Saturday, April 21, 2018

Competition night

Imagine a room where all smartphones and digital devices are switched off. A room where people engage in real communication, in real time without the distraction of searching for "likes", a room where there is no digital distraction? That is the room where Speakeasy Toastmasters hold their meetings . Last week, we had two hours of undivided attention for the Area 17 Final of the Speech and Evaluation Contests.

A large attendance witnessed the cream of North Cork's most accomplished communicators in action. Theresa O'Reilly of Speakeasy kicked off proceedings with "The Choice". She spoke honestly about her addiction to Social Media, her fear of missing out on every little notification by all her virtual friends and her efforts to go "cold turkey". 

Deirdre Linehan, representing the Fáilte Club in Charleville spoke about her time as coach in "Dob's Army'. The year is 1975 and the Final of the Schools Basketball Final is in full swing. Can the underdogs of Kildare School overcome the overwhelming favourites, Laurel Hill of Limerick. Time is running out and the title is in the balance. 

Bobby Buckley, Speakeasy, presented the eloquent "The call of the litter picker". He described his new vocation as a volunteer, devoting his Saturday mornings to restoring Bray Head to it's intended beauty. Meaning in life can be found by looking outside oneself and devoting time and energy to the community's benefit. 

"Imagination" saw Liam Jones of Fáilte having a relationship with what goes on inside his head. Invoking the words of Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King and Walter Disney, he showed how powerful the imagination can be. 

"Positivity" was the worthy theme of Frank O'Driscoll's contribution. Representing Fermoy Toastmasters, he recalled the film "The Shawshank Redemption" and the famous line "Get busy living or get busy dying". In times of adversity, be it domestic or financial, the willingness to keep going and never, ever give in is the key to a positive outcome. 

Finally, the golden voiced Kevin Walsh of Fermoy gave a lively and entertaining talk on the "Strangers". Recalling his experience of travelling in Britain for the first time in his life, he was pleasantly amazed at the welcome he received, reinforcing the old adage "that a stranger is a friend you haven't met yet". 

In the Speech Evaluation Contest, 5 Contestants, Fanahan Colbert, Frances Lowry, Pat Sexton, Ray Ryan and Michelle O'Brien were challenged to provide meaningful feedback to a test speaker. Philip O'Brien of Bandon Toastmasters delivered a fascinating reflection on "Lessons from the Strawberry Fields". He explained how his life was moulded in a positive way from the planting, picking and pruning of the strawberry crop and the lessons learned continue to guide his life. All contestants provided detailed, honest and sensible feedback to the speaker. 

When the adjudicators ballots were counted, Pat Sexton and Ray Ryan, both Speakeasy emerged First and Second in the Speech Evaluation Contest. In the Speech Contest, Deirdre Linehan was declared Winner, with Theresa O'Reilly in Second place. These contestants will now advance to the Division B (North Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary) Final in the Castletroy Park Hotel in Limerick on Sunday 29th April. We wish them every success. 
Pat Sexton, Ray Ryan, Gerard Mannix & Theresa O' Reilly

In other news, Speakeasy is saddened to learn of the death of former member, Máire Welford. Máire, a well known writer, graced our meetings with her kind wisdom. We extend our condolences to her family and friends. 

For readers who are interested in savouring the atmosphere of our Celebration Night, footage is available on our Facebook page. 

Our next meeting will take place in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday, 3rd May at 8.00.PM. Another night of reflection and entertainment in a Smartphone Free Zone is assured. Guests are welcome and will not be coerced to speak unless they wish to do so. 

For more information, please check us out on our website or on Facebook. Alternatively, please contact Club President, Helsa Giles - 0838858848. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A celebration to remember!

"It's like your whole life is flashing before your eyes, but instead of dying, you are laughing".

Or fondly remembering. Or suppressing a quiet tear at being reminded of a personal memory. Those were the reactions of audience members at Speakeasy Toastmasters 25th Anniversary Celebration Night. A packed ballroom of Toastmasters and friends, from Garryvoe to Drogheda and, of course, from North Cork, were entertained and enthralled by a stellar cast of speakers.


Fathers were high on the agenda. Bobby Buckley's "Man on the bike" told the beautiful story of his time as an athlete and of how his proud father lived his life  through his son's achievements. On the other hand, Matt Lawlee presented an hilarious account of his  baby daughter's first feed. Much to the amusement of the audience, "The First  Baby" portrayed Matt as the ultimate "bull in a China - Shop" as he detailed the litany of disasters that befell him.

"Athletics" was also also to the fore in "I haven't gone away, you know!"Michael Walsh recalled the mysterious residents that stayed in his house when he was a boy. They were"on the run " and quite generous with presents like horses. Delivered in a deadpan manner, this was satire of the highest order.

Straight ahead humour was the driver of Michael Cronin's contribution -" The trauma of being dumped ". On this occasion, it wasn't a woman. It was his Broadband provider! "Three" decided that Michael was one too many in their relationship. And so, the hapless Michael has to trudge across his wet fields to find the 4G spot.

Looking back on the past through rose tinted spectacles underpinned speeches by Joan Linehan and Gerry O'Callaghan. The former recalled the morning of the County Stations. Joan remembered with deep fondness the beautiful selection of  food and the "dignitaries" dining in the Parlour. The evocative imagery of "The Teapot" will linger long in the memory. 

"The good old days of the radio", saw Gerry O'Callaghan regale his audience with stories of Frankie Byrne's problem section, DinJoe introducing set dancing on the  radio. But pride of place must go to "Ovaltine". "which seemed to possess aphrodisiac qualities.

" Lions led by donkeys", recalled the tragic squalor of the trenches of World War 1. This powerful presentation detailed the thoughts and fears of an Irish man in a British uniform before his  fatal final journey over the top to become cannon fodder. As we are presently commemorating the significant milestones of the Great War, Kieran Buckley speech was hugely appropriate. 

The subject of aging disgracefully was the theme of "Satin Sandals". Age doesn't mean a diminishing of abilities but as Deirdre Linehan stressed "in slowing down, my children can now catch up with me!" 

Vivien Buckley explained what can happen when you try something different., "The jump" was the scary story of jumping from an aeroplane with a parachute on. The tension was gripping as Vivien was hurtling down towards the ground. Was this a big mistake or would the parachute open? 

Have you ever silently raged about the Single Room Supplement where you pay extra for the privilege of sleeping alone? Well then, Kieran Butler's " The Single Life" was just for you! Kieran fought the good fight for singletons everywhere with his exhortation - "Say it loud! I'm single and I'm proud!" 
Club President Helsa Giles and Club PRO Pat Sexton cutting the Birthday Cake.
Speakeasy Toastmasters has a proud reputation for tutoring it's members in the art of speechcraft. This was exemplified by the extraordinary show put on by all our speakers last Saturday night. We applaud their achievements. We also wish to thank our former members who rose to the challenge of shaking off the cobwebs and returning with such aplomb  to the speaking stage. 
Sean Corcoran, Toastmaster for the celebration night, with Club President Helsa Giles.
In other news, we congratulate former member, Rona Coghlan who achieved a gallant second place in the Division A (Cork) Final of the International Speech Contest in the Clayton Hotel, Cork. With a speech entitled - "Would I lie to you?" represented the Carrigaline Club who were also represented by the winning speaker, Holly Blake. 

Speakeasy now looks forward to the next twenty five years. It begins on Thursday Night, April 19th in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM.This meeting will be devoted to the Area 17 Finals of the International Speech and Evaluation Contests. Clubs from North Cork will participate, including Bobby Buckley, Theresa O'Reilly, Ray Ryan and Pat Sexton of Speakeasy. As always, guests are very welcome to attend what promises to be a lively night's entertainment. We look forward to seeing you. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Celebration night

Celebration Night!

Delayed by Storm Emma, which is now a distant memory,the Speakeasy Toastmasters 25th Anniversary Celebration Night takes place on Saturday Night in the Hibernian Hotel at 8.00PM.There will be gales on the night, this time gales of laughter.

It promises to a festival of nostalgia and entertainment,with the cream of Speakeasy delivering some of the most memorable speeches delivered at our meetings over the last quarter of a century.Among the featured speakers is Kieran Buckley. Kieran  is a Past President,renowned for his fine speeches.His chosen speech on Saturday Night is "Lions led by Donkeys", a moving reflection on World War 1, delivered  from a soldier's point of view.

Over the past few years,Speakeasy has been a witness to many extraordinary presentations from Bobby Buckley.A native of Mallow, Bobby is a dual member of both Speakeasy and the Rathfarnham Club in Dublin. Bobby will regale us on Saturday Night with his recollections of times past in Mallow. Also on the menu is Gerry O'Callaghan. Gerry can always be relied on to colour his verbal outpourings with a large dollop of humour ,not exclusively self-directed! Like many of the speakers on the night, Gerry was a contestant at the highest level in Toastmasters,fondly remembered for his touching eulogy to his dearly departed pet rat,"Toby".

All in all,our Celebration Night will have a broad range of speeches that will entertain us, inspire us and give the opportunity to reflect on some of life's big questions.So,why not drop in and us on our special night.Refreshments will be served on the night and fun is guaranteed.

At our last meeting, we were treated to a fascinating selection of subjects during the speech programme. Under the astute and personable guidance of the Toastmaster of the evening, Bridie O'Connell, four speakers gave very strong and factual presentations. Marie Fitzpatrick posed the challenge-" Reason the need".Turning the words of Shakespeare's "King Lear" around, Marie spoke of our crazy,modern life-style where we rack up huge levels of debt because "we are worth it!"We live in a world of hidden persuaders who sell us the illusion of happiness, be it the AIB with their "children's playhouse " advertising or large retail outlets and their Loyalty Cards. The result of all this consumerism is an appalling household inbebitness. Marie had the perfect solution for impulse buying with Credit Card- a wire cutters to slice up the "Cards of temptation ".

Maria Connolly delivered a fascinating talk on "Existentialism", the philosophy that emerged in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries on how we exist in the world and the freedom to choose our destiny. She detailed the various proponents of existentialism,Jean Paul Satre, Friedrich Nietzsche and the hugely influential" Man's search for meaning " by Victor Frankl. A survivor of the Nazi Concentration Camps, Frankl asserted that,regardless of one's circumstances,we maintain the choice to choose our attitude to any situation we find ourselves in.

Kevin O'Neill of Fermoy Toastmasters recalled the "Tin Lizzie", the most influential motor car of all time, the Model T. He outlined the huge significance of Henry Ford's achievements - the introduction of assembly line production, the personal freedom that the automobile provided and improvements in workers pay and conditions.It's only drawback was the cumbersome and dangerous method of starting the vehicle- by a crank handle. "Any colour you like,as long as it's black", was the motto of Henry Ford.Yet, the original Model T came in greys and green!

Finally, Bobby Buckley gave a motivational talk on Leadership Excellence.He spoke about the new Toastmasters Programme -"Pathways". He encouraged all members to embrace this programme which reinforces the communication leadership ethos of the organisation and to take the plunge by adapting  the online technology which plays a role in the Toastmasters Programme.
As always,all speakers received full and frank evaluations of their speeches,evaluations provided in a comprehensive manner by Claire O'Connell, Don McSweeney,Pat Sexton and Ray Ryan.

The Topicsmaster of the meeting, Liam Flynn,acted as discussion leader on an eclectic mix of impromptu talks. Ann Buckley addressed the issue of the romanticising of the past when the Summers were always warmer and the grasss was greener. Marie Lynes spoke eloquently on those magic moments that turn her on : the moments shared,the musical moments enjoyed.Deirdre Linehan and Gerry O'Callaghan  and Don McSweeney revealed their oldest family mementos.Tony O'Regan  spoke about the perfect gift for American tourists.It wasn't what anyone expected!

At the meeting's conclusion,the General Evaluator, Theresa O'Reilly, presented awards for the Best performances: Marie Lynes - Best Topic; Best Evaluator - Ray Ryan ; Best Speaker - Kevin O'Neill.Awards are presented to the outstanding performers at each meeting but,it should be noted that all contributors are winners.

Forthcoming events at Speakeasy include the Area  17 Finals (North Cork)of the Speech and Evaluation Contests on the 19th April in the Hibernian Hotel.Meanwhile, all roads lead to Saturday Night and Speakeasy Toastmasters 25th Anniversary Celebration Night .We look forward to seeing you.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

At the beginning

"After all, I really love you,
After all that we've been through."

It was Spring 1993 and while a young man's fancy may have been turning to love, in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow many people's fancy were turning to the realisation that a new Toastmasters Club had been formed. Demonstration meetings had started the previous October and now there were sufficient members recruited from all over the North Cork area to establish a viable club. A name was chosen to reflect the attitude of the club and a committee formed. Meetings had a "real buzz" about them.

At precisely the same time, a different "buzz" was happening in Cork City. A young three piece rock band called "The Frank and Walters" were blazing a trail up the English Music Charts with a song called "After All". This was at a time when these Charts mattered. They were called to appear on" Top of the Pops". On that week in March, their song rose to the lucky heights of Number 13,ahead of Paul McCartney who also appeared on the show. After their initial success, "The Frank's", settled down to become a much loved and highly respected Cork institution and never became Tax-Exiles or sang about World hunger.

And now, twenty five years later, "The Frank's" are an enjoying a return to the limelight. Their signature song is back up to the top of the charts as a result of it's manic rendition by the madcap Billy Murphy in the series finale of "The Young Offenders".Their new found fame shows that while fashion is fleeting, class is eternal. 

Twenty five years later, Speakeasy Toastmasters continues to flourish. The founding Committee elected in March 1993 consisted of President: Joe O'Connor, Boherbue ;Vice President Education : Loretta Barry, Mallow ; Vice President Membership : Ger Cott, Charleville ; PRO : Deirdre Horgan, Mallow ;Secretary : Ann Coughlan, Buttevant ;Treasurer : John Stack, Mallow ; Sergeant at Arms : Nellie O'Keeffe, Doneraile and Dónal O'Cainte, Liscarroll.

This Committee and others that followed have guided the Club to achieve high standards of meetings and educational accomplishments  over a quarter of a century. Hundreds of members have benefited from their involvement over the years. Members have begun speaking before a Toastmasters audience and have their confidence and communication skills transformed. 

Our Twenty Fifth Anniversary Celebration Night will commemorate our speaking success with a fine range of speakers, past and present.It promises to be a night of entertainment, enlightenment and inspiration. The dress code is informal, with refreshments provided on the night. We invite the public to join us for this unique occasion. It takes place in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Saturday 14th April at 8.00PM. 

In the meantime, the next Club Meeting takes place on Thursday, 5th April at 8.00PM Sharp. As always, a fine lineup of speakers will be on show and a fine night of entertainment is guaranteed. Guests are more than welcome to attend and experience for themselves what Speakeasy has to offer. You will not be coerced into speaking unless you wish to do so. 

For more information, please check out our website or Facebook. Alternatively, please contact President Helsa Giles, 0838858848.