Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Jerry Mulcahy Award

Claire O'Connell is this year's recipient of The Jerry Mulcahy Award.

Jerry Mulcahy played a significant role in Speakeasy Toastmasters' success story. An ever present at Meetings and always willing to get stuck in to all Club activities, Jerry was serenity, wisdom and gentility personified.He served in variouspositions on Club Committees including President in our Twentieth Anniversary Year of 2013.

In memory of his enormous contribution, Speakeasy initiated The Jerry Mulcahy Award in 2016 to honour Club members for exemplary contributions. Previous recipients of the Award include Sean Corcoran, Michael Cronin and Ray Ryan.

We extend our heartiest congratulations to Claire on her achievement. 
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A Wonderful Year reviewed.

Sean Corcoran presided over last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters AGM and reviewed another eventful year for the Club. It was a year with many highlights, meaningful meetings and community involvement.

It was also the year of awards. In December, Deirdre Linehan received an Award at the Cork County Council Mayor's Reception. This Award was in recognition of Deirdre's achievement of competing at the World Finals of Public Speaking in Chicago.
In March, Speakeasy Toastmasters received a Club Achievement Award at the Mallow and District Sports and Leisure Council Gala Banquet. This was in recognition of Speakeasy's continued contribution within the community over the past twenty-five years.

In November, the Club held it's Annual Schools Public Speaking Competition. The winning speaker was Grace O'Brien of Scoil Mhuire, Kanturk who presented a powerful presentation on the dangers of sugar - "Alcahol to a child". The Best School Award went to Nagle Rice College, represented by Sharon Campbell and Conrad Werner.

Another memorable highlight was the Club's Annual Theme Night which focused on the magic of books. Eight speakers interpreted the works of famous Irish writers like Brendan Behan, Frank O'Connor, Maeve Binchy and Joseph O'Connor. The evening also featured tributes to former members, Máire Welford and John Dillon. 

On alternate Thursday Nights, Speakeasy held it's usual meetings, where members, both new and experienced, acquired and developed their communication skills. "Learning by doing" is the approach used in Toastmasters. Over the past year, a very high standard of meetings ensured that members learned most in moments of enjoyment. The speeches were many and varied, the evaluations motivational and supportive and the Topics Sessions entertaining and insightful. 
Speech evaluators Claire O'Connell, Don McSweeney & Marie Fitzpatrick. 

As always, Club members participated in the various competitions and enjoyed a fair degree of success. In the Humorous Speech Contest, Kieran Butler and Claire O'Connell reached the Division B Final (Munster) with Kieran achieving a Third Placefinish. In the International Speech Contest Pat Sexton and Brendan Foley were among the Contestants who reached the Division Final. Sean Corcoran and Pat Sexton participated in the Division B Final of the Speech Evaluation Contest, with Pat going forward to compete in the Irish and British Final in Norwich. In the Table Topics Contest, Ray Ryan and Pat Sexton were successful in reaching the Division Final. Ultimately, Pat Sexton reached the District Final and was placed in Second Place. 

Speakeasy were enthusiastic participants in Kanturk Arts Festival in March. Liam Flynn, Bobby Buckley and Gerry O'Callaghan regaled a full house at O'Callaghans Showroom. At the Drama Night in The Edel Quinn Hall, Sean Corcoran and Kieran Buckleywere part of a strong and varied programme. 

The following officers were elected for the coming year - President - Theresa O'Reilly ; Education Officer - Rachel Liston ; Membership Officer - Don McSweeney ; PRO - Pat Sexton; Secretary - Ann Nyhan ; Treasurer - Máire Fitzpatrick ; Hospitality Officers - Claire O'Connell, Susan Hegarty and Verna Byrne. 

The next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting takes place on Thursday, 30th May in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 8.00PM. Guests are always welcome to attend and are never required to speak unless they wish to do so. A great night's entertainment is assured. 
For more information, please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Style is eternal.

"Fashion fades but style is eternal", this was the core message delivered by Maria Connolly at last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting. Her fascinating speech - "Style" provided a thorough guide on how to "dress to impress". She dealt with the hugely entertaining issue of body shapes,be it the"inverted triangle",the "pear shape" or the "hour-glass". Even Kim Karadashian got a mention with her "large hour-glass figure! Ultimately, the best advice she proffered to her audience was" be yourself".

Advice was readily given by Susan Hegarty in her humorous tale of holiday stress. "Don't sweat the small stuff" was the usual story of pre-holiday rush - emptying the fridge of everything yet going on a diet before the holiday splurge on junk food. Packing enough clothes for a six month stay in America is also part of that pre-holiday stress! And then Susan discovers the book by Richard Karl's on that gives the speech it's title. The book proves to be a treasure trove of wisdom that eases the stress. Pick your battles wisely - you don't have to be right all the time. And Smile! It releases happy hormones and it's free.

Rachel Liston delivered an utterly absorbing speech - "Caught in a flash". We have all experienced the disappointment of having photographs sullied by "Red Eye". It is usually the combination of dim light and the enlarging of the pupils of the eyes. But Rachel told us the tale of how the presence of "Red Eye" denotes good health and how it's absence led to the early diagnosis of a rare form of eye cancer in a young child. While one eye was lost, the spread of cancer was prevented. Losing an eyedoesn't mean mean you lose your vision. Moreover, people adjust to the inconveniences. So "Red Eye" is a sign of optical good health and not just a photo ruined. 
Speakers:Susan Hegarty, Rachel Liston & Maria Connolly. 

Three informative and entertaining speeches were greeted with three insightful and helpful evaluations from Don McSweeney, Claire O'Connell and Maire Fitzpatrick respectively. Each evaluation focused on the strengths of the presentation and highlighted areas where the speaker could improve. In Speakeasy, this is called "the sandwich method" of commend, recommend and commend. 

The impromptu section of the meeting - the Topics Session - was conducted by Verna Byrne. A diverse range of topics covered subjects like the protests that will inevitably greet a Trump visit to Ireland, which sport arouses most fear and how each day is a learning experience. The skills acquired by engaging in a Topics Session are of benefit everyday, be it at work, in social situations and in general conversations. 

At the Meeting's conclusion, awards were presented to Susan Hegarty - Best Speaker, To Best Evaluator - Don McSweeney and to Best Topics - Theresa O'Reilly. 

The next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting will take place in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow on Thursday, 30th May at 8.00PM. As always, guests are welcome to attend and observe the fun and the learning. Visitors are never coerced into speaking unless they wish to do so. For more details, please check out the website speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

A global village.

"No man is an island", the poet John Donne wrote. And neither are Toastmasters Clubs and their members. This was very much in evidence at the District 71 Irish and British Conference which took place in Norwich last weekend. Toastmasters members from all over England and Ireland mixed and mingled in an exhilarating and intoxicating weekend of Competition, workshops, keynote speakers and fun. It was a global village for Toastmasters. It was a weekend when old friendships were renewed and new ones weremade.

It was a weekend that was crammed with 8 Semi finals and 4 Finals spread across three memorable days and Speakeasy were at the heart of it. In the District Final of the Humorous Speech Competition, Dermot Carey of Dublin emerged victorious with a hugely enjoyable speech - "PBC". It wasn't about a certain Secondary School in Cork but was a hilarious commentary on the boring, grey and dull world of accountants, auditors and actuaries,delivered by an accountant. Among the other participants in this Final was Laura Mehigan of Douglas Toastmasters with her wonderfully entertaining speech on the terror of snoring - "My New Product". Laura presented a top class presentation but finished outside the top 3 placings.

In the International Speech Contest Final, Philip Khan - Pani of Society Toastmasters in Dublin took First Prize with his uplifting speech - "Forever Second?"This is Philip's fourth time to achieve the top prize in this competition and previouslyfinished second in the World Championship Final in 1995. Second place was taken by Gerry Dunn of Glasgow Toastmasters with a thoughtful and hilarious account of his teaching days in a tough neighbourhood.

Speakeasy Toastmasters were represented in two Contests by Pat Sexton. In the Speech Evaluation Contest, Pat battled his way through the Semi Final on Friday to take his place in the District Final on Sunday where he attempted to retain the prize he won at last year's Cork Conference. On this occasion victory eluded him as the main prize went to Simon May of Leeds City Toastmasters, with Vinette Hoffman Jackson of Bedford Speakers in runner - up place. Among the other contestants in this competitionwas Margaret O'Flynn of the Talking Heads Toastmasters in Garryvoe.

In the Table Topics Contest, Pat emerged as a Semi Final winner with his unconventional answer to the question - "What is your favourite food and why?"
In the District Final, without any preparation, participants had to answer - "In a movie about your life, which actor would play the lead role and would it be a comedy, love story, tragedy or thriller?" In an exciting and hilarious verbal joust,Pat was narrowly beaten at the post into Second Place by Vinette Hoffman Jackson of Bedford Speakers. This is the sixth occasion that Pat has achieved second place in this competition, as well as winning it on three other occasions.

All journeys in Toastmasters begin at the Club and Speakeasy will hold their next Club Meeting on Thursday, 16th May in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 8.00PM. 
Even though the evenings are lengthening, it is still a great time to sample the Toastmasters experience. Now is a time to plan ahead and think about worthy pursuits and goals for next Autumn. Acquiring the skills of good communication is relevant in all four seasons. Competition season is well and truly over for now and it's back to normal meetings. So come along and pay us a visit. Guests are always welcome and are never cajoled into speaking unless they wish to do so.
For more information on this Club, please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

The Magic of the written word

"It's only words and words are all I have", the Bee Gees once sang. But words can be powerful, they can uplift or undermine. Words are the key to unlocking the magic of the iminagation. Words are the weapons of the writer as they pour their creativity onto the page.

At last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters Theme Meeting - Literary Speaking - various Club members took up the challenge of interpreting the writings of well known writers and bringing them to life. There was humour aplenty - Michael Cronin's interpretation of Joseph O'Connor's "The Birds and the Bees" poked fun at the desperately seeking love and Sean Corcoran's rendition of John B Keane's "The Letter" told the hapless tale of a matchmaker's attempt to provide loving relationships for the really desperate Self deprecating humour was beautifully woven into the language of Maeve Binchy's "Happy Hypochondria". Bridie O'Connell captured that feeling of "white coat fever" that many of us feel when visiting a doctor's or a dentist's surgery. If we are feeling unwell beforehand, that feeling is often doubled by the time we leave. 

Nostalgia abounded. Some stories reminded listeners of the Inter-cert English Course. Loretto Barry captured the "Corkness" of Frank O'Connor's "My First Confession" and Deirdre Linehan gave a dramatic presentation of Brendan Behan's "The Confirmation Suit". Both captured the essence of great Irish writing - a troubled childhood and Catholicism.

Noel O'Connor did a moving homage to a former member, Máire Welford. Her short story "Off the Scrapheap" told the fake of an unemployed mechanic regaining his self esteem. The late John Dillon of Kanturk was fondly remembered in Anne Buckley'srendition of the mysterious "The Murhur Reel", which painted a wonderful picture of life in rural Kerry in the 1940s.

No evening of readings would be compete without a helping of horror. Bobby Buckley duly obliged with the scary story of "Beowulf - Dragonslayer" from Rosemary Sutcliff. This was a tale that could have inspired "Game of Thrones" and frightened children of all ages. And so concluded "Literary Speaking", another night that will go down in the annals of great Speakeasy nights. 
Back row: Liam Flynn, Bobby Buckley, Sean Corcoran, Noel O'Connor, Michael Cronin & Pat Sexton.
Front Row:Anne Buckley, Loretto Barry, Bridie O'Connell & Deirdre Linehan. 

In other news, the District 71 (Ireland and Britain) Conference takes place in Norwich this coming weekend. Speakeasy will be represented in the Table Topics and Evaluation Contests by Pat Sexton. It promises to be an eventful weekend. 

The next meeting of Speakeasy Toastmasters will take place on Thursday, 16th May in the Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 8.00PM. As always, guests are welcome and are never compelled to speak, unless they wish to do so. 
For more information, please check out our website speakeasytoastmasters.com or on Facebook.