The Fermoy Toastmasters Club came together for their second meeting of the current autumn season at the Grand Hotel, Fermoy, on the evening of Tuesday, September 23rd.
Our gatherings commence on time at 8.15 pm and we ensure their completion just two hours later which allows scope for each to make their individual contributions and to share in the listening pleasure of the meeting in all its richness and diversity, returning home feeling pleased and happy for having been there. There are corporate clubs – especially in America and a few even here in Ireland – who meet in the early morning to fire people up for the challenges of the working day ahead. But we in Fermoy and indeed in most clubs, see our organisation as a place of leisure and recreation, of entertainment and conviviality, an activity of the evening time, those gentle mellow hours that can so often be the very best part of the day when the demands of care and responsibility are set aside so that all may relax and enjoy an interlude of eloquence and friendship, of social interaction and positive self-learning in a fun and pleasurable way.
Our President Mary Whelan extended a warm and hearty welcome, setting the keynote for the gathering with all of her great kindness and warmth that instantly sets everyone at their ease and in a receptive frame of mind for what is to follow. The whole essence of what we do is based on a ready generosity of spirit for we are all here to build each other up, to be with dear friends and to achieve personal growth through rewarding and fulfilling meetings.
On behalf of all the members, our President extended a special expression of sympathy to Michael Sheehan on the recent passing away from this life of his dear mother Theresa, who was a most pleasant and gracious lady whose memory will always be most highly cherished and treasured. Our thoughts are with Michael at this sad time and it was indeed so very gratifying to see him with us that evening and to welcome him most warmly to our meeting.
Johanna Hegarty as toastmaster of the evening conducted the proceedings with admirable verve and panache that was highly motivational and uplifting. David Walsh acted as topicsmaster presenting a selection of themes and challenges to the membership that evoked a bracing, thoughtful and engaging response. The purpose of topics is to get everyone actively involved and thinking on their feet as they speak briefly but off the cuff on a subject about which they have received no prior notification. No one is left out and indeed particular care is taken to ensure that those members or visitors from other clubs who are not on the programme are given their chance to have their voices heard. Participation and involvement are at the heart of all that we do. A meeting has not delivered on its promise if even one member is left in silence. Guests are of course never asked to speak although if the spirit so moves them at the appropriate time, we are delighted to hear from them. As topics progress, a scintillating atmosphere develops with a powerful sense of horizons expanded with thoughts flowing freely and all becoming fully engaged. David’s selection of topics ranged from the decline of Cork GAA, winning the National Lottery, the legacy of Ian Paisley, while the imposition of water charges drew a very wide and lively great response.
We had two very beautiful and very different set speeches. The first was from Eilis Ui Bhriain who have a lovely and gentle presentation on the place in Irish life and culture of the bicycle, especially the old traditional High Nellie, telling of how if these fine old machines could talk they would have many a good story to tell. Not least of romantic evenings when young people rode home from the dance hall on the handlebars full of the joys of life. Nowadays an enterprising Englishman, Marty Mainwaring, is running a thriving business in Cappamore restoring old High Nellies brought to him from all over the country, some dredged up from the bottom of rivers and canals, for while the accessories may be lost to rust and time, the steel chassis is almost indestructible and from this such fine old machines can be recalled to their former glory. A really lovely speech, told with so much charm, grace and human warmth that makes every visit Eilis makes to the lectern so special and outstanding.
One of our new members, James Keating, took us to meet the Three Wise Men: not the Christmas kings from an Orient land, but the three great sages of soccer punditry, John Giles, Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady who filled our screens during last summer’s World Cup as they have done through so many momentous football tournaments over the years. James marshalled an impressive array of biographical facts about these great luminaries of the sport and how their many differences of style and personality gives their TV panel analysis such a winning edge like no other in the world for their noteworthy frankness and passion for the game. They are James’ heroes and he told their story in a very measured, succinct and elegant style that gave us all a refreshing and new depth of insight into individuals who have become such a familiar, sometimes controversial but always much loved part of our popular culture.
Our speakers then received the wisdom, advice, praise and constructive encouragement of evaluators Fanahan Colbert and John Quirke. None of us are on our own: we learn from each other in friendship and respect, exchanging ideas and understanding in the ever greater advancement of our craft. And the more we share, the more we gain in enjoyment. We hope that you will come along to share in the pleasure and laughter of our Humorous Speech and Topics Contest that will be held on Tuesday evening next, October 7th, at 8.15 in the Grand Hotel. We look forward to seeing you. For further information, please contact Fanahan Colbert at 086 8239007 or Kevin Walsh at 058 60100 or log on to toastmastersfermoy.com or find us on Twitter @ FermoyT.