Monday, January 29, 2018

25th Anniversary.

Twenty Fifth Anniversary Celebration. 

Speakeasy Toastmasters will hold their Twenty Fifth Anniversary Celebration Night in The Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Friday 2nd March at 8.00PM.

We have decided to mark the occasion in the manner we know best - through speeches! It will be a night of "Reeling in the Years"as we take a journey through some of the best speeches delivered at our Club Meetings down through the two and a half decades of our existence. 

There will be an Omnibus Collection of speeches that still resonate. Some will be speeches that won acclaim in Contests in both Ireland and the UK, others that won popular acclaim within our Club. Members, both past and present will come together for a night of reflection, inspiration and humour. We encourage the public to join us on that night for what promises to be another Speakeasy Toastmasters Special Occasion.

In October1992, a demonstration meeting took place in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow to lay the groundwork to establish  a Toastmasters Club in North Cork. By March the following year, Speakeasy Toastmasters was formed. It's first President was Joe O'Connor of Boherbue. Members hailed from all over the North Cork area - from Bweeng, Buttevant, Liscarroll, Doneraile and Mallow. Indeed, the large geographical spread of our membership base has been a huge strength down through the decades. 

In the ensuing years, Speakeasy has achieved enormous success, both within the Toastmasters organisation and in greater community. Club members have won The District 71(Ireland and the UK) Speaking Contests on five occasions, including Matt Lawlee and Michael Cronin in the Humorous Speech Contest. Several other members have also qualified for District Finals. But, above all else Club Members have learned the art of confident communication and leadership skills. 

Members of Speakeasy have also assumed leadership positions within the organisation, including Jeremiah Ronayne who served as District 71 Governor in 2003-2004. Speakeasy's involvement in establishing other Toastmasters Clubs in the Munster area  is also significant. 

In November 2001,the Club hosted the Speakeasy Blackwater Conference in Springfort Hall,Mallow. Several hundred Toastmasters' members from all over Ireland and Britain came together for a spectacular weekend of Speech Contests and entertainment. In Toastmasters circles, this Conference was hailed as one of the greatest ever. 

Speakeasy members have also featured prominently in the Mallow Sports and Leisure Awards. Five members have won top awards, including Matt Lawlee, Jeremiah Ronayne, Michael Cronin and Mary Buckley. 

Involvement in the community has always featured prominently in our activities. Jerry Mulcahy introduced a Toastmasters programme to the Cope Foundation in Mallow. Members provide public speaking classes in various schools in North Cork. Each year, we host a Schools Public Speaking Competition, which provides a wonderful opportunity to participating students to acquire communication skills. 

It has been a richly rewarding Twenty Five years which we hope to celebrate in style on Friday, 2nd March. For those readers who have never attended our meetings, this is a great night to come along and join the celebrations. 

In the meantime, Meetings continue as usual. Our next meeting takes place in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday, 8th February at 8.00PM. You are more than welcome to come along and sample the entertainment. As always, guests will be able to enjoy the meeting without any obligation to speak, unless you wish to do so. 

For more information about our Club, please visit our website, or on Facebook. Alternatively, you can contact President, Helsa Giles-083-8858848.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Liam Neeson welcome!

At a recent function in Aras an Uachtaran, the actor Liam Neeson admitted that his greatest fear in life was speaking in public.It seems surprising that a hugely successful actor would have such a fear. Yet, there is something quite reassuring in learning that the fear of speaking in public can effect people from all walks of life , regardless of their career success. If you feel like Liam Neeson about speaking before an audience,Speakeasy Toastmasters can help you. Through our Meetings, you can acquire the art of communication with ease and confidence.And, most importantly this can be achieved in an enjoyable,effective,self placed programme.

Speech delivery is an integral part of a Toastmasters Meeting.At each meeting,different members present speeches to gain experience on organising their ideas and to feel comfortable in front of an audience.Speech subject matter is chosen by the speaker and usually reflects personal interests and viewpoints.As a result, Speakeasy Meetings have hosted subjects as diverse as the legalising of Marijuana to the art of thatching.At our last Meeting,a broad range of subjects were presented with historical events as a dominant theme.

John Brennan presented a fascinating dissertation on Legal Tender entitled- "Pounds,Shillings and Bitcoin -a brief history of money ".We devote most of our lives spending it,saving it or wondering where it all went.John took us back to a time before money was in use and bartering was in vogue. As John explained bartering had it's limitations.If one wished to exchange  a horse for a cow, you were dependent on " a coincidence of wants".Someone has to want a horse and have a cow for exchange at the same time. Things start to get messy when the value of the animals doesn't match! The Chinese were the first to introduce the unit of exchange in the form of IOU.And ,now, we have evolved to virtual currency in the form of Bitcoin.We live in an era of Contactless Payment and customers paying for mundane purchases with their watches.But, regardless of payment method,having "enough" money remains a universal need.

History of a different kind was the theme of Verna Byrne's speech."Spike- from past to present " was an absorbing and fascinating look at Spike Island,a 104 acres Island at the mouth of Cork Harbour.To readers of a particular age,Spike Island is synonymous with it's time as a prison for car thieves and joyriders in the 1980's.But it's story goes back to the Seventh Century when Spike was the site of a monastery.It's strategic location has seen it used as a Military Base by both the British and Irish forces and as a prison.At one stage,it housed up to Three Thousand prisoners, which is greater than the number incarcerated in Alcatraz.Following the handover of Irish Ports by the British authorities in 1938, Spike Island became an Irish Army base for forty five years. Verna spoke of living on the Island as a young child,a fact that brought a strong personal angle to her speech.In 2017, First Place in the World's Tourist Attraction was awarded to Spike Island,ahead of Buckingham Palace and The Eiffel Tower.

More up to date history formed the bedrock of Pat Sexton's speech -"1968 Apocalypse". Pat detailed the reasons why 1968 was an "Annus Horribilis".This was a year of uprisings, suppressions, blood on the streets,the end of dreams - a year when hope turned to despair and idealism for a better future became an orphan.It was the year when Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were murdered,thus disenfranchising an entire younger generation of American voters.In 1967 The Beatles sang -"All you need is Love" and The Rolling Stones sang -"We Love You".One year later,they sang "Revolution" and "Street Fighting Man".So why such a change in such a short time?Youth turned angry and frustrated at the perceived injustices perpetrated by "The Establishment ".Rioting in the streets of American Cities and all over the World seemed to rock the system but failed to overthrow it.1968 was the year that the Sixties Dream ended.

Conflict of a different nature was articulated by Liam Flynn with an interpretative reading from "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly".Jean Dominique Bauby, a French magazine editor suffered a massive stroke which left him completely paralysed and speechless.Able to use one eyelid, he managed to "dictate" an extraordinary memoir. Liam brought to life the writer's lonely existence and his flights of imagination that helped him rise above his circumstances.This interpretative piece rounded out an exciting programme of speeches.

A key  aspect of each Toastmasters Meeting is the Evaluation section. Each speaker is assigned an Evaluator whose role is to provide positive and detailed feedback.This reinforces the mutually supportive environment at our meetings - people building people.Michael Cronin, Marie Fitzpatrick,Noel O'Connor and Don McSweeney provided insightful,thoughtful and constructive recommendations to all the speakers. At the meeting's conclusion, awards were presented for outstanding contributions,including John Brennan,Best Speaker and Marie Fitzpatrick,Best Evaluator.

In other news,Speakeasy participated in The Davis College Model United Nations which took place over four days last week in The City Hall, Cork.This is the brainchild of Jose Horte of Davis College, Mallow. Since 2014 this project has grown spectacularly to involve Schools from all over Ireland and beyond.Each student plays the role of a Delegate to the UN and debating important motions on important issues like AIDS,the refugee crisis,weapon stockpiling and disabilities.
At the event's closing ceremony,Pat Sexton was Guest Speaker and Club President,Helsa Giles presented awards to various participants for outstanding Leadership and Communication.Speakeasy is privileged to be involved in such a worthy event and we congratulate Jose and the staff at Davis College for their achievements.

The next Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting takes place in The Hibernian Hotel,Mallow on Thursday,25th January at 8.00PM.As always,guests are welcome. Indeed,it is not too late to jump on the train and take up a new and richly rewarding pastime that will improve your confidence and communication skills. We look forward to seeing you.
For more information,check out our website or follow us on Facebook.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Taste of Topics

Did you hear the one about the Corkman with an inferiority complex?
He thought that Cork was as good as any other county".

At last week's Speakeasy Toastmasters meeting,Topicsmaster,Claire O'Connell, posed the question- "If you weren't living in Cork,in what other County would you like to live?"
In a clear act of treason against the Republic of Cork, Bobby Buckley spoke nostalgically of his mis-spent youth on holidays in Thurles and the joys of achieving equality with the boys of Tipp,and of being a passenger in his uncle's brand new Ford Cortina.Worse was to follow as Theresa O'Reilly admitted her admiration for Kerry before settling on County Mayo with it's cycle paths and Croke Patrick.That two Corkonians could express a preference for any county other than Cork is in the words of Donald Trump -"sad"!
This was just one of the many entertaining conundrums presented during a fascinating and diverse Topics Session. The purpose of the Topics Session is to encourage members of Toastmasters to " think on their feet ",to speak in an impromptu manner and express opinions,show knowledge (if appropriate) and use imagination. With practice,impromptu speaking can be enormously beneficial in real life situations like inter-personal communications, job interviews,even chatting up in Chasers!

Other topics that aroused much banter included the choice of having to abstain from your favourite food for a million Euros.Tim Ahern was adamant that a medium rare Sirloin Steak was worth more than a million especially if those he shared the table with stopped checking their smart -phones. Ray Ryan was challenged to name three Toastmasters to accompany him on a remote desert island.Much to the disappointment (or perhaps relief!) of his Speakeasy colleagues,he chose three lucky ladies from other parts of Ireland and Britain.Michael Cronin admitted that he would date other members of Toastmasters, if they were willing! Indeed, one of the unintended consequences of Toastmasters is the sizeable number of relationships that accrue!

Anne Buckley was asked to choose between the minimum wage and life on social welfare. She spoke eloquently on the value of work and the sense of purpose it provides in life.Mick Donegan addressed the importance of friendship and the value of having a true friend to confide in.T ony O'Regan evoked the Limerick comedy band,The Rubberbandits by speaking about his horse outside. Helsa Giles decried the use of artificial sweeteners and expressed the wish that the Sugar Industry could be revived in Ireland.

At the Meeting's conclusion,the Best Topic response was awarded to Tim Ahern. A Speakeasy Topics Session can be challenging,informative and entertaining.It can also be the source of great ideas for speeches.One great example of this was Michael Cronin feeling dissatisfied with a topic response and working on a proper answer which became a very successful entry in the Humorous Speech Contest,finishing second in the Irish and British District Final in 2005. In short,Table Topics is a wonderful brain storming opportunity.

Topics is only one aspect of a Speakeasy meeting.The prepared speech section is another.If you haven't witnessed for yourself what Toastmasters has to offer in the areas of personal development and confident communication, why not promise yourself to pay us a visit? Though we meet in Mallow,we serve the greater North Cork area,from the Kerry to the Tipperary borders. Guests are never put on the spot and coerced to speak unless they choose to do so .Our next meeting takes place in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow on Thursday,25th January at 8.00PM.We look forward to seeing you.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Operation Transformation in Speakeasy!

Operation Transformation in Speakeasy!

Do you need to say a few we'll chosen words on those special occasions?
Do you need to sharpen your communication skills for work presentations or interviews?
Do you wish to chair meetings effectively?
Do you wish to improve your creative writing skills?
Or are you simply looking for a good night's entertainment?

If the answer to any of the above questions is "Yes",then Speakeasy Toastmasters is for you. For many people,speaking before an audience is a daunting challenge.In various surveys,respondents listed speaking in public as their number one fear,outranking even the fear of death by a two to one margin.

Speakeasy Toastmasters is devoted to enabling it's members to express their thoughts,ideas and opinions in an enjoyable,yet professional training programme."Learning by doing" is the best way to learn any new skill and that is how Toastmasters works.You start speaking in a helpful,supportive and positive environment and in an "Operation Transformation " fashion you will grow in confidence and will get better and better.

We are very familiar with the term - "butterflies in your stomach". Toastmasters will help you to manage your butterflies or to help them "fly in formation". You will be introduced to various speaking techniques on how to organise your thoughts and speech structure.You will gain valuable experience on body gestures,on vocal variety and on the use of language to get your across.

To assist each member, speakers are assigned an "evaluator".The evaluator provides helpful,constructive feedback to the speakers which helps them identify their strengths and gives useful suggestions for future speeches.Other important facets of Toastmasters is the experience gained in chairing a meeting and participating in the impromptu part of the meeting, which is called the "Topics Session ". The Topics Session gives members the opportunity to let off steam and express their views on a broad range of issues,some of them serious, others humorous. And all of this takes place in a two hour meeting,held fortnightly .

As we face into a New Year,now is an appropriate time to take up new challenges. And what more rewarding opportunity can there be than honing your communication skills.Toastmasters is open to everyone from 18 to 81 years of age and beyond! Old dogs can learn new tricks and important life skills.

With this in mind,Speakeasy Toastmasters issues an invitation to our first meeting of 2018. It takes place on Thursday,11th January in the Hibernian Hotel,Mallow at 8.00pm.
Guests will not be obliged to speak unless they wish to do so. We look forward to seeing you on Thursday night.
For more information on Toastmasters, please check out our website or look us up on Facebook. Alternatively,contact Helsa Giles -083-88588848.

Monday, January 01, 2018

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 and valuable 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 to enhance their social and conversational skills.Sometimes, gaining a new competency can be both satisfying and fun!

Speakeasy Toastmasters has been to the forefront in providing communication training in the North Cork Area for 25 years . Since October 1992, when the first meeting was held in the Hibernian Hotel, Mallow, Speakeasy has enabled it's members to flourish.We don'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 confidence.

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.

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 the first 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 2018. It takes place in The Hibernian Hotel ,Mallow on Thursday,11th January 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.