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 speakeasytoastmasters.com 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 speakeasytoastmasters.com 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 speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook.