Club Contest 2019


Mary Whelan is congratulated by President John Kelly as Winner of the Club Humorous Contest.

 Toastmaster enjoyed another milestone occasion on the evening of Tuesday, October 29th, at the riverside Youth Centre for the annual Humorous Speech and Topics Contest.   A warm welcome was extended by President John Kelly who referred to the unavoidable absence of some of our dear friends through the complexities of everyday life. But over the years one of the most striking features of our club and the reason why it has survived and flourished over half a century which is such an astonishing and wonderful achievement, is the depth, the richness and the greatness of heart and spirit which animates it and which time and again has seen it overcome all vicissitudes and emerge stronger, better and happier than ever before. There is nothing else but to get on with it and if that is an ever successful rule of Toastmasters so it is in our daily living also. You don’t lie down under adversity, you rise to meet it by keeping going, doing your best and with laughter and smiles you will travel so much longer and farther on an ever pleasant and rewarding journey.

     David Walsh was once again called upon to play the role of Contest Chairman this year for his excellent track record in keeping everything going and running strictly to time which he did on that Tuesday evening with all of his skill, directness and aplomb. Before speakers rise to the challenge of delivering brief but highly entertaining talks from the lectern there is a need to settle the meeting and foster a genial and receptive atmosphere as the Topicsmaster Kevin O’Neil so effectively did with a selection of subjects and gentle challenges that got everyone actively participating and involved and building a warm and encouraging feeling that brings out the best in all. This is the essence of Toastmasters: being active and playing your part to the fullest in every way you can. There is no sitting around doing nothing for everyone has a contribution to make and something unique and invaluable to offer. And the more you take part and share your talents and enthusiasm and the unique life experiences and insight that everyone has, the more benefit and enjoyment you will derive from it.  There would be no point in joining a fitness club just to sit back and watch others working out in the gym. The same thing here: for this is exercise of the mind and stimulus of the creative powers of every individual to express their thoughts and views in the elegance and beauty of the spoken word. Try A Taste Of Toastmasters with a good heart and sincere conviction in the warmth of mutual friendship and support and you will be astonished by the colour and joy that will fill the garden of your life even in these drab grey days of the depths of winter.

    We had four lovely and very enjoyable humorous speeches beginning with Eilish Ui Bhriain who recalled a West Cork worshipper who was invariably late for Mass and often came with the smell of strong beverages on his breath much to the chagrin of a certain pious strait-laced nun beside whom he sat during a parish mission way back in those days when such occasions attracted congregations as amply overflowing as he was in terms of alcohol content. Inevitably he dozed during the long ceremony until the rousing words of ‘Christ Has Died/, Christ Is Risen/, Christ Will Come Again’, stirred him to a brief waking moment of zeal with the loud exclamation, ‘And fair play to him’!  Eilish has a wonderful talent of seeing humour in the world around her and bringing us all into it with a gentle winning smile and an engaging charm and grace that makes for such a great joy and pleasure. Then we had Kevin Walsh recalling some humorous moments from his schooldays not least when he mentioned one teacher’s attempts to describe various maladies through Irish and spilling the contents of an inkwell that saw him quite literally blotting his copybook. He concluded by saying that the school around the corner is no longer is just the same and times have changed and thank God for it too!

    With her gentle and mellifluous enunciation and lightness of touch, Mary Whelan took us back to her days of learning the arts of cookery which is always a subject that lends itself readily to humour as the blending and mixing of ingredients can so easily go awry in the unpractised hand of the novice with all kinds of hilarious results. Aged just twelve at the time and obliged to wear a vastly outsized ankle-length overall, Mary told of that first heroic attempt to make bacon and eggs for with everything we do in life there is that moment of palpitating panic when we must do it for the very first time and this was conveyed with warmth and eagerness and a sense of how when culinary creations boil over and spill then too there is learning and improvement and the road opens towards proficiency and skill.  This was followed by Michael Sheehan with his own unique brand of wry wit telling of a holiday break he took in the Centre Parks complex in the midlands where among so many other pursuits he turned his hand at crazy pitch-and-putt which he graphically illustrated with the use of a putting club and taking from a plastic bag and holding to the light a perforated pair of trousers that recorded the attainment of a hole in one. And that is what comedy is truly about: looking at life in just a slightly different angle and capturing something of its intrinsic absurdity to bring forth the beautiful and relaxing music of laughter.

     After a genial tea break, we had a short topics contest in which participants retired from the meeting room and were then recalled back in one by one to speak on a subject about which they had no prior notice: Michael Sheehan, Denis O’Brien and Kevin Walsh addressed the topic of with life so short, why is it that we have to spend so much time doing things we don’t like and so little doing that which we most enjoy. Each offered their own insights but in overall terms the feeling was that this life short as it is yet it is all we have for now so we can do no other than to make the best of it. Even if many obstacles prevent us from following all of our dreams there is no need for disappointment, we find other sources of comfort and reward and fulfilment along the way not least in the company and the joy of friends together which makes our living so much more pleasant and worthwhile as exemplified not least by our sharing in the life-enhancing pleasures of Toastmasters.

     So after the judges had cast their votes in brief silent interludes and these were then counted outside the room, the results were announced: Kevin Walsh and Denis O’Brien in the Topics category and Mary Whelan and Eilish Ui Bhriain in the Humorous Speeches as First and Second respectively will take part in the next Area round of competition to he held on this coming Tuesday, November 12th, at 8.15 pm in the Fermoy Youth Centre which promises to be a memorably entertaining and merry evening. For further information please contact Fanahan Colbert on 086 8239007 or Kevin Walsh on 087 1228684 or look up our website on

Kevin is congratulated by John Kelly as Winner of the Table Topics Contest. The warmth of their long friendship can be readily seen here.