"! Social justice and The Holocaust were two subjects that featured frequently in his speeches.

A casual conversation with Tom was always entertaining and fascinating. 

Tom continues to occupy a special place in our memories. 


Sunday, August 18, 2019

New Committee

Speakeasy Toastmasters Committee 2019 - 2020

Back row-Don McSweeney, Membership; Ann Nyhan, Secretary; Claire O'Connell, Hospitality; Marie Fitzpatrick, Treasurer; Pat Sexton, PRO;
Front row-Verna Byrne, Hospitality Theresa O'Reilly, President; Rachel Liston, Education; Susan Hegarty, Hospitality. 

Subject: Speakeasy Toastmasters
The gift of confident communication can be yours.

Can you always say what you really mean? Are you confident about speaking in public?Do you need to speak a few well chosen words on special occasions? If you find that you are apprehensive about speaking before an audience take consolation.You are good company! In various surveys, almost half the people questioned listed speaking in public as their number one fear,outranking even the fear of death.

This is where Speakeasy Toastmasters comes in. We are based in Mallow and serve the North Cork area from Western Duhallow to the Tipperary border. The Club is devoted to assisting our members to overcome their nervousness and to express their thoughts,ideas and opinions through an enjoyable,yet professional educational programme."Learning by doing" is the most effective and satisfying of learning, and this is how Toastmasters works. You will start speaking and just get better and better.

The Toastmasters programme will help you overcome the initial nervousness everyone experiences when speaking before an audience.It will show you how to make "your butterflies fly in formation". The first speech a new member delivers is called "the ice breaker", an opportunity to introduce yourself to your audience.From then on you work at a pace that suits you.You will practice techniques on constructing a speech and grabbing the audience's attention.You will gain valuable experience in vocal variety and the use of body gestures.

To assist each member, the Toastmasters programme includes evaluation.Every speech delivered is evaluated by another member, providing helpful and positive feedback, enabling the speaker to grow in confidence and competence

Thinking "on the spot" is another skill you will acquire in Toastmasters.Each meeting has an impromptu segment known as the"Topics Session" where you respond to topic and give your opinions.Speaking "off the cuff"in this fashion hones your inter-personal communication skills which are essential in job interviews, social,home and workplace situations.

All of this takes place within the format of a meeting which is always varied, educational, entertaining and friendly.The motto of Speakeasy Toastmasters is -"We learn most in moments of enjoyment".Since our establishment in 1993, Speakeasy Toastmasters has assisted hundreds of members to speak out in style and confidence and to acquire valuable leadership skills. If you wish to acquire or improve your communication skills why not pay us a visit? Toastmasters is a low cost any highly rewarding communications and personal development course.

The first meeting of the new Speakeasy Toastmasters season is on Thursday,5th of September in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM sharp.Guests are always welcome to attend and are never cajoled into speaking unless they wish to do so.We look forward to seeing you at this or at any of our forthrightly meetings thereafter.

For further information on Toastmasters, please check out our website, speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook.Alternatively, you can contact President Threesa O'Reilly 087-6699156.

Monday, August 12, 2019

A new President

Speakeasy Toastmasters have elected a new President. Newmarket native, Theresa O'Reilly will serve in that prestigious role for the 2019 - 2020 Season. 
Sean Corcoran & Theresa O'Reilly 

Theresa joined the Bishopstown Toastmasters Club in 2012. "I wanted to learn the necessary skills to organise my thoughts and ideas into interesting speeches. I felt it would help me in my job if I could speak well at work. Toastmasters has given me the confidence to articulate my views in social situations and with work colleagues. I also find that Toastmasters' meetings can be very motivational as members speak about their experiences and interests.The home spun, hard - won wisdom of ordinary people can be so uplifting".

Theresa joined Speakeasy Toastmasters in 2015 and has been active in all facets of Club activities. She has presented a wide range of speeches covering a myriad of topics from Sporting prowess to the importance of sleep to Social Media Addiction. She has also served in positions of leadership within the club. Last year, Theresa served as the Club's Vice president of Education which involves the organising of the programme for each meeting. 

Theresa is looking forward to the year ahead and believes that Toastmasters is for everyone. "There is a common misconception that Toastmasters is for Solicitors, Auctioneers and Sales Reps. That is not true. Speakeasy members come from all walks of life and all age groups. Our members are farmers, teachers, nurses, Public Servants and retirees. We have members from all over North Cork, not just the Mallow area who bring their own points of view to our meetings "

Theresa also thinks that" people believe that Toastmasters is only for really good speakers. That's not true either. When I joined Toastmasters, I was quite anxious about speaking in front of an audience. However, I found that the supportive members helped me to relax and grow in confidence.Every time I spoke, I felt was improving. I have found the Toastmasters experience to be both positive and motivational".

Speakeasy Toastmasters are hosting their first meeting of the season on Thursday, 5th September in The Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 7.45 PM. Guests are always welcome at all meetings and are never obliged to speak, unless they wish to do so. 
For more information on Speakeasy, please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com or Facebook. Alternatively, you can contact President Theresa O'Reilly - 087 6699156.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

It's one word - altruism - that makes a real difference. With a passionately delivered speech, Don McSweeney energised his audience at last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting. Altruism is the self-less concern for the welfare of others. Citing examples as varied as the philanthropist Chuck Feeney and Medicine Sans Frontier, Don showed us how people can make a difference. The care of others has long been a central purpose of religious organisations and Don quoted a wonderful mantra - A tithe of yourtreasury, a tithe of your time and a tithe of your talent to illustrate that each and everyone of us can reach beyond ourselves and make that vital contribution to our community. This speech sees Don achieve the Competent Communicator Award, a wonderful milestone that acknowledges the improvements made by a speaker. 

By contrast, extreme selfishness featured in Bobby Buckley's presentation - Hero or Scallywag? No matter what you achieve, once you post it on Social Media you are derided by the faceless keyboard warriors. You can undertake the Tasmanian Trek in Australia which is hugely challenging, share the photos of your achievements and there are always the begrudgers, who from the comfort of their armchairs will set out to belittle you. In Toastmasters, achievements are applauded and acknowledged, there is never any denigration. 

Clare O'Connell got to the essence of good communication with "The Speech" In a helpful visual presentation, Claire gave helpful pointers on writing and presenting a speech. Focus on what you know, be it personal experience, family or career and be clear and specific about the message you wish to deliver. Mind mapping your ideas is a useful technique to assemble all your ideas. And importantly, rehearse. Speaking in front of a mirror is wonderful way to rehearse, providing you with immediate feedback on how you deliver your message. 

Advice was in plentiful supply in Shane O'Donnell's speech - Fun in the Sun. Sometimes, days of sunshine are so rare that we lose all sense of caution when its rays finally appear. Even worse, the fair skinned Irish are more prone to the effects of the Sun's harmful Ultra Violet rays. Skin Cancer, early ageing and a lower immune system can be the results of our carelessness while sun bathing. Cream up and cover up was the simple advice of Shane's speech and then enjoy the fun in the sun. 

Fatalism was the theme of the final two speeches at the meeting. Margaret O'Keeffe's "Bread and Butter" told the tale of two young people who were destined to be together from their early childhood through to their adult lives. Anne Marie Lehane's "Que Sera Sera" was a speech about acceptance regarding career, love and health. Everything happens for a reason was the take away message of this speech, reinforced by a rousing rendition of the Doris Day's song. 
Bobby Buckley, Claire O'Connell, Margaret O'Keeffe, Anne-Marie Lehane, Don McSweeney & Shane O'Donnell 

As always, there was plenty of advice and positive feedback to each speaker in the evaluation section of the meeting. Brendan Foley, Deirdre Linehan, Rachel Liston, Michael Cronin, Verna Byrne and Marie Lynes provided constructive and thoughtful insights to all the speakers. 
Michael Cronin, Deirdre Linehan, Verna Byrne, Rachel Liston, Marie Lynes & Brendan Foley. 

Anne O'Donovan acted as discussion leader for an engaging and entertaining Topics Session. The elections and modern day campaigning elicited a huge response. To much amusement,Jillian Harris described how a group of American tourists were convinced that "Healy - Rae" was a political party! Given their success in Kerry, they may have been right. A topic that elicited a huge "if only" was "if you could be any age for one week, what age would it be?" The days of endless possibilities were clearly described as post Leaving Cert, when the world stretched out in front of us like a promise. 

At the Meeting's conclusion, awards were presented to Vincent Harris - Best Topic, Marie Lynes - Best Evaluation and Don McSweeney - Best Speaker. However, the real winners at this meeting were all the contributers who made such an enjoyable meeting possible. 

Speakeasy Toastmasters will now take a short break for the Summer. We would like to thank this newspaper for it's continuous support. We also thank all our visitors who enhanced our meetings. 
The next season of meetings will commence on Thursday, 5th September in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 7.45 PM. We look forward to seeing you then. 
For more information on this Club, please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Jerry Mulcahy Award

Claire O'Connell is this year's recipient of The Jerry Mulcahy Award.

Jerry Mulcahy played a significant role in Speakeasy Toastmasters' success story. An ever present at Meetings and always willing to get stuck in to all Club activities, Jerry was serenity, wisdom and gentility personified.He served in variouspositions on Club Committees including President in our Twentieth Anniversary Year of 2013.

In memory of his enormous contribution, Speakeasy initiated The Jerry Mulcahy Award in 2016 to honour Club members for exemplary contributions. Previous recipients of the Award include Sean Corcoran, Michael Cronin and Ray Ryan.

We extend our heartiest congratulations to Claire on her achievement. 
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A Wonderful Year reviewed.

Sean Corcoran presided over last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters AGM and reviewed another eventful year for the Club. It was a year with many highlights, meaningful meetings and community involvement.

It was also the year of awards. In December, Deirdre Linehan received an Award at the Cork County Council Mayor's Reception. This Award was in recognition of Deirdre's achievement of competing at the World Finals of Public Speaking in Chicago.
In March, Speakeasy Toastmasters received a Club Achievement Award at the Mallow and District Sports and Leisure Council Gala Banquet. This was in recognition of Speakeasy's continued contribution within the community over the past twenty-five years.

In November, the Club held it's Annual Schools Public Speaking Competition. The winning speaker was Grace O'Brien of Scoil Mhuire, Kanturk who presented a powerful presentation on the dangers of sugar - "Alcahol to a child". The Best School Award went to Nagle Rice College, represented by Sharon Campbell and Conrad Werner.

Another memorable highlight was the Club's Annual Theme Night which focused on the magic of books. Eight speakers interpreted the works of famous Irish writers like Brendan Behan, Frank O'Connor, Maeve Binchy and Joseph O'Connor. The evening also featured tributes to former members, Máire Welford and John Dillon. 

On alternate Thursday Nights, Speakeasy held it's usual meetings, where members, both new and experienced, acquired and developed their communication skills. "Learning by doing" is the approach used in Toastmasters. Over the past year, a very high standard of meetings ensured that members learned most in moments of enjoyment. The speeches were many and varied, the evaluations motivational and supportive and the Topics Sessions entertaining and insightful. 
Speech evaluators Claire O'Connell, Don McSweeney & Marie Fitzpatrick. 

As always, Club members participated in the various competitions and enjoyed a fair degree of success. In the Humorous Speech Contest, Kieran Butler and Claire O'Connell reached the Division B Final (Munster) with Kieran achieving a Third Placefinish. In the International Speech Contest Pat Sexton and Brendan Foley were among the Contestants who reached the Division Final. Sean Corcoran and Pat Sexton participated in the Division B Final of the Speech Evaluation Contest, with Pat going forward to compete in the Irish and British Final in Norwich. In the Table Topics Contest, Ray Ryan and Pat Sexton were successful in reaching the Division Final. Ultimately, Pat Sexton reached the District Final and was placed in Second Place. 

Speakeasy were enthusiastic participants in Kanturk Arts Festival in March. Liam Flynn, Bobby Buckley and Gerry O'Callaghan regaled a full house at O'Callaghans Showroom. At the Drama Night in The Edel Quinn Hall, Sean Corcoran and Kieran Buckleywere part of a strong and varied programme. 

The following officers were elected for the coming year - President - Theresa O'Reilly ; Education Officer - Rachel Liston ; Membership Officer - Don McSweeney ; PRO - Pat Sexton; Secretary - Ann Nyhan ; Treasurer - Máire Fitzpatrick ; Hospitality Officers - Claire O'Connell, Susan Hegarty and Verna Byrne. 

The next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting takes place on Thursday, 30th May in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 8.00PM. Guests are always welcome to attend and are never required to speak unless they wish to do so. A great night's entertainment is assured. 
For more information, please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Style is eternal.

"Fashion fades but style is eternal", this was the core message delivered by Maria Connolly at last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting. Her fascinating speech - "Style" provided a thorough guide on how to "dress to impress". She dealt with the hugely entertaining issue of body shapes,be it the"inverted triangle",the "pear shape" or the "hour-glass". Even Kim Karadashian got a mention with her "large hour-glass figure! Ultimately, the best advice she proffered to her audience was" be yourself".

Advice was readily given by Susan Hegarty in her humorous tale of holiday stress. "Don't sweat the small stuff" was the usual story of pre-holiday rush - emptying the fridge of everything yet going on a diet before the holiday splurge on junk food. Packing enough clothes for a six month stay in America is also part of that pre-holiday stress! And then Susan discovers the book by Richard Karl's on that gives the speech it's title. The book proves to be a treasure trove of wisdom that eases the stress. Pick your battles wisely - you don't have to be right all the time. And Smile! It releases happy hormones and it's free.

Rachel Liston delivered an utterly absorbing speech - "Caught in a flash". We have all experienced the disappointment of having photographs sullied by "Red Eye". It is usually the combination of dim light and the enlarging of the pupils of the eyes. But Rachel told us the tale of how the presence of "Red Eye" denotes good health and how it's absence led to the early diagnosis of a rare form of eye cancer in a young child. While one eye was lost, the spread of cancer was prevented. Losing an eyedoesn't mean mean you lose your vision. Moreover, people adjust to the inconveniences. So "Red Eye" is a sign of optical good health and not just a photo ruined. 
Speakers:Susan Hegarty, Rachel Liston & Maria Connolly. 

Three informative and entertaining speeches were greeted with three insightful and helpful evaluations from Don McSweeney, Claire O'Connell and Maire Fitzpatrick respectively. Each evaluation focused on the strengths of the presentation and highlighted areas where the speaker could improve. In Speakeasy, this is called "the sandwich method" of commend, recommend and commend. 

The impromptu section of the meeting - the Topics Session - was conducted by Verna Byrne. A diverse range of topics covered subjects like the protests that will inevitably greet a Trump visit to Ireland, which sport arouses most fear and how each day is a learning experience. The skills acquired by engaging in a Topics Session are of benefit everyday, be it at work, in social situations and in general conversations. 

At the Meeting's conclusion, awards were presented to Susan Hegarty - Best Speaker, To Best Evaluator - Don McSweeney and to Best Topics - Theresa O'Reilly. 

The next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting will take place in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow on Thursday, 30th May at 8.00PM. As always, guests are welcome to attend and observe the fun and the learning. Visitors are never coerced into speaking unless they wish to do so. For more details, please check out the website speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

A global village.

"No man is an island", the poet John Donne wrote. And neither are Toastmasters Clubs and their members. This was very much in evidence at the District 71 Irish and British Conference which took place in Norwich last weekend. Toastmasters members from all over England and Ireland mixed and mingled in an exhilarating and intoxicating weekend of Competition, workshops, keynote speakers and fun. It was a global village for Toastmasters. It was a weekend when old friendships were renewed and new ones weremade.

It was a weekend that was crammed with 8 Semi finals and 4 Finals spread across three memorable days and Speakeasy were at the heart of it. In the District Final of the Humorous Speech Competition, Dermot Carey of Dublin emerged victorious with a hugely enjoyable speech - "PBC". It wasn't about a certain Secondary School in Cork but was a hilarious commentary on the boring, grey and dull world of accountants, auditors and actuaries,delivered by an accountant. Among the other participants in this Final was Laura Mehigan of Douglas Toastmasters with her wonderfully entertaining speech on the terror of snoring - "My New Product". Laura presented a top class presentation but finished outside the top 3 placings.

In the International Speech Contest Final, Philip Khan - Pani of Society Toastmasters in Dublin took First Prize with his uplifting speech - "Forever Second?"This is Philip's fourth time to achieve the top prize in this competition and previouslyfinished second in the World Championship Final in 1995. Second place was taken by Gerry Dunn of Glasgow Toastmasters with a thoughtful and hilarious account of his teaching days in a tough neighbourhood.

Speakeasy Toastmasters were represented in two Contests by Pat Sexton. In the Speech Evaluation Contest, Pat battled his way through the Semi Final on Friday to take his place in the District Final on Sunday where he attempted to retain the prize he won at last year's Cork Conference. On this occasion victory eluded him as the main prize went to Simon May of Leeds City Toastmasters, with Vinette Hoffman Jackson of Bedford Speakers in runner - up place. Among the other contestants in this competitionwas Margaret O'Flynn of the Talking Heads Toastmasters in Garryvoe.

In the Table Topics Contest, Pat emerged as a Semi Final winner with his unconventional answer to the question - "What is your favourite food and why?"
In the District Final, without any preparation, participants had to answer - "In a movie about your life, which actor would play the lead role and would it be a comedy, love story, tragedy or thriller?" In an exciting and hilarious verbal joust,Pat was narrowly beaten at the post into Second Place by Vinette Hoffman Jackson of Bedford Speakers. This is the sixth occasion that Pat has achieved second place in this competition, as well as winning it on three other occasions.

All journeys in Toastmasters begin at the Club and Speakeasy will hold their next Club Meeting on Thursday, 16th May in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 8.00PM. 
Even though the evenings are lengthening, it is still a great time to sample the Toastmasters experience. Now is a time to plan ahead and think about worthy pursuits and goals for next Autumn. Acquiring the skills of good communication is relevant in all four seasons. Competition season is well and truly over for now and it's back to normal meetings. So come along and pay us a visit. Guests are always welcome and are never cajoled into speaking unless they wish to do so.
For more information on this Club, please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

The Magic of the written word

"It's only words and words are all I have", the Bee Gees once sang. But words can be powerful, they can uplift or undermine. Words are the key to unlocking the magic of the iminagation. Words are the weapons of the writer as they pour their creativity onto the page.

At last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters Theme Meeting - Literary Speaking - various Club members took up the challenge of interpreting the writings of well known writers and bringing them to life. There was humour aplenty - Michael Cronin's interpretation of Joseph O'Connor's "The Birds and the Bees" poked fun at the desperately seeking love and Sean Corcoran's rendition of John B Keane's "The Letter" told the hapless tale of a matchmaker's attempt to provide loving relationships for the really desperate Self deprecating humour was beautifully woven into the language of Maeve Binchy's "Happy Hypochondria". Bridie O'Connell captured that feeling of "white coat fever" that many of us feel when visiting a doctor's or a dentist's surgery. If we are feeling unwell beforehand, that feeling is often doubled by the time we leave. 

Nostalgia abounded. Some stories reminded listeners of the Inter-cert English Course. Loretto Barry captured the "Corkness" of Frank O'Connor's "My First Confession" and Deirdre Linehan gave a dramatic presentation of Brendan Behan's "The Confirmation Suit". Both captured the essence of great Irish writing - a troubled childhood and Catholicism.

Noel O'Connor did a moving homage to a former member, Máire Welford. Her short story "Off the Scrapheap" told the fake of an unemployed mechanic regaining his self esteem. The late John Dillon of Kanturk was fondly remembered in Anne Buckley'srendition of the mysterious "The Murhur Reel", which painted a wonderful picture of life in rural Kerry in the 1940s.

No evening of readings would be compete without a helping of horror. Bobby Buckley duly obliged with the scary story of "Beowulf - Dragonslayer" from Rosemary Sutcliff. This was a tale that could have inspired "Game of Thrones" and frightened children of all ages. And so concluded "Literary Speaking", another night that will go down in the annals of great Speakeasy nights. 
Back row: Liam Flynn, Bobby Buckley, Sean Corcoran, Noel O'Connor, Michael Cronin & Pat Sexton.
Front Row:Anne Buckley, Loretto Barry, Bridie O'Connell & Deirdre Linehan. 

In other news, the District 71 (Ireland and Britain) Conference takes place in Norwich this coming weekend. Speakeasy will be represented in the Table Topics and Evaluation Contests by Pat Sexton. It promises to be an eventful weekend. 

The next meeting of Speakeasy Toastmasters will take place on Thursday, 16th May in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 8.00PM. As always, guests are welcome and are never compelled to speak, unless they wish to do so. 
For more information, please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook.