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. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

A meeting to savour.

Speakeasy Toastmasters are hosting their Annual Theme Night - "Literary Speaking" - on this Thursday, 2nd May in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 7.45 PM for an 8.00PM start. 

The midnight oil has been burned and the speakers are ready. The programme will feature interpretative readings from experienced performers like Michael Cronin, Bridie O'Connell, Loretto Barry, Sean Corcoran, Deirdre Linehan and Bobby Buckley. Each speaker will bring life and meaning to the works of popular Irish writers. Former members Máire Welford and John Dillon will be fondly remembered as Noel O'Connor and Anne Buckley will interpret their writings. It promises to be a night to savour. 

Equally savoury was the fare on display at the last meeting. Taking place on Spy Wednesday, it featured an extraordinary range of speeches that covered topics like doomed love, debauchery, donkey derbies and sleep deprivation. 

Rachel Liston described her curiousity about the blue and white pattern on her aunt's cutlery. She evoked an era when The Willow Pattern was proudly on display in Irish dining rooms but rarely used. "The Willow Legend" told the Chinse tale of the "star-crossed lovers" whose romance was sadly doomed. 

Marriage featured prominently in Michael Cronin's "A life fully lived". Michael introduced his audience to the eventful and outrageous life of Elizabeth Rosanna Gilbert. Born in Sligo in 1821,Lisa lived a life, that by modern day standards wouldseem unconventional, but by the standards of her time, were truly extraordinary and debauched. Blazing a trail across four continents, Lisa was a master (or was it mistress? ) of seduction and scandalous affairs with writers, composers and, most infamously,Ludwig 1 of Bavaria. She was well honed in the art of reinvention and rebranded herself as "Lola Montez" whose erotic and revealing "Spider Dance" led to outrage. In short, she lived a life that would make Madonna seem like a nun in an enclosed order. 

Liam Flynn challenged us with his presentation - "Don't be apathetic about apnia". Sleep apnia is a problem that impacts on a sizeable number of Irish people. Simply put, those impacted by it stop breathing while asleep. This causes the heartto produce adrenaline, causing the sleeper to wake up. This can happen several times during the night and leaves the sufferer without proper sleep and unable to function normally. Thankfully, once diagnosed, the condition is treatable with an air pump and face mask which is a small price to pay for curing a serious disorder. 
Liam Flynn, Rachel Liston, Jane Sheehan & Michael Cronin 

Jane Sheehan of Killarney Toastmasters delivered a powerful speech on our unwillingness to listen. "Headphones" addressed our inability to listen with empathy and without prejudice and how non listeners will derail an interaction to impose their own point of view. Jane recalled her childhood joy at winning a donkey derby and how her joy was multiplied in telling her family. She quoted the words of Maya Angeliou - 'People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did. But people will always remember how you made them feel ". Jane will represent Division B (North Munster) in Irish and Britain Finals I Norwich in May. The Club wishes her the best of good fortune. 
Sean Corcoran, Jane Sheehan & Pat Sexton. 

The Topic Session, ably conducted by Deirdre Linehan, covered a broad range of subjects from the Easter Bunny to bravery, Tiger Woods to umbrellas and from retirement to the joy of making music. Best qoute of the night was "Having spent your life avoiding temptation, you begin to find temptation starts avoiding you". The Best Topic was awarded to Sean Corcoran, with Best Speaker going to Jane Sheehan and Marie Lynes winning Best Evaluation. 

Speakeasy Toastmasters look forward to seeing you at our Theme Night "Literary Speaking" in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 7.45 PM on this Thursday night 
For more information about the club, please check out the website speakeasy toastmasters.com or on Facebook. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

"Literary Speaking"

Among our many wonderful traits as as a people, the Irish are renowned for their story telling. Little wonder then that we continue to punch above our weight at various literary awards like the Booker Prize, the Whitbread Prize and the Impac Award.A love of literature is part of what we are. 

With this in mind, Speakeasy Toastmasters Club are delighted to announce that their next meeting will be their "Theme Night". This year, the theme is books or to be more precise, the stories that lie within. "Literary Speaking" will be a night where the magic of the written word will be brought to life through the interpretive readings by various members. Well known Irish writers will have their words lifted from the pages of books and given vibrancy and meaning. 

Michael Cronin will tackle the musings of the ever humorous Joseph O'Connor while the ever popular Maeve Binchy will be interpreted by Bridie O'Connell. Bobby Buckley will present a dramatic reading of"Beuwolf" which will delight "children of all ages" . Also scheduled is Sean Corcoran's rendition of "The Letter", which covers the trials and tribulations of finding romance or even companionship in the pre-Tinder era and is based on the writings of John B Keane.

 Former member, the late John Dillon of Kanturk will be remembered by Anne Buckley's interpretation of "The Murhur Reel", a short story he published in 2015.

The Club is delighted to welcome back a former member, Loretto Barry who will take us back to our secondary school days with her masterful rendition of the Frank O'Connor classic "The First Confession". 

In all, it promises to be a wonderful night for lovers of books and for anyone seeking a good night's entertainment. We look forward to witnessing the words "jumping off the page". It will be a night that won't just provide food for thought,it promises to be a "gourmet menu" of Michelan Star quality 
The Club extends an invite to the community to come along to this exciting event. It take place in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday 2nd May at 8.00PM sharp. 
For more information on this event or on Speakeasy Toastmasters, please check out our websitespeakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Does fear hold you back?

During the Table Topics Session at last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting, Topicsmaster Maria Connolly posed a fascinating question - "How does fear hold you back"? Over a number of responses, it seems that other people's opinions of us creates the greatest fear. Perhaps, we crave other people's approval for the choices we make, even down to the clothes we wear. Fear of confined spaces figured prominently as did a fear of excess. "To hell with moderation and this life balance," one speakerproclaimed. "Burn your candle at both ends and apply a blowtorch to the middle. Moderation is the last refuge of the unimaginative".

Claire O'Connell and Valerie Murphy dealt with the topic of "reducing stress". Valerie suggests that we walk, talk and sing while Finnish Metal Music does the trick for Claire! To each their own form of musical therapy, be it Monty Phyton's "Bright side of life" or the narcissist's anthem "It's hard to be humble" or even Finnish Metal Music.

"Your favourite piece of technology" elicited responses from the functional to the esoteric. The milking machine and other wonderful labour saving devices that have transformed agriculture was a popular choice. Yet the humble "wireless" or the radio evoked memories of a time when the spoken word was transmitted without vision. The unexpected joy of rediscovering a favourite song which is played unannounced was described as one of radio's finest gifts. Our over-dependence on technology was vividly brought to life by a member's recollection of losing his car key while strolling on a beach. Yes, technology can enslave us as well as enabling us.

But, the "hot potato" topic of the night dealt with the "touchy" subject of Joe Biden and how appropriate it is to give a hug or a kiss. Tim Aherne deftly manoeuvred his way around this contentious issue without digging a hole for himself. For dancing on the head of a pin, he was awarded the ribbon for Best Topic. However, every contributor to this lively session was a winner. The art of impromptu speaking is a hugely useful skill to develop, benefitting the speaker in many aspects of life - from social situations to job interviews and work presentations. Moreover, it allows members to assess all aspects of a given subject and to respect opposing points of view. Mark Twain once boasted that he took two weeks to prepare his "impromptu" speech. In Toastmasters we make it up as we go along.
Evaluators Vincent Harris, Rachel Liston, Noel O'Connor & Michael Cronin 

This week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting takes place on Wednesday night, which is prior to Thursday's newspaper publication. Nevertheless, plans are being laid forthe Speakeasy meeting that will be held on Thursday, 2nd May. It is our specialTheme Night - "Literary Speaking" where club members will interpret the magic of books, lifting the words off the page and bringing them to life. Full details will be announced next week. It promises to be another in a long line of fascinating Speakeasy ThemeNights. As always, guests are welcome to attend. For more information, please check out our website,speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

The spice of life.

Each Toastmasters meeting is a journey, or to more precise, a number of journeys as members of the audience get the opportunity to walk a mile in someone else's shoes when speakers share their stories, opinions and interests. 
Maria Connolly, Sean Corcoran & Michael Donegan. 

At last week's meeting, the audience were treated with two Icebreakers from new members. Shane O'Donnell presented "My Journey". Shane spoke of his journey from Mitchelstown to Mallow on alternate Thursday nights to Speakeasy to overcome his anxieties about speaking before an audience. He spoke of his life's journey, focusing on his career choices. Admitting that his reasons for choosing teaching were the short hours and the months of June, July and August, he realised that while the hours were good, teaching was not for him. "Choose a career that you like" was his candid advice. He spoke of other challenges too, not least his support of Leeds United!

Claire O'Connell brought us on a different journey. Fulfilling the role of TV interviewer, she chose Theresa O'Reilly as her interviewee. Claire's questions focused on Theresa's interest in horse riding. Theresa provided a fascinating insight into the work required in the horse industry, the training, the riding and the mucking out. Indeed, learning to ride a horse has it's lessons for life - "when you're thrown off a horse, you get back on the saddle straight away". Claire's interview elicited some fascinating facts on horse racing including the average pace of a racing horse - 48.2km.

Anne Marie Linehan presented her Icebreaker speech - "The benefit of exercise and activity for the older adult". She spoke of the challenges associated with old age when social interaction diminishes. She stressed the importance of promoting physical activities for the aged and it's cardiovascular benefits. She highlighted the need for social interaction and "fun" as a way to improve the phycological well being of the elderly.

In the final speech of the evening, Verna Byrne enlightened her audience with a look at "Superstitions, past and present".Why are we afraid to " walk under ladders"? It's an old Egyptian superstition where a ladder against a wall created a triangle that dissects the Gods. In Turkey, the chewing of gum after dark is likened to chewing rotted flesh. The tradition of saying "bless you"when someone sneezes goes back to the time of Pope Gregory in the sixth century as an incantation against plague. Sometimes, rituals can be confused with superstition. The tennis star, Rafa Nadal observes a very strict routine before and during matches in the way he places his water bottles. Perhaps, superstition should be treated with "a pinch of salt". In which case, it do we throw it over our shoulders?
Shane O'Donnell, Verna Byrne, Claire O'Connell & Anne Marie Linehan

Each speaker was subjected to a thorough evaluation from the team of evaluators. "Commend, recommend and commend" was the strategy applied by Noel O'Connor, Rachel Liston, Vincent Harris and Michael Cronin. At the meeting's conclusion, the GeneralEvaluator, Don McSweeney presented the Best Speaker Award to Shane O'Donnell and Best Evaluation to Rachel Liston.

The Division B Finals of the Speech and Evaluation Contests took place at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Limerick recently. Speakeasy was ably represented by Sean Corcoran, Brendan Foley and Pat Sexton. Ultimate victory went elsewhere on the day with Jane Sheehan, Killarney and Helen Dagnall, West Limerick emerging as the Speech and Evaluation Contests winners. Pat Sexton was placed second in the Evaluation Contest. The Club wishes both Jane and Helen every success in the District Finals in Norwich in May.

The next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting will take place on Wednesday, 17th April in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM. Please note the change of night which is due to Easter Week. As always, guests are welcome to attend. Why not take thisopportunity to check out the club. Guests are never coerced to speak but are welcome to do so. Looking forward to seeing you on Wednesday, 17th. 
For more information about our Club, please check out our website,speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook. 

Monday, April 01, 2019

"Literary Speaking"

Speakeasy Toastmasters Club will hold "a theme night" on Thursday, 2nd May in the Hibernian Hotel at 8.00PM. "Literary Speaking" will be a night where the magic of the written word will be brought to life through the interpretive readings byvarious members. Well known Irish writers will have their words lifted from the pages of books and given meaning. Extracts from writers like Maeve Binchy, Myles NaGcopoleen and Joseph O'Connor will feature. Bobby Buckley will present "Beuwolf". Also scheduled is Sean Corcoran's rendition of "The Letter", based on the writings of John B Keane. Former member, the late John Dillon will be remembered by Anne Buckley's interpretation of one of his short stories.

In all, it promises to be a wonderful night for lovers of books and for anyone seeking entertainment. The Club extends an invite to the community to come along to this exciting event. 

Developing the skills of effectively delivering a speech or interpreting the words of others is just one of the many benefits of Toastmasters membership. Another skill that members acquire is the art of impromptu speaking or "speaking off the cuff". This assists members to hone their interpersonal communication skills - so essential in work situations and interviews. At the last Speakeasy meeting, Vincent Harris conducted the "Topics Session". Among the many topics discussed by members was our annual Feast Day "St. Patrick's Day" where "Leo met Conor" in America. Deirdre Linehan made an insightful contribution on the vexed question of "transgender in sports-is it a level playing field?" The question of whether Katie Taylor is "Ireland's GreatestSportswoman"elicited a big response. Given the "blood and bandage" nature of County Cork, much mention of our wonderful Camogie and Ladies Football Teams and notable stars like Rena Buckley and Breege Corkery were nominated. On a seasonal note, the subject of "the Dawn Chorus" brought a beautiful response from Jillian Harris and the chatter of birdsong in her garden.This contribution was deemed to be the Best Topic Contribution. 
Speech Evaluators Pat Sexton, Verna Byrne, Claire O'Connell, Bridie O'Connell & Bobby Buckley. 

The next Speakeasy Meeting will take place on Thursday, 4th April in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM. At this meeting, it will be "business as usual" with Speeches, Evaluation and Topics Session. It promises to be a great night of entertainment and wordsmithery which will include an Ice-breaker Speech. As always, guests are welcome to attend and are never required to speak unless they wish to do so. The Club looks forward to seeing you on Thursday night. 
For more information, please check out our website, speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook. 

Monday, March 25, 2019

Goldilocks Porridge

Goldilocks' Porridge.

Ireland has been called many things - the "Island of Saints and Scholars" or a "Nation of Begrudgers" are two that spring to mind. However, at last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting, Don McSweeney likened Ireland to Goldilocks' Porridge - not too hot, not too salty, just right. His speech - "Home Sweet Home" was a celebration of everything positive that Ireland has to offer. We have geologically sound earth beneath our feet and are never prone to earthquakes and volcanoes. Our climate is temperate, lacking the extremes of weather that blight other countries. Likewise, our politics is moderate and lacking the idiocy that is evident elsewhere. As a people, we are cultured, welcoming, humorous and generous. All things considered, Ireland is "just right".

By contrast, Valerie Murphy lauded the Republic of Slovakia. Her speech - "My special Slovak Holiday" recalled her experiences in that beautiful country while holidaying there. Prior to 1993,Slovakia was joined together in one State with the Czech Republic in the country known as Czechoslovakia.It was under the yoke of Communism until the momentous events of 1989 which saw the Iron Curtain torn apart. It is a land of welcomes on the banks of the River Danube. It is a place of breathtaking Medieval Castles, best encapsulated by it's capital city of Bratislava.

Deirdre Linehan reflected on her life through the prism of Sport with her presentation - "This Sporting Life". On growing older, she realises that for many of her loved ones, their game is over - they have reached "full time". She still views herself as a participant in life - not a spectator or a referee. She keeps going through her life with the attitude of the golfer, Gary Player as her motto - "The more I practice, the luckier I get".

Mark Twain once remarked that "Man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to". Susan Hegarty's speech - "Beetroot" focused on her embarrassing tendency to blush far too easily. Susan goes red" when she is angry or happy, when she doesn't like the truth or suspects that someone is untruthful. The Science of Blushing defines it as a voluntary process that those afflicted have no control over. But Susan is not alone in pulsating like a beetroot. Simon Cowell and the singer, Pink, suffer from over frequent bouts of blushing. But blushing can be camouflaged by make-up but that leaves the wearer looking like "Shrek"! 

Philip O'Riordan delivered his Ice-breaker, simply called "The Wedding Speech". He confessed to getting married on the day after the Brexit deadline! Hopefully, he will not require a backstop!" Following his engagement, he realised that hewould have to "give a speech". And then he resolved to join Toastmasters to learn the basics of public speaking. Philip's story is like many others who need to speak for a specific reason. Participation in the Toastmasters programme has helped thousands of people to overcome their nervousness and anxiety about speaking in front of an audience. Members of Speakeasy were privelaged to hear Philip's rehearsal of his "Wedding Speech" and we wish him well on his "Big Day". 
Deirdre Linehan, Don McSweeney, Philip O'Riordan, Valerie Murphy & Susan Hegarty. 

All the speeches delivered were given thoughtful and incisive evaluations from their chosen evaluator. Evaluations were provided by Claire O'Connell, Pat Sexton, Bobby Buckley, Bridie O'Connell and Verna Byrne who were cognisant of our evaluationethos - "Evaluate to motivate". At the meetings conclusion, awards were presented to Don McSweeney - Best Speaker and Verna Byrne - Best Evaluation. 

In other news, the Division B (North Munster) Speech and Evaluation Contests will take place in the Radisson Blu Hotel, Ennis Road, Limerick on Sunday 31st March at 1.30pm. Speakeasy will be represented by Sean Corcoran, Pat Sexton and Brendan Foley. It promises to be a wonderful evening of entertainment and everyone is welcome. 

The next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting will take place on Thursday, 4th April in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM. As always, guests are welcome to attend and will not be cajoled into speaking unless they wish to do so. 
For more information about our club, please check out our website, speakeasy toastmasters.com or on Facebook. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

A weekend to savour.

A weekend to savour.

Speakeasy Toastmasters were privelaged to be among the many participants at this year's Kanturk Arts Festival. On Friday night, three Club members performed at the Festival's Opening Night at O'Callaghans Showroom. Gerry O'Callaghan regaled his audience, both young and old, with his hilarious recollection of his "First Date".
Gerry O'Callaghan. 

Liam Flynn gave a reading of two famous Sea Poems - "The Inchcape Rock" and "The Wreck of the Hesperus". Bobby Buckley rounded off the Speakeasy contributions with his sublime tale of subservience - "Yes Man".
                       Liam Flynn
                   Bobby Buckley 

It was a night of the spoken word, the written word and, some might suggest the painted word. And, it was beautifully interwoven with the wonderful acapella sounds of the vocal group, "Various Voices". By contrast, Saturday night was dedicated to dramatic presentations. Taking the stage in The Edel Quinn Hall, Sean Corcoran displayed his matchmaking skills with an interpretation of John B Keane's "The Letter".
Sean Corcoran 

Former Club President Kieran Buckley gave an emotional, poignant and powerful rendition of his World War 1 Monodrama - "Lions led by donkeys".
Kieran Buckley 

 Former member, Vivien Buckley was on hand to deliver her humorous tale of parachute misadventure - The Jump".

Kanturk Arts Festival has now established itself as a vibrant event, enhancing the cultural life of North Cork. We congratulate the organisers for their success with this venture and look forward to working with the Festival in the future.

Speakeasy Toastmasters will return to it's normal speaking routine at our next meeting on Thursday, 21st March in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00 PM. Having devoted the last two meetings to Contests, Thursday night will be an opportunity to witness a standard meeting, with the emphasis on speeches, evaluations and table topics. Even though the Club is located in Mallow, it draws it's membership from all over the North Cork area. We have attracted members from Rathpeacon to Rockchapel, andfrom Kiskeam to Kildorrery. Our aim is to serve the North Cork regions of Avondhu and Duhallow and beyond. 

If you feel that you need to acquire or hone the skills of good communication or if would like a night of good entertainment, why not join us on Thursday night?Any time is a good time to learn a new skill, be it Spring or Autumn. You will be guaranteed a night of reflection and musings, coupled with sound advice on speaking well, and a dose of humour thrown in - for good measure! You will get all this and a cup of tea as well. As always, guests are welcome to attend and are under no obligationto speak - unless they wish to do so.
For more information about our Club, please check out our website, speakeasy toastmasters.com or on Facebook.
Looking forward to seeing you on Thursday Night. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

A victorious week

A victorious week for Speakeasy.

The Area 17 Finals ( North Cork) of the Speech and Evaluation Contests took place at last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting. 

Over the course of two hours, a wonderful range of ideas and speaking styles was on display. The chosen subjects were serious in nature but humour abounded. Gerry Hennessy of Fermoy Toastmasters spoke on the many joys of music. "If music is the food of love" chronicled the important role that eight musical notes have on our lives. For some,it might be "the clinger" at the local ballroom to more sombre notes of a classical composer. Musical tastes can range from the discordant notes of "Guns and Roses" to soft romantic sounds. "Would you like some Marvin Gaye"? Whatever, you are having yourself, remember the words of Shakespeare and "play on".

In stark contrast, Brendan Foley exhorted his audience that "It's the journey, not the destination". Setting goals and working towards achieving them is an important ingredient of success. However, there is a danger that obsession with "Goals" can enslave rather than enable the individual. Brendan recalled running a road race on a beautiful, scenic route with his head down. Such was his focus in reaching the finishing line, he was he oblivious to the natural beauty that coloured his route. Steppingback a little and enjoying the journey is more beneficial to our well being than obsessing on the destination.

"Things aren't always what they first appear" was the hugely enjoyable contribution of Frank O'Driscoll of Fermoy. Delegated the task of concluding the sale of his son's car, Frank found himself in a very uncomfortable position when a group of Eastern Europeans turned up on a Sunday morning to test drive the car, prior to purchasing it. He found himself facing up his prejudices. Ultimately, to his immense relief, such concerns proved to be unfounded and a deal was done. His speech was a salutary lesson on the dangers of judging a book by it's cover.

Pat Sexton's "On the Ropes" took us back in time to the legendary "Rumble in the Jungle" World Heavyweight Boxing Title fight in 1974. This was an era when Ali and Foreman were Kings of the ring. The speech focused on the lessons we can draw from this incredible story and how the qualities displayed by both boxers can inform our own life's challenges.
Sean Corcoran, Rachel Liston, Pat Sexton & Frank O'Driscoll. 

In the Speech Evaluation Contest, the Keynote Speech was delivered by Mohammed Omar of the Clonmel Club. Simply titled - "An apple a day", this presentation dealt with how small changes to our lifestyle can make the biggest difference. It is now medically proven that the consumption of one apple each day reduces the risk of stroke. Likewise, a new language can be mastered in a year by learning a mere three words every day. Life is not just about big changes. Small changes can make the difference. The competing Evaluators, Sean Corcoran, Pat Sexton, Frank O'Driscoll and Johanna Hegarty were required to present a critique of this speech. There is an impromptu aspect to this Contest as Competitors have 5 minutes to prepare their notes and do not hear the Competitors who have spoken previously.

Following the adjudication, Speakeasy's Pat Sexton emerged victorious in the Speech and Evaluation Contests. Frank O'Driscoll of Fermoy finished second in the Speech Contest while Sean Corcoran of Speakeasy was runner-up in the Evaluation Contest. Sean, Frank and Pat will go forward to the Division B Finals which take place in the Radisson Hotel, Limerick on Sunday, 31st March at 1.00PM. This event will bring together participants from Claire, Kerry, Limerick, North Tipperary and North Cork. A wonderful afternoon of entertainment is assured.

The Mallow and District Sports and Leisure Awards Gala Night was held at Springfort Hall on Saturday, 2nd March. The Speakeasy Club was absolutely delighted to receive a prestigious Club Award. This award acknowledges the contribution that the Club has made to the North Cork community over the past twenty five years. During that time, the Club has assisted many members to acquire good communication skills. It has also provided public speaking training in various Secondary Schools in the locality. The Club wish to thank the Mallow Sports and Leisure Council and their sponsors for organising such a wonderful event.
Sean Corcoran & Anne O'Donovan at Mallow Sports & Leisure awards. 

Meanwhile, Speakeasy members will participate at this weekend's Kanturk Arts Festival. On Friday evening, Bobby Buckley, Gerry O'Callaghan and Liam Flynn will be part of an impressive programme at O'Callaghan Motor World, Kanturk. On Saturday night, Sean Corcoran and Kieran Buckley are performing on the Drama evening at the Edel Quinn Hall. More details are available on the Arts Festival website.

The next Speakeasy meeting will take place on Thursday, 21st March in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at8.00PM.As always, guests are welcome to attend. Unlike conventional courses and classes, you can join Toastmasters at any time and start on a meaningful journey to improved communications. Guests are never coerced to speak unless they wish to do so.
For more information about our Club, please check out our website,speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook. 

Monday, March 04, 2019

A night of verbal jousting beckons.

Speakeasy Toastmasters Club will host the North Cork (Area 17) Finals of the Speech and Evaluation Contests this Thursday night in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 8.00PM.

Qualifying Contestants from Fermoy, Failte (Charleville), and Speakeasy Toastmasters will do verbal battle in two Contests. Among the participants will be Frank O'Driscoll, Jerry Hennessy and Johanna Hegarty of Fermoy and Sean Corcoran, Brendan Foley and Pat Sexton of Speakeasy.
Sean Corcoran & Tadgh O'Keeffe, Fáilte Toastmasters. 

The conventional Toastmasters meeting works at creating a relaxed athmosphere to reduce any nervousness that speakers may have. The two competition nights are a little like what speakers might experience in speaking engagements in the workplace, in the dressing room or in meetings of voluntary organisations. Competition encourages members to move outside of their " comfort zone". It provides the opportunity to members to test their skills in a competitive context. It helps them to broaden their communicationskills.

Moreover, Contests can be hugely entertaining and fascinating for an audience, be it of Toastmasters members or guests. We witness speakers perform at a higher level and experience a broad range of ideas on a range of worthy subjects. Speeches are of a 5 to 7 minutes duration and Contestants are judged on communication skills and speech value. In the Speech Evaluation Contest, Contestants are required to listen to a "Test Speaker" and provide a 3 minute evaluation of that speech ( Contest Contestants cannot hear previous evaluations). They are judged on their analytical skills and the quality of the recommendations offered to the speaker.

The First and second place winners in each Contest will qualify for the Division B (North Munster) Finals in Limerick,7th April.Area 17 has a proud record of achievements in these Contests. Kevin Walsh, Orison Carlie(Fermoy), Joe Portley (Crusaders) and Deirdre Linehan, Kieran Butler and Pat Sexton of Speakeasy have all participated in Irish and British ( District 71) Speech Contest Finals. Indeed, Joe Portley in 1998 and Deirdre Linehan in 2018 are the only Cork representatives to capture victory at District level. In the Speech Evaluation Contest, Michael Cronin,Pat Sexton
and Tony O'Regan have represented Speakeasy and Area 17 at District level, with Pat Sexton emerging victorious in 2018.

In other news, Speakeasy members are privileged to be involved in the up coming Kanturk Arts Festival. Liam Flynn, Bobby Buckley and Kieran Butler will be part of the impressive lineup of performers at the Festival Opening Night at O'Callaghans Motors Showroom on Friday,15th March. On Saturday,16th March, Sean Corcoran and Kieran Buckley will participate in the Drama Night at the Edel Quinn Hall. Both events are worthy of support. 

In the meantime, all roads lead to the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on this Thursday Night for the Area Finals of the Speech and Evaluation Contests. Proceedings commence at 8.00 PM sharp. As always, guests are welcome to come along and join us for what promises to be a fascinating night. For more information about this Club, please check out our websitespeakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Competions time!

"It's only words and words are all I have" was how Sean Corcoran introduced his speech entry in last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters Annual Speech Contest. "Words" dealt with the importance of words and how they can uplift or undermine, depending on the users intentions. Words manipulate - the L'oreal advertising slogan "Because I'm worth it" or the Tesco motto -"Every little helps" heve entered popular culture. But, most sinister of all, words can be used in a subliminal fashion to sell a message. The songwriter, Jackson Browne, once wrote - "It's just the same old murder movie and they call it the news". Much of modern day news and political commentary accentuates the negative which is why Sean never listens to the news.

Rachel Liston delved into the complex and, sometimes, fractious nature of the work environment. "Breaking Point" illustrated the impact that work conflicts can have on the individuals involved. Once again, inappropriate language can leave a deep scar and extract a huge toll on the person offended. Sometimes, it is better to engage in flight rather than fight and hope to flourish in a different work situation. But, even in the toughest of conficts, there are positives - you develop resilience.

Resilience featured strongly in Pat Sexton's speech -"On the Ropes". Here, we found ourselves brought back in time to the golden era of World Heavyweight Boxing when George Foreman and Mohammed Ali did battle in " The rumble in the Jungle".In what was deemed as the biggest sporting event of the century, Ali tapped into his vast reserves of courage and resilience to forge a victory in the unlikliest of circumstances. The resilience displayed on that occasion cut both ways as the vanquished, George Foreman subsequently regained his World Heavyweight Title at the age of 45, becoming the oldest Title winner in the history of the sport.

Turning loss into victory was the theme of Claire O'Connell's entry - "The Loser Effect". The pawn in chess is a weak piece. Yet, on certain occasions, it can become a Queen, an example of a loser being transformed into a winner. In life, the experience of losing can be used as hard won experience. We just need to be willing to learn from our losses. In aviation, the information retrieved from the "black box'' has been processed and analysed to ensure that air travel maintains it's impressive safety record.

Life's experiences was reflected in Brendan Foley's presentation - "It's the journey,not the destination". Imagine running a long race where you are so focused on reaching the finishing line that you don't appreciate the scenery? Sometimes, our focus is such that goals enslave rather than enable. Achieving goals can be a soul-destroying exercise if we don't enjoy the journey.

After a well earned coffee break, proceedings resumed with the Speech Evaluation Contest. The challenge for the participants was to provide concise and meaningful feedback to a speaker and do it within a positive framework. The "Test Speaker" was Johanna Hegarty of Fermoy Toastmasters who delivered a hugely entertaining story about her " Job Interview". The 4 Contestants, Sean Corcoran, Brendan Foley, Pat Sexton and Claire O'Connell each gave detailed and helpful advice to the speaker.

At the meeting's conclusion,the results were announced - Pat Sexton was the Speech Contest Winner with Brendan Foley in runner up position. In the Speech Evaluation Contest, Pat Sexton and Sean Corcoran were in First and Second Places, in that order. Brendan, Sean and Pat will now represent Speakeasy in the Area 17 (North Cork) Finals which will be take place at the next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting on Thursday,7th March in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM.
Pat Sexton, Sean Corcoran & Brendan Foley, Club Contest Winners. 

This is a wonderful opportunity to witness some of the more accomplished Toastmasters in North Cork "strutting their stuff" on the bigger stage. As always, guests are very welcome to come along. Guests are never coerced into speaking unless they wish to do so and the athmosphere is warm and welcoming. For more information, please check out our websitespeakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Ode to Speakeasy!

A January Night 2019, at Mallow’s Speakeasy Toastmasters.

A Thursday, my usual visit, The Green line to the Green, 
A stroll through the lanes and markets of Dublin’s Southside,
Cross the Liffey by the new pedestrian bridge, not the Halfpenny, 
Transported by the Redline at Jervis, four stops to Heuston,
Waited for Platform 2 to be announced for Cork.
Sat in a single seat of the kind facing back to Dublin,
So that I was dragged dozing to drowsy Mallow.
Down from the hilltop station through the town’s long street
And then after tea up the same long street to the HI B
And I climb its long, long corridor to the darkened Room 
Where in, Plato’s daughter eagerly spoke of all
The Forms of Life, physical, spiritual, in a cave’s light, 
A blockbuster formula for ever - lasting strength.
No worries, it was all to be panned by Mallow’s Aristotelian son
Who spoke of the moderation in an elephant’s trunk!
Once in a golden grove Plato discoursed with upstart Aristotle.
Now the still same talk in a murky Mallow hotel hall 
And I sit at your feet, earnest daughter, contentious son, enthralled.

So enamoured was Bobby Buckley about a recent Speakeasy meeting, that he waxed poetic about it. Though resident in Dublin, Mallow native Bobby makes the train journey South to each meeting where he casually assumes the role of Socrates, alwaysentertaining and never dull. That poem was the highlight of last week's Topics Session. Though, obviously not an impromptu contribution, it hit the sweet spot as he skillfully worked it in to his topic reply.

Excelling in the role,first time Topicsmaster, Ann Nyhan could have been a rugby referee calling out "Bind, set, engage!" as the audience scrummaged on her list of topics. First to be devoured were the authors of the recent report in "The Lancet" who warned about a doomsday scenario of eating meat.Several speakers ( mostly non-farmer) questioned the motivations and the impartiality of those who commissioned and authored the report. Commercial links with vegan food processors and biased vegan advocates like Dr. Walter Willett were cited. The Dr. Wakefield scandal where spurious research and findings damaged parents' confidence in vaccination programmes was cited as a cautionary tale about heeding such reports. The products of choice of vegans, almond milk and avocados leave a huge carbon footprint and moreover, are used by the large Californian drug cartels as money laundering crops. What remained unmentioned was the uncomfortable truth that the most infamous advocate of vegan living was a certain Herr Hitler!

The upsurge in online shopping was addressed by Mary Moynihan. Bette Midler declared "I want it all and I want it delivered".The results can be reflected in the decline of retail outlets and boarded up stores. It seems bizarre to order the same dress in different sizes and return the unsuitable ones.Some shops are fighting back by offering an online service but will it stem the shop closures? Perhaps, in the future,High streets will become residential areas.

Brexit reared it's ugly head with Gerry O'Callaghan advocating that we refrain from following Britain's lead and remain within the European Union.It seems that many members of Speakeasy prefer a forum where subjects like hard borders and Boris Johnson can be avoided for even a little while.

But pride of place went to Bobby Buckley who responded to the question - "What inspires you most?" by pulling the aforementioned poem out of his pocket. It shows that you can prepare an impromptu talk and in Bobby's case, win the Best TopicAward.
Speech evaluators Helsa Giles, Kieran Butler, Marie Lynes, Theresa O'Reilly & Marie Fitzpatrick. 

Speakeasy will host it's Annual Speech and Evaluation Contests at our next meeting. This will provide members with the opportunity of applying their skills in a a competitive context. As always, it promises to be a fascinating night of verbal jousting. As always, guests are welcome to come along and see what happens. Visitors are never obliged to speak unless they wish to do so. We look forward to seeing you in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow on Thursday,21th February at 8.00PM.
For more information about this club, please check out our website speakeasyt oastmasters.com or on Facebook.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The man who couldn't say no.

In a remarkable confession at last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting, Bobby Buckley acknowledged that he couldn't say the word " no". With his hugely entertaining speech - "Yes Man", he recalled his grandmother describing him as "willing and very amiable" and replying "yes,nana". He proceeded to say" yes" to life and most importantly,to his wife! The result was a house full with children and a life of fulfilment. Recently, he said "yes" to his wife's suggestion to take in a holiday in Hong Kong. Taking in this cultural experience, he walked the main street in the highly populous Kowloon area. A street which is approximately the same length as Patrick Street involved an hour long walk to reach the opposite end. To his wife's suggestion, he said "yes" to forsaking Hotel Food and experiencing the ambience of Hong Kong's gigantic food hall and enjoying the authentic local food.

Food played a central part,too, in Vincent Harris's speech - " One Good Deed". He brought his audience right back to the dark days of the eighties and "Slattery's Bus" transporting young Irish men to London where they hoped to gain meaningful employment and accommodation. On the journey down from Pembroke to London, the driver stopped at a small unremarkable Service Station. But a strange thing happened to the young, anxious men traveling into the unknown. Over some coffee and a full English breakfast, the hospitality and compassion of the chef and the waitress helped to lift the tension for all the emigrants. It seemed that the bus driver, in an act of kindness, deliberately chose this remote cafe for this reason. As Vincent arrived in the vast skyscraper land of London, he was no longer afraid but hopeful that everything was going to work out for him. And for that he remains thankful to a considerate bus driver.

The kindness of strangers was the theme of Michael Cronin's "Heroes of the Famine". Michael brought to life the turbulent and traumatic times of 1840's Ireland when the great hunger ( many would describe it as a great starvation) decimated the Irish population. Over a million people died and an equal number left the country. What is often forgotten is the contribution made by various individuals and organisations to distribute much needed food to a desperate and destitute people.

Notable efforts were made by the British Relief Association to raise funds for famine relief. In March,1847, the Association organised a hugely successful Day of Fast in England.And, like a lot of charitable events, those who could least afford it, gave the most.Even convicts in a London prison have generously. Two members of the Association, the Polish Aristocrat and explorer, Count Pawel Strzelecki and Matthew Higgins, led a campaign to provide Indian meal and rice to the starving masses on the Western Seaboard counties of Mayo, Sligo and Donegal. The Society of Friends or The Quakers mobilised their congregation to help the destitute. Raising over two hundred thousand pounds, they organised food, blankets and medicine and encouraged self sufficiency.Several members made the ultimate sacrifice when they succumbed to disease which was rampant. Other notable volunteers like the American, Asinate Nichelson played their part in bringing relief to the famine stricken families. The kindness of these compassionate strangers should never be forgotten when we reflect on our greatest tragedy.

Claire O'Connell adressed the subject - "The Hidden Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners". At a time when a lot of focus is on the negative side effects of sugar, it is conveniently forgotten that the myriad of artificial sweeteners can induce all the bad side effects of sugar and others as well. They contribute to depression,heart disease, cancers and obesity. In short, they are too sweet to be wholesome. The most striking argument in Claire's talk was that sugar is a natural product that can be produced organically. Sweeteners are laboratory produced with side effects still under investigation. Moderation in everything seems to be the key to health, and avoidance of sugars and sweeteners is advisable.

By contrast, Gordon Sharp-Bolster gave a fascinating insight into the crisis that faces American Football."Politics in American Sport" focused on the ongoing Colin Kaepernick protest which has seen several coloured footballers refusing to stand for their National Anthem.The "taking the knee" protest began as a response to the perceived discrimination and brutality against African-Americans by the Police force. The situation has been politiced further by the interventions of President Trump which are aimed at galvanizing his support base. Commercial considerations muddy the waters even further. Sportswear giants, Nike continue to sponsor Colin Kaepernick and have seen their market share soar. This stand off highlights the poisonous state of race relations that blight American society.
Speakers Michael Cronin, Vincent Harris, Clare O'Connell, Bobby Buckley & Gordon Sharp-Bolster. 

Readers have enquired about the choice of subjects that speakers address. All subjects are self-chosen and reflect the interests of the speaker. The Toastmasters programme focuses on assisting the speaker to speak skillfully and confidently. Each of the above speakers was evaluated by an assigned evaluator. Theresa O'Reilly, Kieran Butler, Helsa Giles,Marie Lynes and Marie Fitzpatrick provided comprehensive and useful feedback to the speakers.At the meeting's conclusion, awards were presented to Vincent Harris,Best Speaker and Theresa O'Reilly,Best Evaluator.

The next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting takes place in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday, 21st. February at 8.00PM. As always, guests are welcome and are not obliged to speak unless they wish to do so.
For more information please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook.