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.