Sunday, December 30, 2018

New Year's Invitation

A New Year's Invitation!

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step" - Buddha.

It's that time of the year again when we reflect on our lives and we make resolutions.Usually, we decide to "lose" something,be it some weight or a bad habit. However,far more can be achieved by trying to "gain"something, to acquire a good habit or a new andvaluable skill.

January is also a time when we consider Adult Education Classes for our personal development.If you haven't done so already,have you ever considered acquiring or developing your communication skills?The ability to communicate with clarity and confidence is an invaluable life skill which can transform your life.There are many reasons why people wish to learn communication skills-to help improve their self- confidence; to help in job interviews and work presentations; to improve their leaderships skills and toenhance their social and conversational skills.Sometimes, gaining a new competency can be both satisfying and fun! There can be the "Yes! factor" that comes with acquiring a new skill.

Speakeasy Toastmasters has been to the forefront in providing communication training in the North Cork Area for 26 years . Since October 1992, when the first meeting was held in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow, Speakeasy has enabled it's members to flourish.Wedon't just train, we entertain. Our motto is - "we learn most in moments of enjoyment". Though our meetings appear formal,fun can be had. And,on many occasions,we have witnessed the "shy" and "introverted" members find their voices and soar with Toastmasters is self-paced. You speak when you feel that you are ready. Advice, encouragement and support is given to all members on the "how to" of speaking in front of an audience and enjoying it.

But, we are not just about speaking.We also listen. One of the most fascinating aspect of our meetings is the diversity of subjects discussed by various speakers.From the sublime to the ridiculous, from the profound to the preposterous,speeches presented at our forthrightly meetings are a constant source of fascination and enlightenment.
Liam Flynn, Sean Corcoran & Kieran Butler

So, if you are interested in gaining a new and vital skill why not pay us a visit?, Indeed one member, Liam Flynn, attended his first meeting in early January 2007, having read newspaper articles about our meetings and having his curiosity aroused.He took thefirst step, describing it as one of the best decisions of his life and the source of many enjoyable nights.So, make a resolution and make that first step by coming along to our first meeting of 2019. It takes place in The Hibernian Hotel ,Mallow on Thursday,10thJanuary at 8.00PM.
As always, guests are welcome and will not be obliged to speak unless they choose to do so.
For more information,please check out our website or follow us on Facebook.Alternatively,contact Helsa Giles 083-8858848.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Rachel lights up the Christmas meeting.

Delivering her maiden speech in Speakeasy, Rachel Liston gave a fascinating account of growing up in West Limerick. To a packed room of members and guests she recalled her fascination with the colours of everything - how the sky was blue and the grass was green and wondering why. This curiousity drove her interest in the Sciences and ultimately to a career in biochemistry.

Anne O'Donovan delivered a "re-introductory" speech. Delivering a talk of a personal nature, Anne spoke about her six years of involvement in Speakeasy and of how the new Pathways Programme offers her a fresh challenge.

Maria Connolly transported her audience back to warmer days. With a speech entitled - "Ireland's Gem", Maria painted a beautiful pen picture of West Cork and the Wild Atlantic Way. She showed by her well chosen examples - from Mizen Head to the Old Head of Kinsale, from Dursey Island to Sherkin Island - that West Cork is a place apart.

With his "After-dinner Speech", Brendan Foley became the grinch that stole Christmas or made it miserable for some."Minority rules" described how Brendan found himself preparing Christmas dinner for twelve people and then discovering that two were vegetarians! In a parallel universe, Brendan would have bent over backwards to accommodate their dietary requirements. In reality, they had to make-do with potatoes and vegetables! Outside of cooking and eating, Christmas Day can be boring, so he tries innovative ways to pass the time like winding up passive aggressive guests until they "lose it"!
Anne O'Donovan, Rachel Liston, Brendan Foley & Maria Connolly

Christmas cheer was in evidence everywhere else throughout the meeting. Kieran Butler, Toastmaster of the Evening, dressed the part with his Vercase designed festive jumper. The Topicsmaster, Liam Flynn, conducted a themed Topics Session on the Season.
In a year when #metoo dominared the headlines, he posed the question -"Is it time for a Mother Christmas?" He challenged his audience with the prospect of a Christmas dinner without turkey, ham or pudding. Other subjects covered included real or artificial trees, Billy Smart's Circus and the things we dread about Christmas. Gerry O'Callaghan responded to the question of favourite Seasonal songs by singing a verse of " Jingle Bells". 

At the meeting's conclusion, Claire O'Connell in her role as General Evaluator presented awards to Michael Donegan - Best Evaluator, Bridie O'Connell - Best Topic and Rachel Liston - Best Speaker. 

This was the final meeting of 2018. From Storm Emma to Storm Deirdre, it has been quite an eventful twelve months for Speakeasy Toastmasters. The Club celebrated it's Twenty-Fifth Anniversary in fine style. Initially stymied by snow storms, the celebratory night was a rip roaring success with ten of the best speakers presenting their memorable speeches. It was the year when several club members performed successfully at various Contests. In May,at the District Conference in Cork, Deirdre Linehan emerged victorious in the District 71 (Britain and Ireland) Final of the International Speech Contest with her exciting speech - "Dob's Army". Subsequently, she went on to participate in the World Championship Public Speaking Finals in Chicago. In the DistrictFinal of the Speech Evaluation Contest, Pat Sexton won the top prize.In the recent Division B (Munster)Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests Speakeasy were represented by Kieran Butler, Claire O'Connell, Pat Sexton and Ray Ryan. Pat Sexton emerged as Winner of the Table Topics Contest and will go forward to the District 71 Final in Norwich next May.

But, above all else, it has been a year of educational, entertaining and exhilarating meetings that embody the Speakeasy motto - We learn most in moments of enjoyment. Our First meeting of the 2019 takes place in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow on Thursday,10th January at 8.00PM. We look forward to seeing you then. In the meantime, Speakeasy Toastmasters wishes it's members, guests and readers of this column a Happy and Peaceful Christmas.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Deirdre receives Mayoral Award.

Speakeasy member, Deirdre Linehan received an Award at the Cork County Council Mayoral Reception which took place last week in the Cork County Hall.

Hosted by the Mayor of Cork County Council,Cllr. Patrick Gerard Murphy, the Mayoral Reception honours the remarkable achievers in Cork over the past year. Deirdre's award was in recognition of her achievement in winning the District 71 Final of the International Speech Contest and competing in the World Championship Public Speaking Finals in Chicago. Mallow featured prominently in the Ceremony with local golfer, James Sugrue, winning an award for his sporting prowess. The Mallow Lifesaving Team of 1968 received recognition of the 50th anniversary of winning the All Ireland and Water Safety President's Trophy.Speakeasy Toastmasters congratulates Deirdre and all the Mallow recipients on their achievements
Deirdre Linehan with Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy & Nicola Radley

Speakeasy will hold it's final meeting of the year in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday,13th December at 8.00PM. Even though the festive season is fast approaching, the meeting will be business as usual with an impressive array of speakers and evaluators. The skills of good communication aren't "just for Christmas" but are extremely useful all year round. Unlike other personal development courses or conventional night classes, it is never too late to start in the calendar year. Toastmasters is self-paced - the member decides the time to speak. With a New Year approaching, now it an appropriate opportunity to check out meaningful activity to add to the list of resolutions.

Guests are always welcome to come along to Speakeasy meetings to observe what happens. There are two guarantees - a good night's entertainment is assured and guests are never coerced into speaking unless they wish to do so. So, why not pay us a visit on Thursday night. For more information about Toastmasters please check out our or on Facebook.

Monday, December 03, 2018

Schools Public Speaking Contest

Grace grabs victory in Schools Public Speaking Competition.

Grace O'Brien won the Best Speaker Award at last week's Speakeasy Schools Public Speaking Competition.
Grace O' Brien with Speakeasy Club President Sean Corcoran

Representing Scoil Mhuire Kanturk, Grace delivered a powerful presentation on the dangers of sugar - "Alcohol to a child". This is the second year in succession that the Hibernian Hotel Best Speaker Perpetual Cup travels to Scoil Mhuire, following on from the success of Darragh Healy-Fitzgerald in 2017.

In Second Place was Sharon Campbell of Nagle Rice College, Doneraile with touching and emotional speech on -'Teenagers' Mental Health". Finishing a very creditable Third was Liam McSherry of Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachre Rathmore with an entertaining polemic - "The advertising industry is defining society".

In total, Contestants from seven schools presented speeches on a broad range of subjects - from the legalising of soft drugs and video violence to Donald Trump's ingenuity and ballet dancing. Participating schools included Scoil Mhuire and Colaiste Treasa, Kanturk, Davis College, Patrician Academy and St. Mary's Mallow, Nagle Rice College,Doneraile and Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachre Rathmore.In addition to the Individual Speaker Awards, the Best School Award was wondering by Nagle Rice College Doneraile represented by Conrad Werner and Sharon Campbell.
Nagle Rice Secondary School Doneraile, receiving the best overall school prize from Pat O' Mahony, Mallow Credit Union.

Speaking on behalf of the Competition Sponsors, Mallow Credit Union, Gerry O'Callaghan lauded the tremendous efforts of all participants, referring to them as "Winners".He spoke of how 
Mallow Credit Union was delighted to be a long term sponsor of this competition with it's focus on personal development and youth.

Speakeasy Toastmasters will host it's final meeting of the year in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday,13th December at 8.00PM. In keeping with the festivities of the season, it will be a meeting that will mix mulled wine and speeches. As always, guests are welcome to come along and witness what happens at a Speakeasy meeting. Indeed, with a New Year beckoning, why not avail of the opportunity to check out a very worthwhile activity to meet one's New Year's resolutions. Speakeasy Toastmasters enables it's members to master the skills of good communication through meetings that are both educational and entertaining. We look forward to seeing you on the 13th December.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Let the Contest begin!

The room is ready, the trophies are purchased, the contestants are rehearsing - the stage is set for the Speakeasy Toastmasters Schools Public Speaking Competition.

It takes place on this Thursday night in the Hibernian Hotel,Mallow at 8.00PM Sharp. Students from Schools in the North Cork area will participate.This year we are delighted to welcome Contestants from Mallow, Doneraile, Mitchelstown, Kanturk and Rathmore who will vie for the perpetual prize for Best Individual Speaker and the Best Team prize.

Previous winners include Lorcan Nyhan of the Patrician Academy, Kate Mc Sweeney of St. Mary's, Radek Zuk of Davis College and Darragh Healy-Fitzgerald of Scoil Mhuire,Kanturk. However, the Club ethos places huge value in participating. All competitors gains huge experience of confidence in communication through the preparation and practice they put into their presentations. Some of the themes covered by the speakers include sport, the sugar crisis and the challenges of teenage years. Serious themes and a dollop of humour for good measure will be on the menu.

The ability to communicate well is essential in everyday life - be it for job interviews, work presentations and in social situations. Yet, many people find the challenge of "speaking up" to be both daunting and nerve wracking. Speakeasy Toastmasters helps it's members to overcome their nervousness and to get their message across with both style and confidence. Our Schools Public Speaking Competition provides a wonderful opportunity to it's participants to acquire good speaking skills. Nevertheless, all our meetings provide our members with the opportunity to find their "voices".

In other news, the Division B (Munster) Final of the Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests took place in the Charleville Park Hotel last Sunday. Speakeasy was ably represented in the Humorous Contest by Kieran Butler and Claire O'Connell. Both presented strong performances which were met with laughing approval by a large attendance. But the top prize eluded both. Instead, Sean Dwan of Nenagh Toastmasters was crowned Champion Speaker with his recollections of his dance hall days- "Bad Moon Rising".Second place went to Jane Sheehan, Killarney Toastmasters with her take on Kerry football-"Passion".

In th
e Table Topics Contest, Ray Ryan and Pat Sexton were presented with a very unusual conundrum- "Which of the Seven Dwarfs represent you - Grumpy, Happy, Bashful, Doc, Sleepy, Sneezy and Dopey?" In a close contest, with much mirth ensuing, Pat Sexton emerged victorious with Emily Sexton of Raheen Toastmasters in the runner-up position. Sean and Pat will go forward to represent the Division in the District 71 (Britain and Ireland) Finals in Norfolk, England next May.

Speakeasy Meetings are open to guests and visitors. If you are interested in seeing what we are all about, please pay us a visit. Guests are never coerced into speaking unless they wish to do so. For more information, please check out our website or on Facebook.

Monday, November 19, 2018

What annoys you most?

A relaxed Table Topics Session at last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting was thrown on it's head by one very simple question - What annoys you most? It didn't really matter that the respondent, Mary Buckley gave calm advice about "letting it go", the genie was out of the bottle! There is something about people's behavior when they sit in the driver's seat and turn on the ignition that raises the hackles of others. Speakeasy members spoke at length and with passion about inconsiderate motorists who take up Disabled Driver spaces, Sunday drivers on a Monday morning, tailgating and SUV drivers !

But, after so much heat, there was light - candle light, as Bridie O'Connell reminisced about Christmas past when decorations didn't appear until December and the symbol of the Season was the simple candle. Jillian Harris spoke about her imaginary book launch on her book on fine wines. The issue of epitaphs elicited several responses -" I haven't gone away, you know!" But we were graced with one  contributor who spoke profoundly about  a family member who is terminally ill and is having "that conversation" about the end of life and an acceptance of mortality.

Epitaphs featured in one of the prepared speeches as Pat Sexton spoke on the life and artistry of Leonard Cohen.Entitled -"Laughing Lenny - an appreciation". The speech dealt with the multiple ironies in Cohen's extraordinary career with had a spectacular final act as he returned to touring at the age of seventy-four to be greeted by adoring audiences the world over. His epitaph could well be drawn from his most famous song - "Hallelujah", which has been covered over 300 times. It reads - " Even though it all went wrong, I stand before the Lord of Song, with nothing on my tongue except Hallelujah".

Verna Byrne spoke on art of a different kind with a beautiful speech on the the turbulent life and times of Vincent Van Gogh. "From Sunflowers to Starry Night" chronicled his many failures in life as an art-dealer, language teacher and preacher before he took up his paint brushes at the age of twenty-seven. Despite chronic mental illness, he painted over 2,000  art works in his ten years as a painter. It is deeply ironic that the most famous Dutch Painter sold just one painting during his life.

Theresa O'Reilly presented 'Pathways", a talk on the new Toastmasters Education Programme. With great enthusiasm, she highlighted the advantages of the new Programme and exhorted members and guests to "give it a go".

Where do speakers get ideas for speeches? Noel O'Connor provided some wonderful suggestions in his presentation - " Selecting a topic". The best ideas are based on our experiences. Be receptive to ideas that are all around us and,most importantly of all, keep a notebook handy "to write it down".
Pat Sexton, Verna Byrne, Theresa O' Reilly & Noel O' Connor
At the meeting's conclusion,the General Evaluator paid tribute to the Toastmaster of the Evening, Don McSweeney and to the Topicsmaster, Marie Lynes for their contributions to a hugely entertaining and informative meeting. Awards were presented to Theresa O'Reilly - Best Speaker, Kieran Butler- Best Evaluator and Bridie O'Connell - Best Topic.

At our next meeting,the Annual Schools Public Speaking Competition takes place. We are delighted to welcome participants from a range of schools in the North Cork area. It promises to be a wonderful occasion. As always, guests are very welcome. It takes place on Thursday,29th November at 8.00PM in the Hibernian Hotel,Mallow.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Kieran Butler of Speakeasy Toastmasters emerged as Winner in the North Cork Area Final of the Humorous Speech Contest which was hosted by Fermoy Toastmasters. In front of a large audience the Cecilstown native dazzled with his quick with and confessional style as he told the sad tale of his"Development". To great amusement, he outlined his addiction to all forms of courses and classes - from foreign languages to under-graduate modules and the "crystal meth" of his obsession - The Masters Degree! His attempts at going " cold turkey" were stymied by watching reruns of Love Island,Big Brother and Gogglebox.

Claire O'Connell of Doneraile finished as runner-up with her curious tale of her love affair with " Cal Sharp". This was a hugely imaginative story of an improbable relationship with her calculator.They didn't have chemistry - only arithmetic! It all added up to a very entertaining performance.
Eilis Ni Bhriain, Claire O' Connell, Kieran Butler & Helsa Giles.

Kieran and Claire will now go forward to represent Speakeasy at the Munster Division Final in Charleville Park Hotel on Sunday,25th November. Accompaining Kieran and Claire on that occasion will be Pat Sexton and Ray Ryan who finished First and Second respectively in the Area Final of the Table Topics Contest. Contestants we're challenged to address the question - TV Soaps - do they reflect reality or are they pure fantasy? There was much discussion on the detrimental aspects of Soaps and the smugness they induce - our lives couldn't possibly be as miserable as those lived by the Soap characters!
Eilis Ni Bhriain, Pat Sexton, Ray Ryan & Helsa Giles.

The next meeting of Speakeasy Toastmasters Club will take place on Thursday,15th November in the Hibernian Hotel,Mallow at 8.00PM.If you are interested in mastering the skills of good communication, interested in a good night's entertainment or merely curious about Toastmasters, why not pay us a visit? Guests are always welcome.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Speakeasy Toastmasters to host Schools Public Speaking Competition.

Speakeasy Toastmasters Club are delighted to announce that their 13th Annual Schools Public Speaking Competition will take place on Thursday 29th 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 (15/16 years old) in the three 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 who provided perpetual trophies for Individual and Team winners. We are extremely grateful for their continued support.

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 have graced this competition.Withoutexception, it is the highlight of our Toastmasters season.

Each year, students continue to inspire with their creativity, enthusiasm and humour. Topics selected range from the serious to the sublime, from the issue of consent to the joy of rugby, from fashion to peer pressure, from bullying to the joy of being a"goth".Reflecting the diversity that now prevails in our schools, our competition reflects the diversity of a multicultural Ireland. We hold fond memories of Davis College student, Radek Zuk who talked himself to victory in 2009 with his hilariousaccount 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. Last year's contest was ,arguably, the finest yet. The winning school was Scoil Treasa, Kanturk and the Best individual Speaker was Darragh Healy-Fitzgerald of Scoil Mhuire, Kanturk with a wonderful presentation- "Birds of a feather stereotype together".

As part of the Schools Public Speaking Project, members of Speakeasy , Marie Fitzpatrick, Michael Cronin and Pat Sexton run Speaking Courses in Mallow,Kanturk and Doneraile. Moreover, members of the Club act as adjudicators for School's DebatingCompetitions.A significant amount of adverse publicity is directed towards today's youth. Our Schools Public Speaking Competition tells an entirely different story. It illustrates the positive contribution that young people make to our community.If you wish to be inspired by the leaders of tomorrow, the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday,29th November is the place to be.
In other news, the Area 17 (North Cork) Finals of the Humorous Speech and Table
Topics Contests took place in Fermoy. It was a rewarding night for the Speakeasy 
representatives as they emerged as winners in both events. In the Humorous Contest
Kieran Butler was declared Winner with his speech-"Development". Claire O Connell 
finished in the runner-up position with her tale of love -"Cal Sharp". In the Table Topics 
Contest participants were challenged to address the question -" TV Soaps like Emmerdale Farm, East Enders and Fair City- do they reflect reality or are they pure
fantasy?" In the final judgement, Pat Sexton emerged as Winner with Ray Ryan in 
second place.All four Speakeasy contestants will go forward to compete in the
Division B (Munster)Finals in Charleville on Sunday,25th November.

The next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting takes place in the Hibernian Hotel,
Mallow on Thursday,15th November at 8.00PM. If you would like an evening of 
entertainment,reflection and inspiration, why not pay us a visit. Guests are always 
welcome and are never "pounced on" to speak, unless they wish to do so.For more
information,please check out our website or on

Monday, November 05, 2018

An abundance of angels.

Members of Speakeasy Toastmasters Club and welcome guests were treated to an inspiring meeting last Thursday night. Courage in times of adversity was a recurring theme through many of the contributions on the night.

Ann Nyhan presented a powerful Ice-breaker speech - "Angels in my life". She spoke eloquently of " human Angels"- the people who help us at crucial times in our lives by offering listening ears and good advice.She referred to her father who instilled in her an appreciation of learning and a teacher who encouraged her to become an Irish teacher. She acknowledged the support and advice she received at a time when a significant and traumatic event impacted on her family. She quoted Peig Sayers - " Are scath a cheile, a mhaireann na daoine".(People live in each other's shelter).

Don McSweeney gave a fascinating demonstration on the changing of the Season's.Inspired by the passing of Autumn, "a time of mellow fruitfulness" and armed with a football,a balloon, a globe and a fire iron, Don physically illustrated the Earth's orbit around the Sun. His visual demonstration explained the importance that the 23 degree angle of the Earth's axis has on our hours of daylight throughput the year.One member of the audience remarked - " If only it was demonstrated this clearly when I was in school".

Patricia Buckley gave an uplifting and entertaining speech - "First day in school". She recalled her first day outfit of a canary yellow jumper and ribbons in her hair,held in place by clips.To much amusement,she spoke of her ever protective mother got into an argument with the teacher before the class began! And then, the class commenced with the Irish alphabet and a life long struggle with our national tongue began. But, Patricia stuck to her guns and emerged triumphantly with a good Primary Exam result.

Jillian Harris spoke of life's changing circumstances in her presentation - " Moving house - the sequel". Throughout her childhood and her adult life, the suitcase has been a constant companion. Her father's job as a Bank Manager,including a spell in Mallow in the Seventies, necessitated a lot of upheaval.Her backpack took her to Australia in the eighties and myriad of temporary locations thereafter. But, now it seems Mallow has become her home once again, as her life has turned full circle.
 Jillian Harris, Don McSweeney, Patricia Buckley & Ann Nyhan. 

Toastmasters is associated with speaking. However, it is also a fascinating listening experience and an insight into people's lives and their experiences.Meetings like last week are an enriching experience for the listener, as well as a learning experience for the speakers. The audience's experience was enriched even more by a highly entertaining Topics Session. Under the guidance of Anne O'Donovan, members got to grapple with subjects like childhood memories of Halloween, Ireland's fittest family,your first dance or disco and the Presidential election.

Bobby Buckley regaled us with his response to the topic - "Are you happy with your name?" This subject elicited a huge response on the significance of a name and the changing trends of names.We were fascinated to learn that the name"Verna" comes from the Vernal equinox, March 22nd.
Area Director, Helsa Giles addressed the meeting on the significance of Toastmasters in her life .She spoke of the sense of inclusion she experienced in Speakeasy and the golden rule of contribution - whatever you put it you get out and then some. She commended the Club for it's warm, friendly athmosphere and the growth in new members who have recently joined.

At the meeting's conclusion, awards were presented to Ann Nyhan - Best Speaker; Marie Lynes - Best Evaluator and Don McSweeney - Best Topic.

The next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting takes place in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday 15th November at 8.00 PM. As always, guests are welcome and are never coerced into speaking unless they wish to do so.
For more information please check out our website or on Facebook.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Words of encouragement

Words of encouragement.

A frequently asked question by readers of this column is " What is evaluation all about?" In our everyday lives, we are constantly evaluating. In other words, we assess or analyse what we see and hear.We make judgements on issues that we experience. In Toastmasters, we evaluate with a very specific purpose - to encourage and motivate the speaker to improve.

Every time a member presents a speech at a Toastmasters meeting, an evaluator is assigned help the speaker.The evaluator discusses the objectives that the speaker is working towards and is conscious of the speakers level of competence and experience.A good evaluation enables the speaker to develop their communication skills with confidence.

At a Toastmasters meeting, the evaluator will present an oral presentation of how the speaker has performed. The strenghts of the speaker will be highlighted by the evaluator. Moreover,  a few areas where the speaker can improve will be prescribed. The motto of evaluations is "Commend, Recommend, Commend". The emphasis is always on helping the speaker to grow in confidence and competence.
Evaluators at our last meeting, Noel O'Connor, Helsa Giles,Ray Ryan, Bridie O'Connell & Don McSweeney.

Since it's inception, Speakeasy Toastmasters has been rigorous in upholding a high standard of evaluations, conducted in a positive manner and conducive to assisting Club members. Confidence is key to good communication and positive, helpful evaluations helps a speaker to grow in confidence and blossom as a communicator.

If you wish to witness first hand the relationship between speakers and evaluators, why not pay us a visit at our forthnighy meetings. The next meeting takes place on Thursday, 1st November in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.pmMeetings are always both educational and entertaining. Our Club slogan is - " We learn most in moments of enjoyment". Guests are welcome and are never obliged to speak unless they wish to do so.

For more information about our Club please check out our website or on Facebook.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Decluttering your life.

"In the event of a fire, what precious items would you salvage from your house before you escape?"This was the challenging question posed by Marie Fitzpatrick in her wonderful presentation at last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting. Entitled "Minimalism", Marie encouraged her audience to stock take the items that surround them to ascertain what is useful and what is clutter.Do you have a jar of biros that don't write? Or meat knives that won't cut butter? Or wardrobes of clothes that are never worn? If so, it is time to clear your house and create much needed head -space.

Advice was in plentiful supply too in Kevin O'Neill's speech - "The perfect interview". Imagining his audience as a group of College students, Kevin asserted the importance of first impressions - " you never get a second chance to make a first impression".He stressed the necessity to " be the best version of yourself"and how it is essential to show knowledge and interest in the company.Ultimately, a positive approach is the best way of making a good impression.

John Brennan gave a fascinating talk on Daylight Saving Time. "Turn back time" dealt extensively with the history and the rationale behind the twice yearly changing of the clock. Initially championed by the English builder, William Willett, who argued that the efficiencies were worthwhile, wartime Germany was the first Country to introduce"daylight savings"as a means to improve production in munitions factory and to reduce coal consumption. Recently, the European Union has conducted a review of this topic and have suggested discontinuing the practice. With the advent of Brexit, it could mean two different time zones on the island of Ireland!

Speakeasy was privileged to have two Ice-breaker speeches at our meeting.Presenting her first speech in the Club, Margaret O'Keeffe, spoke about "My life to this day", outlining her path through school and college.She spoke about her interest in Science and nature and her fondness for holidays in Ireland.

Gordon Sharp-Bolster spoke about "American Passport".He led his audience on a journey from New England to New York to the State of Virginia in the"antebellum South".He worked in Citibank and Time Warner before moving to Castlemaginer outside the town of Kanturk. He spoke humorously about his exploits as a saxophone player and his love of sailing on OPBs - other people's boats! With a rich and varied back story, it seems that Gordon only broke the tip of the iceberg!
Kevin O' Neill, Margaret O' Keeffe, John Brennan, Marie Fitzpatrick & Gordon Sharp-Bolster

All the speeches were subsequently evaluated in a comprehensive and sensitive fashion by the assigned evaluators - Ray Ryan, Noel O'Connor, Bridie O'Connell, Helsa Giles and Don McSweeney.

Claire O'Connell assumed the of Topics Master for the evening. Her topics ranged from the fluffy and light hearted to darker themes.The issues of artificial sweeteners, beards, conversations with pets rubbed shoulders with questions on consent, homelessness and car parking. A topic that received several nods of approval was -  to what Charity would you donate all your lottery winnings?
At the meeting's conclusion, awards were presented to the Best Speaker - John Brennan; Best Evaluator - Bridie O'Connell and Best Topic - Pat Sexton.

With the imminent changing of the clock, we will have a longer evening which means there is more time for Toastmasters! And as the dust settles on Halloween, the next meeting of Speakeasy Toastmasters takes place on Thursday,1st November in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM. As always, guests are welcome to attend any of our meetings and are never coerced into speaking unless they wish to do so.Looking forward to seeing you. For more information about Toastmasters, please check out our website or on Facebook.

Monday, October 15, 2018

No longer invisible

"No longer invisible'.

This is the testimony of a Toastmasters member.

"All my life it seemed that I was invisible.In school,in the dressing room at a match and at work. It wasn't because I didn't have anything to say. Quite the opposite,in fact. I was tongue-tied. Often I would discreetly make suggestions that were taken on board and proved to be effective in the workplace. When I gained a significant promotion, it was put to me that public presentations would be part of my brief and that I needed to step forward.

I considered a Public Speaking Course but then I became aware of a Toastmasters Club in my locality and resolved to attend a meeting. At the door, I was warmly welcomed and reassured that I wouldn't have to speak. I found the standard of the speeches extremely high and the part of the meeting devoted to "the Topics Session" to be both fascinating and daunting. The President of the Club, who spoke  to me during  the tea break, advised me to attend a few meetings and "get a feel" for the Club. At the next meeting, I witnessed an "Ice-breaker" speech.It was a pretty straightforward speech and it showed me that delivering such a speech was achievable. I resolved to "give it a shot".

I was very impressed by the "evaluation" of my speech.The evaluator acted as a mentor, proving to be both motivational and supportive as I prepared for my Ice-breaker. I delivered that vital speech and lived to tell the tale! Over the next three years, I have given another 10 speeches, becoming a "Competent Communicator". Much to my surprise I began to enjoy the Topics Session and became adept at speaking around a subject. Some people might call that "bluffing".My confidence grew to such an extent that I competed in a Speech Contest last year.My work presentations are no longer an ordeal to be endured by both audience and speaker. In fact,I now enjoy them. I firmly believe that the Toastmasters approach can help anyone who wishes to overcome their anxiety about speaking up.Because I made that vital first step and attended a Toastmasters meeting, I believe I am no longer invisible".

If you wish to see what happens at a meeting, why not come along to our next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting which takes place in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00 PM. Guests are always welcome and are never cajoled into speaking unless they wish to do so.
For more information about our Club, please check out our website or on Facebook. Alternatively, you can contact President, Sean Corcoran -086-6054784.

Monday, October 08, 2018

A night of laughter!

If laughter is the best medicine,then a lot of people were cured at last week's Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contests at Speakeasy Toastmasters. In front of a full house, 7 Contestants crossed verbal swords to the sound of laughter and loudguffaws.

Claire O'Connell commenced proceedings with a hilarious account of her "somewhat unusual" relationship with her pocket calculator! Entitled " Cal Sharp", Claire regaled us with tales of her obsession with that little electronic device and her ability to "turn him on" by pushing the right buttons, her nights of fun getting the accounts to "add up". To "sum it all up", Claire proved that accountants have a healthy sense of humour.

Sean Corcoran entertained us with his clever offering called "The Spit". Coming from an unremarkable family that had no relatives who fought in the G.P.O.or the World Wars or even emigrated to America, all was quiet in the Corcoran family until they decided to investigate the 1901 Cenus which unearthed a few cousins very close to home! And then, they decided to provide a DNA sample to trace down any celebrity cousins that might exist. And here is the rub - that very same saliva sample opens up a Pandora's Box of privacy issues.Big Brother has it covered!

Waiting patiently in a queue was the theme of Michael Cronin's speech -"The Long Wait". Michael detailed the agony of being a blood donor at Mallow Racecourse - watching yourself grow old while answering questions about "having contact with a baboon in South West Africa". Indeed,if the answer is affirmative to any of the last questions on the questionnaire, it means that you have lived a "full life". But, it's all worth it for Michael as he is rewarded with a packet of crisps!

"Development" was the theme of Kieran Butler's presentation.To much amusement,he confessed his dangerous addiction to self-development courses. Be it online language tutorials or under graduate courses, Kieran cannot resist getting "a hit". His attempts at cold turkey have proved futile as he broke down while binge watching Love Island, Big Brother and Gogglebox! Can he resist further temptation?

In the Table Topics Contest, Brendan Foley, Michael Cronin,Pat Sexton, Ray Ryan and Claire O'Connell confronted the topical question - "Is the role of the President of Ireland still relevant"? The various contributions on the topic wouldn't provide much consolation to the contenders in the race for the Aras.

While the judges' ballots we're being counted, Topicsmaster Anne Buckley led a highly entertaining Topics Session on the theme of laughter and the Irish sense of humour.
Marie Fitzpatrick & Anne Buckley
When White Smoke was eventually seen, Kieran Butler was declared the winner of the Humorous Speech Contest with the runner-up spot going to Michael Cronin.In the Table Topics Contest, Ray Ryan was the winner, with Pat Sexton in second place.These four contestants will go forward to represent Speakeasy at the North Cork Area Final in Fermoy on Tuesday,6th November.
Kieran Butler, Michael Cronin, Marie Fitzpatrick Ray Ryan & Pat Sexton. 

Meanwhile,the Speakeasy Meeting Season continues unabated. It is never too late to take the vital first step and come along to our meetings.Overcome your shyness, become an accomplished communicator and grow in confidence - all these and morecan be achieved in Toastmasters.We look forward to seeing you on Thursday,18th October in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM.As always, guests are welcome and are never coerced into speaking unless they wish to do so.

For more information about Toastmasters, please check out our website, or on Facebook. Alternatively,you can contact Club President, Sean Corcoran -086-6054784.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Fragrant memories of Mallow!

At last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting, Gerry O'Callaghan was asked about what smell reminded him of his childhood. With a glint of mischief in his eyes, he spoke about his daily stroll around Mallow and stopping outside a well knowncoffee shop in Market Square where he took in the beautiful aroma - not of coffee but of memories of the piggery that his family had in that area when he was a child! All these years later,Gerry still recalls an unmistakable and unforgettable fragrance.

This is just an example of the magic that can happen during a Topics Session at a Speakeasy meeting. The notion of speaking "off the cuff" is one that many readers and Toastmasters members find daunting. Yet, we do it all the time in our daily lives and finding ourselves,after a conversation has concluded, wishing "I had said that when I had the chance".Table Topics gives members the opportunity to enhance their impromptu speaking skills.Like all aspects of Toastmasters, we learn by doing.And, the more frequently we do it, the more accomplished we become. The Topics Session helps us to speak more confidently in social situations, in work presentations and at interviews.

Ably conducted by Noel O'Connor, last week's Topics Session encompassed a broad discussion on several issues. The subject of children being assigned household chores, elicited strong responses about "helicopter parents" whose good intentions deny their children the chance to learn self-reliance and resilience. Drowning in a sea of plastic provoked multiple responses on the importance of recycling and on questionable practices by retailers.Is it really necessary to sell fruit and vegetables in plastic packaging? Self-development featured prominently with topics on time management and night classes. Indeed,it was mentioned that the most rewarding night class to partake in is a Toastmasters Club - life long learning at it's best.Outdoor pursuits in the fine weather like mushroom foraging were name checked and the thorny subject of Greenways and private property rights resulted in another meaningful discussion. Such was the level of involvement in the Topics Session, guests became involved, enhancing the evening with their contributions. At the meeting's conclusion,the award for Best Topic went to the aforementioned Gerry O'Callaghan.

Table Topics will take centre stage at our next meeting.In conjunction with the Annual Humorous Speech Contest, the Table Topics Contest will take place. Here, the challenge for participants is to walk into the room and respond to the chosenTopic and display the skills of an impromptu speaker - composure, confidence and coherency. Contest night's are always a great night to visit our Club.You will be guaranteed entertainment and refreshments and a few good laughs.

Guests are always made feel welcome at our meetings and are never obliged to speak unless they wish to do so. We look forward to seeing you at the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday,4th October at 8.00PM.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Night of humour beckons

A night of humour beckons
Speakeasy  toastmasters Club is hosting it's annual Humorous Speech Contest on Thursday,4th October at 8.00PM. Since the Club's inception, the Humorous Contest has occupied a special place in the Club's calendar, providing members with the opportunity to regale their audience and make them laugh. The contest is not a stand - up comedy routine with a bunch of one-liners strung together.The aim is to present a speech that is humorous in nature.

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

In conjunction with the Humorous Contest,the Club will also stage the Table Topics Contest. Here, the contestants are challenged to give an impromptu response to a topic with points awarded for content,logic, relevance to the topic and delivery.Both the winners and runners up in each contest will go forward to participate in the North Cork Area Final which take place in late October.

At last week's meeting, members were treated to a wonderful array of speeches, overflowing with challenging ideas, fascinating detail and humour. Ray Ryan presented "A re-introduction". Like many members of the Club, Ray is participating in the new Toastmasters Programme - "Pathways" and presenting an Ice-breaker speech again.With a dollop of understated humour,he spoke of his "dancing achievements" and his role as a magician's assistant. He described his fascination with astronomy and "the beauty of the stars shining against the blackness of the night sky".Ray spoke too about his various employments and what the future may hold. If, as seems likely, Ray moves on to pastures new, his contributions to Speakeasy has been immense.

John Sherlock of Fermoy Toastmasters presented a stark potrait on the constant erosion of our privacy with his speech - "The numbers are in - 1984 is here!" He cited the many everyday examples of how we leave an indelible mark of our activities - from Credit Cards, Barcodes to mobile tracking devices that are our Smartphones. It poses the question - is exchanging our personal privacy for the benefits of modern technology a price too high to pay?

The price we pay was also the theme of Don McSweeney's speech - "Biodiversity".Who would have thought that the Spider Monkey in the jungle in Borneo plays a huge role in the Earth's continued existence? Don provided fascinating examples of the interaction between the earth's species and the corrosive impact of human intervention .It is estimated that about half of the species alive in 1970 exist today as mankind continues to kill, chop and eat it's way through the Earth's resources. Is the survival of the Planet at risk because of human behavior?

By way of light relief, Kieran Butler spoke about "Addiction".He confessed in moving, graphic and hilarious detail of " Breaking Bad" with his addiction to self-development.
Be it courses,classes,online tutorials and under graduate degrees, Kieran is hooked. Initially,he dabbled but now has become a hard core self-improvement junkie.He has gone cold turkey but alas, despite watching "Love Island"found himself succumbing once again to his cravings! Another class beckons and like Oscar Wilde he finds out that the best way to resist temptation is to yield to it.
Don McSweeney, John Sherlock, Anne O'Donovan, Ray Ryan & Kieran Butler.

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

And so ended another highly satisfactory and entertaining Speakeasy meeting.More fun will follow at our Humorous Speech night.If you haven't been to Toastmasters or if you would like a good night's entertainment, why not drop along to The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday, October 4th at 8.00PM? Indeed, bring a friend and double the fun. Guests are never obliged to speak, unless they wish to do so.Looking forward to seeing you.

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

Monday, September 17, 2018

Week 2

Don’t get trapped in a routine. The secret of success is to practice what you are not good at. Get uncomfortable. A sport’s man, when asked to identify the secret of his success, replied ’I practiced what I was not good at’ All successful people both in and out of Toastmasters have had to overcome obstacles in life. What determines their ability to transcend those obstacles and fears is a great willingness to stretch their comfort zones. In a Toastmaster’s Club your comfort zone is measured by the speeches you give and the assignments you take on. Successful Toastmasters have one thing in common – they form the habit of THOROUGH PREPARATION and ACTIVE LISTENING. Those who clock watch and day dream do not get far.

Your habits reflect your personality. They influence how you dress; walk; sit; smile and laugh. As part of your internal makeup most habits are formed early in life. By adulthood those habits are much easier to follow than change. If you want to be more successful both in and out of Toastmasters, you must make an effort to reject stagnation, and form habits of self improvement. To evaluate your personal habits – ask yourself
  • Do successful happy people seem to enjoy my company.
  • Do others seek my advice
  • Do I continue to grow through careful reading and exposure to stimulating ideas.
  • Do I surround myself with positive uplifting influences.
  • Do I usually feel good about myself
  • Do I look for new ways to improve my speaking, writing, and listening skills
Remember a lack of time is almost always a lack of organization and management. The ability to invest time wisely is a habit acquired through deliberate choice. Success requires passion and is governed by the laws of habit. To develop habits, one must have an objective. It is never the strength of a goal that will make you do anything in life. It is the strength of the purpose behind it. If your goal in life is to make money to put bread on the table, then that is all you will do. This standard requires you to cross the finish line only because it exists. In order to achieve a far greater level of success, you must have passion to go the distance. So finally “Never be content with what you are, if you want to be what you are not”
After that PARTY POLITICAL BROADCAST - the party being Speakeasy Toastmasters – let me turn to the immediate. Speakeasy Toastmasters will hold their next meeting at the Hibernian Hotel, next Thursday Sept. 20th and on  alternate Thursdays, at 7.50 for and 8.00 pm start. Do call in to see what is going on. You will be most welcome. We have a full and varied programme, and the usual delicious ‘cuppa’ at the interval.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

It all began here

Last Thursday night's meeting of Speakeasy Toastmasters Club was a night of beginnings - the beginning of a new season of meetings,a beginner speech in the new educational programme "Pathways", and a reminder of where it all begins.

Addressing the large turnout, Deirdre Linehan, District 71 Speech Contestant , spoke about her incredible journey to the World Championships Public Speaking Semi-Final in Chicago. Though qualification for the World Final proved elusive, Deirdre spoke of her satisfaction at her performance of her speech, "Dob's Army".

"It all began in here", stressed Deirdre, referring to Speakeasy Club meetings where Deirdre became accustomed to the challenges of speaking in front of an audience. Whether it is at a big speech contest or speaking before a small group at work, the training received at Toastmasters enables the speaker to perform with confidence.Deirdre thanked the members of both the Speakeasy and Failte Toastmasters Clubs for their support and Speakeasy member Tony O'Regan for his coaching.Deirdre pointed out that the top three placings in The World Final went to women, a unique first.
Deirdre Linehan (2nd from left) at the International Speech semi-final, held in Chicago

Club President, Sean Corcoran lauded Deirdre's spectacular performances and commented on how she did District 71 proud in Chicago.And, then it was business as usual as Speakeasy members delivered another top notch meeting.

Marie Lynes gave an entertaining and fascinating account on "The Pirish". This was the phrase she coined to describe the small but growing Polish- Irish community. Inspired by the arrival of baby William to her extended family, Marie decided to research facts and traditions of the Polish nation.She was advised not to learn the Polish language - " even the Poles don't know the Polish language. And, as for grammar, well  life is too short". Historically, Poland and Ireland have much in common.Both have endured invasion.But Poland has the oldest Constitution in Europe - established in 1791 and celebrated annually on Constitution Day - the 3rd May. Their funerals may be dour affairs but their weddings are sumptuous occasions with seven courses, punctuated with dancing.Their celebration of Christmas is equally elaborate with a twelve course dinner and an empty space to symbolise a welcome for strangers. With over a Hundred Thousand Poles now resident in this country, Marie concluded that the two cultures have more that unites that divides them.

With a speech entitled - "That's why I'm here", Pat Sexton went back to the start with an Ice - Breaker speech.In beginning once again, Pat asserted that the reasons were the same - to improve his communication skills.Speaking before an audience is an acquired skill.The more frequently you do it, the more proficient you get.Moreover, you grow I'm confidence and feel more comfortable about speaking in public.

Liam Flynn delivered a fascinating talk on " The Man who saved the world".Liam painted a chilling picture of the world teetering on the edge of extinction during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October,1962. With the island of Cuba, surrounded by American warships and Russian submarines circling the warships, it seemed that " Mutually Assured Destruction' was inevitable.American and Russian diplomats tried to talk their way back from the brink as the whole world held it's breath. Meanwhile, a Russian submarine,B59, and armed with a Nuclear warhead was circling underwater, outside of radio contact.Falsely believing that war had broken out, it fell on the shoulders of one man -Vasili Arkhipov - to exercise his power to veto the Commander's order to fire their lethal weapon . Instead, he insisted that the submarine should rise to the surface and check out the situation.In the brief time it took the vessel to surface, Russia agreed to withdraw their missiles. And so, world destruction was averted by seconds and the bravery of one man -Vasili Arkhipov.

Less pressing matters were discussed by Claire O'Connell in "Killarney Blues". Humour has been described as moments of chaos recalled in tranquility. Claire detailed the friends and events of her time spent in Killarney working as a waitress.Some friendships last for life, others are temporary while some can be rather strange indeed.

A unique feature of all Toastmasters meetings is the 'Topics Session". Ably led by Theresa O'Reilly, members were given the opportunity to speak 'off the cuff" on a broad range of subjects.The claims to the status of genius to be conferred to David Bowie and Bruce Springsteen was discussed. Bobby Buckley was challenged to speak spontaneously on anything at all . Valerie Murphy spoke of her ambition to trek around the African Continent.Brendan Foley lauded the books of Steven King while Noel O'Connor spoke about the role of the Irish Presidency. Bridie O'Connell remarked on how a device like the Smartphone contains so many positive and negative qualities.

At the meeting's conclusion, Ray Ryan assumed the role of General Evaluator, offering feedback on the meeting. He awarded Best Speaker to Marie Lynes, Best Evaluator to Helsa Giles and Best Topic to Brendan Foley.He contended that all participants were winners for the efforts made.

Speakeasy's meeting season continues on Thursday,20th September in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM. Guests and prospective members are welcome to attend and will not be coerced to speak unless they wish to do so. For more information about Speakeasy, please check out our Club website, or Facebook.Alternatively, contact Club President, Sean Corcoran -086-6054784.