Monday, December 16, 2019

A Christmas Cracker!

The Christmas Meeting of Speakeasy Toastmasters was a celebratory and festive one. It's highlight was a presentation to Club member Bobby Buckley to mark his achievement of receiving the Distinguished Toastmaster Award, the highest achievement in the Toastmasters programme.

In his presentation speech - "Staying Power", Michael Cronin spoke of the dedication and enthusiasm that Bobby brought to his participation in Toastmasters. As a joint member of both the Rathfarnham Club in Dublin and Speakeasy, Bobby has presented over forty speeches and a number of educational talks as well as playing a part in Leadership roles. Michael paid tribute to Bobby for the many wonderful and poetic speeches that he has delivered in Speakeasy since he joined the Club in 2015 and expressed a wish to hear many more in the years ahead!

In his acceptance speech - "From Zero to Hero", Bobby spoke about his relationship with his native town of Mallow and his eventful career as a cross country runner. He spoke fondly of the "wonderful reception and welcome" he received when he presented his first speech in Speakeasy in 2015.The speech was called "The Man on the Bike" and recalled his father's encouragement of his athletic career. Bobby spoke that coming to Speakeasy was like returning to his spiritual home, where "he was received like a prodigal son".

Noel O'Connor's speech - "India" offered a fascinating travelogue on his recent visit to that country. It was festooned with striking visual images - the spiders' webs of power lines above the narrow streets, the ubiquitous floral decorations of French Marigolds, entire families on motorbikes, overcrowded vans and land rovers. And then there was the traffic - noisy chaos would be far too sedate a description for it. As one observer remarked - "Perhaps, we could send them Shane Ross and improve life in two countries!" The description of farming life in India seemed to be centuries removed from Irish agriculture with an average herd size of 3 cows and milkmen on motorbikes.

Claire O'Connell presented an engaging rumination on" The Deception of Success". Using stereotypes as examples, she posed a series of important questions. What is success anyway? What depicts failure? Is it the career, the trophy wife? Claire challenged us to look at other meaningful measures of success - what is your special gift? What makes you a good friend? Are you a kind soul?

Kindness was the theme of a rather novel Topics Session from Topicsmaster Helsa Giles. Encouraging members to speak impromptu speak on an object or "present" picked out of a lucky bag, the responses covered everything from Harley Davidsons to recycling to baubles, stolen Christmas trees and Bob Dylan's Christmas Album! And, of course, no discussion of the festive season would be complete without mention of dreaded words like moderation and Brussel Sprouts.

At the meeting's conclusion, the General Evaluator, Anne O'Donovan oversaw a strong Evaluation Session and presented awards to outstanding contributions. The Best Evaluation Award went to Marie Fitzpatrick. The Best Topic Award was picked up by Liam Flynn for his reminiscing on riding a Harley Davidson. The Best Speaker was awarded to Bobby Buckley, a fitting recognition of his special night.

And that brought our final Meeting of 2019 to a close. Following a short break for Christmas, Speakeasy Toastmasters will return on Thursday, 9th January 2020 in The Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 8.00PM. 

The New Year is an ideal time to take up a new hobby or pursuit. Why not pay Speakeasy Toastmasters a visit? Guests are always welcome to attend our meetings and are never obliged to speak unless they wish to do so. 

For more information on this club, please check out our website
or on Facebook. 

Finally, we wish all our readers a joyous and peaceful Christmas and every success in 2020. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

The Gift of Speechcraft

The final Speakeasy Toastmasters Meeting of the year will take place on Thursday Night, 12th December in The Hibernian Hotel Mallow at 8.00PM. 

It will incorporate Seasonal Festivities with the usual opportunities for members to hone their communication skills. One of skills focused on will be the delivery of "special occasion" speeches. We often find ourselves having to do the honours on specific occasions, be it at weddings, retirement parties and other celebrations. Quite often, such events are marred by meandering speeches. In Toastmasters, we learn "the art of brevity" - long enough to cover the essentials and short enough to remain interesting.

Over the past two weeks, Speakeasy has been privelaged to witness speechcraft at it's finest. At the last Club Meeting, we were treated to some wonderful speeches and stories where the listener got to "walk a mile in someone else's shoes".

Marie Lynes offered a beautiful reflection on her journey through the decades. "My Time Lines" chronicled her parents returning home from Bolton to set up a business in the town of Newmarket. She humorously believes that the "Sixties" happened in the Seventies! She spoke about the impact of the Northern Troubles and the last hurrah (in hindsight) of the Papal Visit in 1979. She eloquently described her experiences as a teacher and working in an envoirnment "where everyone has gifts and everyone has difficulties".

"26 years a growing" was how Margaret O'Regan described her experience of being a member of Speakeasy. She couldn't recall when she overcame her nervousness about speaking in public - it happened gradually and then suddenly which is a common story in Toastmasters. She detailed her many roles in life - a mother, a daughter, a sister, a wife, a nurse and a farmer. He outlined the reasons why she upped sticks  for 9 months and went volunteering on the Congolese /Congolese border - an adventure that proved to be humbling, enlightening, challenging and fun.

"Responsibilities" was the title of Mary Moynihan's entertaining look at growing up in a County which was described by Queen Victoria - The Famine Queen - as The Kingdom. Growing up in the Sliabh Luachra area, Mary spoke about the Holy Trinity that was School Education, Church Salvation and Pub Damnation. She also summed up the notorious Kerry reticence towards travelling - "Why would I travel when everything is in the Kingdom?"

Travel was certainly the theme of the Gillian Harris' fascinating account of the life of Sophie Catherine Theresa Mary Pierce Evans. "A girl from Newcastle - West" was an extraordinary tale of pioneering adventure and trail blazing. Born in 1896 and orphaned at an early age, Sophie lived a life less ordinary with numerous financially enriching marriages and a pioneering spirit which including a campaign to admit  Women Athletes in the Olympics. She then blazed a trail in aviation, inspiring many women to spread their wings. She was a woman of style and substance who was born to fly. 

Speeches were also to the fore at last week's Schools Public Speaking Competition. A total of 16 students participated, drawn from Schools stretching from the Kerry Border to Charleville and taking in Kanturk, Doneraile and Mallow. A packed room was enthralled by a diverse and fascinating array of speeches on subjects like Michelle Obama, smoking, farming and mental health. 

Following some serious deliberations by the adjudicators, SinĂ©ad Barry, St. Mary's Secondary school, Mallow finished in 3rd Place; Molly Kirwan, Scoil Mhuire Kanturk was Runner-up and Fiona Lonergan, St. Mary's Secondary School Mallow was the winner. Fiona's speech - "What If" was a strong presentation on the importance of gender equality and worthy of the Hibernian Hotel Perpetual Trophy. The Mallow Credit Union Perpetual  Prize for Best School was awarded to St. Mary's Secondary school, Mallow.

Speakeasy Toastmasters wishes to thank Mallow Credit Union for their continued sponsorship of this Competition. Thanks are also due to the various Schools and their teaching staff as well as the various mentors whose contribution helped make this occasion such an overwhelming success.

Finally, a reminder that guests are welcome to attend any of of the Club's Meetings including this week's Meeting on this Thursday night. Guests are assured of a great night's entertainment and are not obliged to speak unless they wish to do so.
For more information on this club, please check out our website or on Facebook. 

Monday, December 02, 2019

Schools Public Speaking Competition.

Schools Public Speaking Competition.

Speakeasy Toastmasters Club continues it's busy schedule when it hosts the Annual Schools Public Speaking Competition on this coming Thursday night,5th December in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PMsharp. 

Since it's inception in 2006, this competition has given Transition Year students the opportunity to acquire and display their communication skills in an exciting verbal joust. It is an opportunity for everyone else to try and figure out what goes on in a teenager's head!Down through the years, Secondary Schools from all over the North Cork area have participated in this Competition.

The winning School and individual speaker will receive perpetual trophies, which were kindly sponsored by the Hibernian Hotel and Mallow Credit Union. 

This year, we are delighted to have participating Schools from Doneraile, Kanturk, Charleville, Rathmore and Mallow who will address topical issues like teenage life, addiction, sport, humour and positive thinking.As always, guests are welcome. Support for all the contestants is greatly appreciated.

We are now approaching the Fourth Anniversary of the sad passing of esteemed member Jerry Mulcahy. Jerry was a hugely committed and highly popular member of our Club for seventeen years. He served on many Club Committees in various positions, culminating with his Presidency in 2013.

His many speeches chronicled the life of the Irish immigrants in London in the 1950's.He spoke about surviving on a diet of 'iffits' - if it's there we'll eat it! He was a fountain of knowledge on the changing face of Rural Ireland through the decades. 

So enthusiastic about the benefits of Toastmasters, Jerry established 'Nice and Easy Toastmasters in the Cope Foundation in Mallow. Over the years, many clients of Cope benefitted from Jerry's gentle tuition. He will be long remembered for his wit, wisdom and generosity of spirit. Our thoughts are with his family at this time.

Speakeasy Toastmasters will host it's final Meeting of the year on the following Thursday, the 12th December in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow at 8.00PM. This will be the final opportunity to experience Toastmasters this year and as such offers the chance to see the Club have to offer as a meaningful new pursuit in the New Year. The skill of good communication is an essential one to acquire and it's benefits can be felt in all aspects of life - at work, in interviews, in social situations and in leadership roles in sporting and community organisations.

For more information on Toastmasters, please check out our website or visit us on Facebook.