Monday, December 18, 2017

A Christmas Special

A Christmas Special.

The African adage - 'It takes a village to raise a child' took on a real meaning at the Christmas Meeting of Speakeasy Toastmasters Club.

The "accidental theme" of this meeting was childhood, be it a child's Christmas in Ireland or a child's formative years in Rural Nigeria. 

Delivering her 'Ice Breaker' speech, new member, Celine O'Shea presented a frank and fascinating account of her childhood years in her native Nigeria. She eloquently asserted how her ten years growing up in a small village, playing with clay, molded her life and her values. It was a childhood without many of the things that we take for granted - running water, electricity and school books. Despite her many travels to Nigeria's capital city, to Cyprus, London and Ireland, the core of her character was created in that tiny rural village. 
Anne O'Donovan, Mary Buckley, Celine O'Shea & Bridie O' Connell
The Christmas childhood thread continued to be woven in Bobby Buckley's hugely enjoyable speech - '' The Bay Window Christmas Tree". It was a tale of vanity in 1950's Mallow and  his mother keeping up appearances by fitting a Bay Window to the family home in The Spa. But a window of such dimensions requires an equally imposing Christmas Tree! It fell to Bobby to rescue the situation and restore domestic harmony, following his father's futile attempt. This speech evoked nostalgia for a Mallow long since vanished, with it's references to the Beet Factory, O'Flynn Stores and Ardleys Bicycle Shop. 

Mary Moynihan presented a beautifully evocative interpretation of Patrick Kavanagh's - "A Christmas Childhood". This popular poem is filled with beautiful imagery of a rustic Christmas. "The music of milking" and "One side of the potato pit was white with frost" are just two of word pictures that the poet painted in this wonderful poem. 

Finally, Don McSweeney told his tale - "My life as an elf". Set in his childhood years in the the town of Castleisland, Don held a very important role in his family's Toy Shop. He served as elf and toy advisor. His "job"  began in February when the toy companies held their trade exhibitions. This was a time when parents placed deposits on Christmas Toys before they made the big purchase. Don had a busy time in the packaging department and spent very little time on the shelf! 

Toastmaster or Chairperson of the Meeting was Liam Flynn of Millstreet. Now celebrating what he describes as "eleven great years in Speakeasy", Liam set the tone for the Meeting and introduced each speaker with aplomb. 

Topicsmaster was Verna Byrne. In stark contrast to Liam, Verna is in Speakeasy for a short twelve months. She presented a varied selection box of topics - ranging from Seasonal subjects like "Your favourite Christmas song". Songs like "Fairytale of New York," "Merry Christmas Everybody"  and Joni Mitchell's "River" were popular choices. A topic that provoked a great response was "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you were?" 

At the meeting's conclusion, Bridie O'Connell, in her role as General Evaluator presented awards to Mary Buckley, Best Evaluation ; Kieran Butler, Best Topic ;Bobby Buckley, Best Speaker. 

Speakeasy Toastmasters Club will take a little break for Christmas but will return in the New Year. As we ponder our resolutions for 2018, why not consider learning a new and valuable skill. Speakeasy Toastmasters is dedicated to helping it's members develop their communication skills in a relaxed, friendly environment. We look forward to seeing you in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM on Thursday, 11th January. 

In the meantime, from all in Speakeasy we wish you a peaceful and happy Christmas. 

For more information, check out our website Or visit us on Facebook. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Festive Meeting

Speakeasy Toastmasters Club will conclude it's Meetings Programme for 2017 on Thursday, 14th of December in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM.
In keeping with the season that's in it, it will have a festive atmosphere. It will have speeches, entertainment, fun and food. 

Recently, Club members have received quite a lot of feedback from the public who read about Speakeasy meetings in the 'local newspapers'. We suggest that you 'take the next step'. Our doors are always open to guests, the welcome mat is laid out, so come on in. As always, guests are never put on the spot and required to speak,unless you choose to do so. Nor, will you be required to kiss a stranger under the mistletoe.

Our aim is to help our members to communicate with confidence and ease in a relaxed environment.This could be the opportunity to make your New Year's Resolution early - learn a new skill that will have life long benefits.

Recently, RTÉ Radio broadcast a feature on the popular 'Documentary on One' series called 'The little mouse in the corner'. It's maker, Pauline Dunne, details her experiences of being an introvert. She details her decision to join a Toastmasters Club and her commitment to make her 'Ice Breaker' speech. There are many people like Pauline, who have taken that step to assert themselves and have found their voices through Toastmasters. Speakeasy has a motto that the next person who joins our Club is the member who may benefit most from Toastmasters. 

2017 was another very successful year for Speakeasy with many highlights. In March, we held a fascinating Theme Night on The Sixties. Hippy haircuts, flares and flowers were the order of the night. Our last meeting was the Schools Public Speaking Competition, which attained the highest standard of speaking in it's twelve year history. 

In Speech Contests, Bobby Buckley, Pat Sexton and Marie Fitzpatrick represented the club in the Division B(North Munster) Final last April. In November , Pat Sexton competed in The British and Irish District Final of the Table Topics Contest in Sheffield.In November, also,  Jason Fitzgerald represented the Club in the European Union Soapbox Competition Final in Dublin Castle. 

Individual members  achieved recognition for their participation in Toastmasters. Club President, Helsa Giles was awarded Division B Toastmaster of the Year. Michael Cronin achieved the Distinguished Toastmaster Award which acknowledged his contribution to the organisation. He was also the recipient of the Jerry Mulcahy Award for his achievements and commitment to the Speakeasy Club. 

We look forward to seeing you on Thursday, 14th December in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM for our Christmas Special. 

For more information on the Club , please visit our website or follow us on Facebook. Alternatively, you can contact Helsa Giles, Club President, 083 8858848.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Kanturk supreme in Schools Speech Contest.

Kanturk is making a habit of winning. Their G.A.A. Club had a double triumph in the County Football and Hurling Championships. And now their Secondary Schools did a clean sweep in the Annual Speakeasy Toastmasters Schools Public Speaking Competition.

The Best Individual Speaker was Darragh Healy-Fitzgerald, representing Scoil Mhuire while the Best Overall Team was Coláiste Treasa.Many observers believe that the standard displayed by all contestants was the highest seen in the twelve years of the Competition.
Darragh-Healy Fitzgerald with Club President Helsa Giles.

Darragh Healy-Fitzgerald is the first pupil from Scoil Mhuire to win the top prize.  Darragh, who hails from Liscarroll gave a speech about the evils of prejudice entitled - 'Birds of a feather - stereotype together'. Darragh's message was pithy and profound - 'If you judge the book by the cover, you will fail to read the words within'. 

Second Prize went to Charlotte Giles of Coláiste Treasa. She based her speech around the beautiful words of Nelson Mandela - 'There is no passion to be found in living a life less than the one you are capable of living'. It was a moving and thoughtful reflection on the value of mental health.
Charlotte Giles with Club President Helsa Giles.
In third place was Queensly Erhaber, St. Mary's Mallow who addressed the ever topical subject of 'Terrorism'. She drew parallels between the actions of gunmen in tragedies like Las Vegas, Sandy Hook School and the church killings by Dylan Roof and what we classify as terrorism. 
She challenged us as to why all shootings aren't classified for what they are - acts of terrorism.
Queensly Erhaber with Club President Helsa Giles.
Also participating in the Competition were speakers from Nagle Ríce, Doneraile, Davis College and the Patrician Academy, Mallow.

The Club wish to express our continued gratitude to Mallow Credit Union for their generous sponsorship of this event. 

Speakeasy will round off their Meetings Programme for 2017 with our Christmas Meeting on Thursday, 14th December. As always, we will have usual meeting but with a festive feel. So, if you wish to experience Speakeasy in a slightly different mode, why not exercise your right to party at our Christmas Meeting in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00pm. As a guest you will be very welcome and, who knows, it may inspire you to make a Toastmasters New Year's resolution. 
For more information, check out the website or follow us on Facebook. Alternatively you can contact Helsa Giles, 083 8858848.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Schools Public Speaking Competition

Schools Public Speaking Competition.

Speakeasy Toastmasters Club is hosting their Annual Schools Public Speaking Competition on Thursday 30th November in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM sharp. 

Since it's inception in 2006, this competition has given Transition Year students the opportunity to acquire and display their communication skills in an exciting verbal joust. It is an opportunity for everyone else to try and figure out what goes on in a teenager's head!Down through the years, Secondary Schools from all over the North Cork area have participated in this Competition.

The winning School and individual speaker will receive perpetual trophies, which were kindly sponsored by the Hibernian Hotel and Mallow Credit Union. 

This year, we are delighted to have participating Schools from Doneraile, Kanturk and Mallow who will address topical issues like teenage life, addiction, sport, humour and stereotyping. As always, guests are welcome. Support for all the contestants is greatly appreciated.

We are now approaching the Second Anniversary of the sad passing of esteemed member Jerry Mulcahy. Jerry was a hugely committed and highly popular member of our Club for seventeen years. He served on many Club Committees in various positions, culminating with his Presidency in 2013.
Jerry Mulcahy
His many speeches chronicled the life of the Irish immigrants in London in the 1950's.He spoke about surviving on a diet of 'iffits' - if it's there we'll eat it! He was a fountain of knowledge on the changing face of Rural Ireland through the decades. 

So enthusiastic about the benefits of Toastmasters, Jerry established 'Nice and Easy Toastmasters in the Cope Foundation in Mallow. Over the years, many clients of Cope benefitted from Jerry's gentle tuition. He will be long remembered for his wit, wisdom and generosity of spirit. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.

For more information on Toastmasters, please check out our website or visit us on Facebook. 
Alternatively, contact Helsa Giles, 083 8858848. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Distinguished Toastmaster

The Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting last week was a special occasion that marked the wonderful achievements of one of our most illustrious members, Michael Cronin. To mark the occasion, fellow Club Member, Tony O'Regan performed a 'Roast'. The Frank Murphy of Speakeasy!', was how Tony described the continuous involvement of Michael Cronin on Club committees for year on year. With gentle humour, Tony paid tribute to Michael on twenty - one years of membership of the Club and on his many accomplishments during this time. As a result of his long term participation in the Toastmasters Programme - over 40 speeches and several leadership roles, Michael has recently  achieved the 'Distinguished Toastmaster' Award which is the highest recognition achievable in Toastmasters. 
Michael Cronin is presented with His Distinguished Toastmaster Award by Noel O'Connor (left). Noel introduced Michael to Toastmasters and acted as a mentor. 

From a shy and humble beginning, Michael has blossomed to becoming a well-known and popular member, known throughout Ireland and Britain for his Humorous speeches. During the day, Michael is a dairy farmer in Ballybrack, Doneraile. By night, he is an all-round entertainer. His winning speech in the 2008 District Final is remembered with particular fondness. As Tony reminded his audience, he also served as Club President, not once but twice and finally getting it right on the second occasion. To the applause of a packed audience, Tony presented Michael with a wall plaque to acknowledge this spectacular achievement. 

Once again, Speakeasy produced a meeting to remember. Other speaking highlights came from Claire O'Connell who simulated a Television Broadcast. Entitled 'Double Standards', Claire addressed the recently announced French ban on the use of underweight models.Using a soapbox style, Claire mused that in the interests of consistency, perhaps the ban should be extended to overweight models. She spoke about the the complex nature of Body Mass Index.

Michael Donegan presented an Icebreaker speech entitled 'Second Time Around'. In fact, this was Michael's second Icebreaker, he delivered the first 24 years ago, in the Club's first year. He reminisced on the changes that have happened in his life in the meantime. These changes were most obvious in the lives of his children who have moved from little steps to giant strides in adult life. He spoke about retirement and the need for new interests. He has joined the cheapest gym of all - walking the roads around Mallow.

Mary Moynihan did an interpretive reading from Frank O'Connor's classic story 'A first Confession'. She brought to life the humour of the piece - the narrator's ongoing skirmishes with his grandmother and sister, the fear of being sent to the Bishop and the rather confusing architecture of the confessional. It is a story with a twist, suggesting that God may be benign after all!

We were privileged to have a special guest speaker to round out our speech programme. Meena Verma of Raheen Toastmasters in Limerick delivered her wonderfully entertaining speech - 'There are plenty of fish in the sea-really?' Meena recently competed in The District 71 Humorous Speech Contest Final in Sheffield.Amid much laughter, she recalled how as an Indian girl, she had only experienced cowboys on Internet dating sites. It seems that most men seem to lie about their age, their marital status, their height and their interests. And jealousy sets takes over! Hilariously, she recalls the woman who has met her third husband, 'having cremated her first two husbands'. As Meena put it- 'I am looking for one husband and she has husbands to burn!!' 
Meena Verma with Margaret O'Regan.
  The Toastmaster of the Evening was the ever genial Bobby Buckley. A native of Mallow, Bobby found fame,  fortune and family bliss in Dublin. He is a former President of Rathfarnham Toastmasters and colourfully describes Rathfarnham as his wife and Speakeasy as his mistress. 

Don McSweeney from Kanturk acted as discussion leader for the Topics Session. On the subject of winter, Gerry O"Callaghan made loneliness seem humorous. Anne O'Donovan and Brendan Foley presented alternative views on the sending of Christmas cards. On the subject of futuristic driving, we had the quote of the evening - 'With driverless cars, how will the Gardai fake breathyliser tests?'

During the Evaluation section of the meeting, the assigned evaluators of the speeches, Brendan Foley, Pat Sexton, Noel O'Connor, Theresa O'Reilly and Margaret O'Regan gave detailed and constructive feedback to all the speakers. Awards were presented to Tony O'Regan - Best Speaker; Margaret O'Regan - Best Evaluation ; Bridie O'Connell - Best Topic.  However, it is worth emphasising that all participants at a meeting are winners. 

Speakeasy Toastmasters were saddened to hear of the sad passing of Adrian Melia. Adrian was a hugely popular and charismatic member of Kildare Toastmasters. He travelled the length and breadth of Leinster and Munster, participating at Club meetings. He was also well known as a sports photographer for The Leinster Leader newspaper. We convey our condolences to his partner and his family. He will be much missed but fondly remembered by his many friends in Toastmasters and in Kildare G.A.A.

Speakeasy Toastmasters next meeting will be The Schools Public Speaking Competition. The cream of Transition Year Students in North Cork will battle it out for the Top Prizes. It promises to be another fascinating night. As always, guests are welcome. It takes place in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday 30th November at 8.00PM. 

For more information please visit our website or follow us on Facebook. Alternatively you can contact Helsa Giles 083 8858848. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Do you ever feel that you are invisible?

You wish to say something. You want to express your feelings. You have an important point to make. The words are there but you can't open your mouth to speak. Once again, your courage betrays you, it's like that you are invisible. 

That is the feeling experienced by the 'silent' majority, by people with something valid to say but too nervous to say  it. That is where Toastmasters comes in. It provides an opportunity and a platform to learn the skills of communication and the confidence to do it in a relaxed, non intimidating environment. 
For 25 years, Speakeasy Toastmasters has been helping it's members to find their voice,  assert their point of view and be invisible no more.

Everything that happens in Toastmasters, is centred around the Club Meeting. This is both our forum and our workshop. Members are encouraged to participate and the 'nerve wracking' is replaced by a positive feeling where you are shown that your words really matter.

Toastmasters was founded in California over ninety years ago. It's founder, Ralph Smedley, had the motto - 'We learn most in moments of enjoyment'. Speakeasy takes that message to heart. At all times, we strive to entertain and educate and to make everyone feel at ease. Our success can be measured by the number of members who have applied the skills learnt and the confidence gained to leadership roles throughout the community, from the G.A.A. to local Day-care Centers. It is also clearly evident in the manner in which members have been transformed from being 'tongue tied' to being confident communicators. 

Our Meeting Programme continues on Thursday night, 16th of November. As always, guests are welcome to come and visit us to see our Meetings  for themselves. You will not be press ganged into speaking, unless you choose to do so. A varied selection of speakers will be the main focus of the night, with a strong 'Topics Session' to round off proceedings. Among the speakers will be Meena Verma from the Raheen Club in Limerick, who recently won the Division B Humorous Speech Contest and participated in the District Final in Sheffield. It promises to be another entertaining night. It takes place in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM on Thursday, 16th November. You are welcome to come along and enjoy the experience.

For more information, check out our website or follow us on Facebook.
Alternatively, you can contact Helsa Giles, 083 8858848. 

Monday, November 06, 2017

Cultures collide in Toastmasters travelogue.

I kept looking up and I could not see the sky',this was how Valerie Murphy described the culture shock she experienced when setting foot in Tokyo for the first time.

Last week's meeting of Speakeasy Toastmasters was a night of culture and travel - from Japan to the early days of Transatlantic flight, and from the vineyards of Alsace to the ski slopes of Austria.

It was a meeting where the common theme was travel and mobility. Valerie Murphy commenced proceedings with a speech entitled 'Preparation for my first week in Japan'. She recalled her experiences as a 22 year old student in Japan, setting off on a year long term of teaching English in Konin City. It all began with an orientation course in Tokyo where Valerie was awe struck by the sight of the new and exciting Neon lights and skyscrapers that seemed to sway in the breeze. And that was just the start of a fruitful and challenging year in Valerie's life. 

Theresa O'Reilly kept the theme breezing along with 'Smooth Driving'. This was a sales presentation on the art of 'Cold Calling'. With the willing participation of Marie Fitzpatrick, Theresa deftly demonstrated the skills required to successfully develop a rapport with a potential client and how to close the sale. The items on sale - a fleet of Volkswagon vans. 

Jillian Harris artfully presented 'A great expectation'. She bought us back to 1980s, when German wine exporters targeted the Irish market with labels like Blue Nun and Black Tower, wines of dubious quality. Great German wines were considered too good to export. They were kept for the home market and inferior quality plonk exported. A huge mistake as the German wine industry still hasn't found favour in Irish hearts. Gillian spoke glowingly about the charms of the Riesling grape and it's aromatic dry wines, a warm companion on a cold night. She outlined it's aging qualities and described wines with a vintage of a century or more, which seemed rather sad for those of us in the audience who wish to enjoy a wine in our own lifetime!! 

Don McSweeney took us on a journey to 'Foynes and Beyond'. He recalled the days when flying was in it's infancy and when Aviation's biggest challenge was to cross the  Atlantic. It was the era of the flying boat and the village of Foynes in the Shannon Estuary became the hub for Pan American flights into Europe,becoming one of the largest Airports in the world. The luxurious Yankee Clipper took to the skies, carrying 70 passengers including Hollywood superstars like Humphrey Bogart and members of the Royal Family. Alas, it was surpassed by technology and the land to land aeroplane but the Foynes legacy endures to this day in the form of Irish Coffee. 

Liam Jones closed out the Speech Programme with his outlandish tale of 'Séamus with a Fada'. He flew us to the Austrian Alps, with the flamboyant Limerick man, the maestro of the belly-dance and a dapper dresser who deemed it appropriate to wear his all white ensemble on the piste. Needless to say that all forms of mayhem ensued with the irrepressible Séamus sliding backwards down the 'Mercy Slide' to earn his place in Austrian folklore! 

The Toastmaster of the meeting was John Brennan. Though new to our Club, he performed like a seasoned professional, introducing each speaker with style and creating a positive, friendly environment. Chairing meetings is a vital skill and Speakeasy provides an opportunity to master that skill. 

As always, each presentation was thoroughly evaluated by the assigned evaluators, Helsa Giles, Marie Lynes, Ray Ryan, Mary Buckley and Pat Sexton. Evaluation is a hugely important aspect of our Meetings, providing all speakers with feedback and guidance on how to acquire the competency skills and the confidence levels for future development. It is somewhat like 'Operation Transformation', without the humiliation! 

Topicsmaster of the evening , Bridie O'Connell challenged our impromptu skills with provocative questions on the negative impact of Facebook, temptation, first impressions and the future of electric cars. We learned that Facebook is like a fridge - you know that there is nothing in there but you look anyway. A new affliction is taking hold - 'Range anxiety'. That is what drivers of electric cars feel as they fret about reaching the next charging point! 

Our General Evaluator, Sean Corcoran appraised the meetings strengths and awarded prizes to Marie Fitzpatrick (Best Topic), Mary Buckley (Best Evaluation) and Jillian Harris (Best Speaker).

Our meeting season continues on Thursday, 16th November. It will be an opportunity for another broad range of speeches, some education, a useful exchange of ideas  and lots of fun! As always, guests are always welcome. You will always be entertained but never coerced into speaking unless you choose to do so. So, put your TV on record and drop into The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM.

For more information about our Club,please visit our website or follow us on Facebook. Alternatively, contact Helsa Giles 083 8858848. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Schools Speaking Contest

Speakeasy Toastmasters to host Schools Public Speaking Competition.

Speakeasy Toastmasters Club are delighted to announce that the 12th Annual Speakeasy Schools Public Speaking Competition will take place on Thursday 30th November in the Hibernian Hotel,Mallow at 8.00PM.

The inaugural Schools Public Speaking Competition was held in 2006 under the guidance of then President, Mary Buckley. Participants came from Transition Year students in the Secondary schools in Mallow - Davis College, Patrician Academy and St Mary's School.

On that occasion, Emma Nyhan of St. Mary's Secondary School, Mallow won the Perpetual Trophy for Best Speaker and her school was awarded the Best Overall Team prize. From the outset, we have been fortunate to have the kind sponsorship and support from Mallow Credit Union and the Hibernian Hotel. We are grateful for their support for this competition. 

Since then the Competition has expanded enormously with participating schools coming from all over the North Cork region. Schools in Boherbue, Buttevant, Charleville, Doneraile, Kanturk,Millstreet and Mitchelstown.

Each year, students continue to inspire with their creativity, enthusiasm and honour. Topics selected range from the serious to the sublime, from the issue of consent to the joy of rugby, from fashion to peer pressure. Reflecting the diversity of our schools, our competition reflect the diversity of a changing Ireland. We hold fond memories of Davis College student, Radek Zuk who talked himself to victory with his hilarious account of his experiences as a young Polish immigrant in Ireland.

Each speaker delivers a 5 minute speech on a topic of their choice and are judged on their content and presentation. Each school is entitled to 2 participants. If your school is interested in participating and hasn't yet received entry details, please contact Helsa Giles at 0838858848. Guests are most welcome on this night. If you wish to be inspired by the youth of today and the leaders of tomorrow, mark the date, 30 November into your diary.

The Division B (North Munster) took place recently in the Castletroy Park Hotel in Limerick. The North Cork area was represented by Liam Jones (Fáilte Toastmasters) and Frank O'Driscoll (Fermoy) in the Humorous Speech Contest and Eilís O'Brien (Fermoy) and Pat Sexton of Speakeasy. 

Meena Verma  from Raheen Toastmasters, Limerick took the honours in the Humorous Contest with her 'Internet Dating' embarrassments garnering the most appreciation. In the Table Topics Contest, Pat Sexton came up trumps with his response to the question - 'If you were to lose one of your five senses, which would you least like to lose?'

Both Meena and Pat will go forward to the District 71 Final in Sheffield on the Weekend of the 4th of November. They will pit their skills against the best of Britain and Ireland.

The next Speakeasy meeting takes place on Thursday 2nd November in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM. As always guests are always welcome. Speakeasy is dedicated to fostering and developing better communication skills. If you have wondered what happens at our meetings, or perhaps wish to learn an exciting new skill and communicate with confidence, our doors are always open. So come on in!

For more information, contact Helsa Giles - 083 8858848. Alternatively, you can visit our website or follow us on Facebook. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

A game of bluff! 

'Even though I'm being put down, the price is going up'. That was how Gerry O"Callaghan described the rising costs of funerals at last weeks Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting. 
Despite the aftermath of Storm Ophelia and the impending Storm Brian, a large crowd braved the elements for  another enjoyable night of entertainment and enlightenment. 

Proceedings kicked off with Sean Corcoran and his educational talk - "How to answer topics". He quoted Churchill - "I am just preparing my impromptu remarks". Listen, be brief and conclude was the essence of Sean's advice. His practical and honest advice helped remove the terror from topics. 

Marie Fitzpatrick gave an interpretative reading from the Charlotte Bronte's classic novel 'Jane Eyre'. The purpose of interpretation is to give life to the words on the printed page.'Jane Eyre' is a story of unrequited love and passion and Marie expertly captured it's emotional drama. This reading also illustrated how our use and understanding of the English language has declined over the years. 

Jason Fitzgerald gave a wonderful speech entitled - "The Dash". While attending a commemoration ceremony for Thomas Ashe, Jason became fascinated by all the headstones, especially the line between the year of birth and the year of death - The Dash. What kind of lives did these people live? Did they make the most of the opportunities that life presented? More pertinently, do we make the most of the myriad of opportunities that our modern life presents us? This was a thoughtful rumination on the value of education to enhance our potential to make a difference. 

Finally, Pat Sexton delivered the TODD Box. This is a fictional box where we can place all our Smartphones, Ipads, Laptops and remotes to get a Timeout from Digital Devices. 
Being connected constantly is having a corrosive impact on our lives, intruding on our peace of mind and our interpersonal communications. A digital detox is no longer a luxury but an essential element of retaining our sanity. 

All speeches were rigorously and sensitively evaluated by Brendan Foley, Mary Moynihan, Michael Cronin and Claire O'Connell. The purpose of evaluations is to give the speakers affirmation for their efforts and pointers on how to improve future presentations. The mantra is - The more you speak, the more you improve! 

Topicsmaster Marie Lynes was the genial but persuasive discussion leader on a broad range of issues. "How do you react when someone tells you that you are making a scene?" was the  attention grabbing question. Money as the root of all evil had Gerry O"Callaghan bemoaning the cost of funerals and the notion of perfect happiness brought out the best in new member Larry Dowling. The Topics Session helps members to become comfortable with impromptu speaking - the art of speaking without a script - so valuable a skill in our daily lives. 

The General Evaluator, Anne O'Donovan, gave a positive assessment of the meeting and presented awards to Ray Ryan for his knowledge on Bismarck and Best Topic,  to Claire O'Connell for Best Evaluation and Jason Fitzgerald for Best Speaker. 

Recently, the European Soapbox Competition took place in Mallow Library. For the past five years, Mallow Library has been a Europe Direct centre and has hosted the Soapbox Competition. All the previous winners in the Adult section and have been Speakeasy members. This year is no exception as Jason Fitzgerald joins Brendan Foley, Pat Sexton and Bobby Buckley in the winners Hall of Fame. Jason spoke eloquently on the theme - "Brexit - Ireland's opportunity. 
Jason Fitzgerald.
Jason will now go forward to represent the Southern Region in the National Final in the Royal Kilmainham Hospital in Dublin in November. He will be joined by Marie Kelleher of Davis College, Mallow who emerged victorious in the under 19 category. We wish both Jason and Marie the best of fortune. 

Members of Speakeasy recently participated in the North Cork Area Final in Fermoy. Pat Sexton was overall winner of The Table Topics Contest with his response to the topic - What is your idea of perfect happiness?  Pat went  forward to the Division B (North Munster) Final in Limerick and also won that contest. Pat will represent the Division at the District Final in Sheffield, November 3rd. 

The next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting will have take place in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday November 2nd at 8.00 Pm. 

Regardless of the rain and storm, a warm front  of welcome will  be extended to all guests. Perhaps, you wish to learn a new skill and haven't got around to it yet, perhaps you are curious to see what we are all about or maybe you just want a good night out, then November 2nd is the date for your diary. 

For more information visit
Alternatively, contact Helsa Giles 083 8858848. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Club Contest Night.

 Night of Fun and Laughter!

Bob Dylan once sang -'It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry'. At last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters Humorous Speech contest there were no trains to be seen anywhere and there was certainly no tears, except tears of laughter.It was a night when imaginations ran riot and creativity shone brightly.

Six very brave Club Members took on the huge challenge of entertaining a large audience and boy,did they entertain! Costly coffee, cawing crows, coal bunkers converted into nuclear fallout shelters, hormonal cows, Christy Ring and communication blackouts were all thrown into a wonderful cocktail of humour and wit, greeted with generous appreciation of a capacity crowd in the Hibernian Hotel's Garden Room.

Under the guidance of Ann Buckley, genial MC for the evening, the comedy commenced with Brendan Foley's - 'Excuses, I've made a few'. He regaled his audience with the litany of excuses that insulated him from doing anything at all. From telling porkies to his teacher about having to convert the coal bunker into a nuclear fallout shelter as the reason for his lack of homework to the myriad of sporting injuries that excluded him doing anything useful, Brendan emerged as the genius of excuses!

Next up was Jason Fitzgerald with the tall tale -'Bridie's Julie won't  hold!' Jason, a recent recruit to the Club, related the sad tale of the Kerry farmer whose prize cow, Julie, refused to go back in the family way after a lifetime of producing calves. It was causing a huge nightmare for the AI technician whose wedding day was fast approaching! Would his nuptials be overshadowed by a frisky and extremely noisy cow? Jason's speech concluded with a wonderful punch line that brought all the strands of the story together, much to the audience's amusement.

Sean Corcoran gave us a scare with 'Terror in Two Pot House'. The terror began at 5AM every morning as a big old grey crow would tear his house apart.Despite Sean's best efforts,  the cawing pest wouldn't budge, it simply 'gave him the talon'.With greedy magpies and grey crows, poor old Sean's life has become a misery. But, would the story have a happy ending for the the noisy crow? Or did Sean jilt a woman in a previous lifetime who has returned to haunt him?

Next to the lectern was Michael Cronin with an equally sad story 'The trauma of being dumped'. He told us about his painful divorce from his Broadband provider! It seemed that for '3', his service provider,two was too many in their romance. 'It's not us,it's you', they told him. Now, he is trawling his farm to find the 4G spot in his relationship with his Broadband!  That place where he can say 'yes, yes, yes'. Alas, it seems the path to true love seldom runs true.

Bobby Buckley entertained us with -' A Corkonian in Dublin '. He spoke about his lack of a real Cork accent and how  he could go undetected in Dublin for all those decades. He attributed it to the Tipperary side of his family and described how the mere mention of Christy Ring,the 'Ronaldo' of Hurling would send his Tipperary comrades into a state of deep shock. He also eulogised Jimmy Barry Murphy - Cork's Lionel Messi - and how his daughter used a Hurley in a fashion that JBM wouldn't approve! Perhaps,the real reason he lay undetected in Dublin is that the Dubs are not the brightest!

Finally, Claire O'Connell, asked the burning question-'Where does my money go?' She gave us a weird and prudent insight into the world of personal finance,without mentioning Eddie Hobbs even once. Cups of coffee,clothes size and 'living with the parents' adults were all part of Claire's miserly modus operandi.Paschal O'Donoghue take note!

In conjunction with the Humorous Speech Contest, the Table Topics Contest  also took place. Without any prior notice,all contestants were obliged to address the question- 'Is retirement wasted on the old'? Bobby Buckley, Claire O'Connell,Ray Ryan, Pat Sexton, Sean Corcoran, Brendan Foley and Michael Cronin responded with different perspectives on the subject.Nevertheless, the words of Dylan Thomas came to mind as a common sentiment -'Do not go gently into the good night,but rage against the dying of the light'.

After two nail biting and exhilarating verbal jousts, white smoke emerged. In Table Topics, Pat Sexton emerged as winner,closely followed by the second placed Bobby Buckley.
                                               Table Topic Winners with Club President Helsa Giles.

In first place in the Humorous Speech Contest was Michael Cronin.The runner up was Sean Corcoran.These Contestants will now go forward to the North Cork Area Final which will be hosted by Fermoy Toastmasters Club. We wish all our competitors the best of luck.

                                                     Humorous Speech Contest Winners.

The prizes for this year's contests were kindly sponsored by Liam Flynn,Landscaping Services,Millstreet. We thank Liam for his continued generosity.

Normal service resumes at our next meeting on the 19th October in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00 PM. As always,a wide range of speeches will be presented on that night as members seek to acquire and fine tune their communication skills.The Speakeasy train leaves at every meeting and it is never too late to hop on board. Communication skills bring benefits in all aspects of life - at work or at home,in both frivolous and formal occasions, from the wedding reception to the retirement party, from the boardroom to the dressing room. If you are looking for 'something different' or merely curious, or just a good night's entertainment you are more than welcome at our Meetings. We look forward to seeing you on the 19th October.

For further information, visit or Facebook.Also, you can contact Helsa-083-8858848, or Anne - 087-7774604.

Monday, October 02, 2017

What's in a name

'What's in a name? That which we call a rose
Would by any other name smell as sweet'. Shakespeare.

A frequently asked question about our Toastmasters Club is about our name -Speakeasy.What is the story behind it and why? In 1992,when a Toastmasters Club was being established in Mallow, the aim was to have a Club to serve a very large portion of North Cork and beyond,from the Kerry Border in the West to Castletownroche in the East.Our aim was to choose a name that signified that we were open to members from all walks of life and from all parts for our catchment area, not just Mallow Town.
The members of our fledgling Club enthusiastically nominated a broad variety of names.
Some were symbolic,others nostalgic.The name 'Blackwater' suggested that speeches would flow, just like the river.'Majestic' evoked nostalgia for a famous dancing mecca. Avondhu reflected the GAA region of North Cork . However, Noel O'Regan wrote a wonderful letter advocating an unusual idea -Speakeasy.He cogently argued that Toastmasters would assist members to speak more easily  to 'speak easy' and that it implied that members might enjoy a beverage after a wonderful meeting.And so Speakeasy became our official name.To refute Shakespeare,a Club by any other name wouldn't sound as sweet!

Throughout our twenty five years,Speakeasy has drawn it's members from all over the North Cork area ,from all the outlying towns and villages be it  Ballyclough,Bweeng, Buttevant, Boherbue,  Castletownroche , Cecilstown, Dromahane, Doneraile,  Kanturk, Killavullen, Kiskeam ,Liscarroll and Newmarket. We come from all walks of life;farmers, teachers,chefs, sales reps and retirees. We come from different communities,we may support different GAA teams, but we all unite with one common aim in Speakeasy- to foster and develop good communication skills.Year after year,more members acquire a myriad of skills of speaking,listening and thinking. In turn,these skills prove enormously helpful in work situations and in leadership roles in voluntary organisations. .

As always, our doors are open to guests and new members. So if you have yet to witness the transformative power of Toastmasters in action,why not come along to our next meeting in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday, 19th October at 8.00PM.
For further information check out or contact PRO,
Pat Sexton-086/1564567.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Hairy women and bald men!

Hairy women and bald men!

'Once the mind is stretched by a new idea, it can never return to it's original state'. Albert Einstein.
The minds of the audience at the recent Toastmasters meeting were well and truly stretched by the quantity and diversity of ideas expressed that they will never again return to their previous condition! Five speakers covered a broad range of topics and styles from informative to creative to the reflective.As a guest remarked -'This is both educational and fun'.And all at the same time.'

The meeting commenced with Theresa O'Reilly presenting a sales presentation called Superchoice. This is not to be confused with a brand of cattle ration from Dairygold ,but rather a selection of food supplements that Theresa wished to market. In a relaxed style, Theresa articulated the 'Unique selling point' of her product.She also demonstrated her sales technique with the willing assistance of fellow member, Kieran Butler. If only all sales reps could be as non aggressive in their approach to customers!
Marie Connolly gave a beautifully reflective speech - A special place.She spoke about being a reluctant visitor to Medjegoria but finding herself totally entranced by the peace and tranquility of the place. She spoke movingly on the beauty to be found in the solitude and simplicity permeating her visit and how it helped her make important life decisions.
Don McSweeny delivered his talk called GYO or Grow your Own.With great amusement,he described how he read a lot of books on this and concluded that you couldn't grow anything in Ireland! But he took on board a sound piece of advice to put away the books and start planting! Soon he was learning to distinguish between potato stalks and weeds and how to compost.This was a wonderful 'down to earth' talk, appreciated by his many green fingered listeners.
'Donita Daval' was the title of Claire O'Connell's presentation.This was the bizarre and surreal story from the first three chapters of Donita's diaries. This creative and imaginative story had the audience in tears -of laughter! Her comment on hairy women brought the house down.
Continuing with the theme of hair, Ray Ryan spoke on 'Wigs'.With tongue in cheek,Ray brought us on a very enjoyable historical journey from Tutankhamen's hair-piece to King Louis the Thirteenth,from the Renaissance to the French Revolution.Did you know that women once shaved their heads and wore wigs? This was just one of the many wonderful trinkets of information that we learned from Ray's speech.They say that it is a very poor day,indeed, when you don't learn something new.A Toastmasters meeting can be a very rich night out with the ideas,information and inspiration that is on offer!

Each speaker was comprehensively evaluated by their assigned evaluator.Mary Buckley, John Brennan, Anne Buckley, Michael Cronin and Noel O'Connor gave both commendations and recommendations as they deemed appropriate to the speakers.This is the section of the meeting where members  can refine their communication skills and improve beyond recognition.

Liam Flynn from Millstreet was Topicsmaster .He ably conducted the impromptu section of the meeting.His topics ranged from the ploughing championship,to the Ryanair crisis,from a favourite smell to hitch-hiking.One outstanding contribution came from Marie Lynes who spoke about the distinctive hardware smell in Buckley Brothers in Mallow evoking childhood  memories of her parents' hardware shop in Newmarket.

At the meeting's conclusion, Bobby Buckley , General Evaluator lauded the contributions  from all members and guests who cooked up a tasty Speakeasy Toastmasters stew.He reminded guests that he was once in their shoes and was delighted that he jumped on board the Toastmasters train for a very enjoyable and rewarding journey. He awarded ribbons to Marie Lynes for Best Topic; Noel O'Connor for Best Evaluator; and Don McSweeny for Best Speech.

After two very successful meetings, Speakeasy returns on Thursday,5th October with our Annual Humorous Speech Contest.Lots of fun assured on the night.As always,we welcome guests to come along and experience Speakeasy. Like magic mushrooms, it might become addictive and remember that you will not be compelled to speak unless you really want to! Looking forward to seeing you in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM.
For further details visit or contact Helsa at 083-8858848.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Contest beckons!

A night of humour beckons!
> The Speakeasy Toastmasters Club will host their Annual Humorous Speech Contest on Thursday 5th October in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00pm.
> Charlie Chaplin famously remarked- 'That a day without laughter is a day wasted'. Well, your day and your night will not be wasted at this evening of humour and laughter.
> A number of speakers will pit their wit and joust their verbal swords to regale and entertain the audience. Speakeasy is usually a non competitive environment except for 2 meetings in the year, one in Spring for the International Speech Contest and in the Autumn for the Humorous Night.
> Speakeasy Toastmasters members have a proud and distinguished record in this competition. In 1995, Matt Lawlee won the British and Irish District Final with a brilliant speech about his fear of flying entitled - 'First and Last'. This feat was emulated by Michael Cronin in 2008 when he emerged victorious with his advisory speech- Feel the fear and blow it up anyway '.This hilarious speech told the sad story of his broken laptop and his attempts to fix it. 
> As well as winning this prestigious competition, both Matt and Michael also came close to winning on four other occasions between them. Gerry O' Callaghan was also a participant in the 2003 District Final with his eulogy to his pet rat called Toby. So, a humorous quip and a witty imagination is never far from the minds of Speakeasy members.
> In conjunction with the Humorous Contest,we will also host The Table Topics Contest. Mark Twain boasted that- 'It usually takes me more than 3 weeks to prepare a good impromptu speech'. In our contest, however, participants will speak on a subject on which they have no prior knowledge with about 30 seconds to organise their thoughts.
> Topics that have been used in previous contests include - 'Is it the taking part or the winning that matters?' and 'Congratulations, you have just won the lottery'. One of the most entertaining topics ever was the vexed question - 'Where would we be without the Kerryman'? This also promises to be a very enjoyable contest and a challenging experience for the contestants.
> So, put Netflix on pause, put Fair City on record and come along to a night of live entertainment at Speakeasy Toastmasters in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 7.45 for 8.00 Pm start. As always, guests will not asked to speak but can do so, if they wish.
> For more information on Speakeasy, check out our website You will also find recordings of some winning Humorous Speeches. You can also follow us on Facebook and Blog. 
> Further information from Pat Sexton, PRO,-0861564567.