Hello October at Fermoy Toastmasters.

Fermoy Toastmasters said Hello to October on Tuesday, the 1st of the month, at the riverside Youth Centre for the third meeting of the current season. On our way in we heard a sound long familiar for generations but which more recently has become conspicuous by its silent absence: after heavy rains the roar of cascading waters over the weir once again. Club President John Kelly extended a very warm welcome to all who had assembled at a time when the country was preparing to face the onslaught of Storm Lorenzo but now in this relaxed and genial ambience we could put all of that aside and concentrate on having a couple of hours of relaxed pleasure and enjoyment.

     David Walsh then assumed the chairmanship of the meeting in his capacity as Toastmaster of the meeting, introducing the speakers and making very effective link-ins after each presentation so that everything went ahead smoothly and seamlessly making for a memorably successful evening. Conor McAree fresh from stage speeches at the two preceding meetings took on the challenge of topicsmaster, bringing forward a series of very stimulating and engaging themes that quickly got everyone involved, thinking on their feet and actively contributing which is such a brilliant mental exercise keeping the thought-processes nimble, ready and agile just as physical exercise maintains the body in good shape. We are as individuals a combination of mind and body and we must take good care of both and do everything in our power to keep them trim and active ensuring a healthy and fulfilling life.

     With his ever relaxed and easy style Conor’s selection was based on the everyday things of life as we all know and experience it. A topic raised on the issue of favourite hobbies evoked a very nice response from our President John Kelly on his enjoyment of a good walk each day with fresh air and the pleasure of meeting people. Contributions on the role of social media emphasised that technology can never replace the warmth and cheer and geniality of direct human interaction. Mention also of the traditional Irish breakfast brought a lovely contribution from Eilish Ui Bhriain evoking a vivid word picture of childhood days with the teapot steaming over the fire with its daily promise of a heart-warming and optimistic beginning to every day.  Under the careful timekeeping of Mary Whelan, members also engaged on the theme of traditional high street shops as opposed to the enormous increase in the volume of online shopping and again an emphasis was placed on the need to find a balance between the new high-tech commerce and the invaluable human interaction that has always lain at the heart of trade and business. These and so many more subjects created a bright and feisty mood in the room that is an essential and vital ingredient in the making of a successful and productive meeting.

     The seating had been rearranged earlier to facilitate a wide-screen power-point presentation by Fanahan Colbert on a subject already touched upon: the parlous condition of the Fermoy weir. Lights were dimmed and beautiful colour images of the river filled the room with a richly delightful cinematic effect as Fanahan gave a fascinating and detailed account of how this great artefact of Fermoy’s industrial heritage originally built to feed water to the millrace then evolved to become a truly majestic centrepiece of the town. Now after years of neglect and indifference it has sadly fallen into an advanced state of dilapidation. Acquired by the old Urban Council in 1988 for what was then regarded as the bargain sum of £500, now the restoration of the weir requires millions but the State having expended astronomical sums on providing elaborate flood defences is not inclined to look upon it very favourably. Moreover some public bodies – like the Inland Fisheries Board – are opposed to the continued existence of weirs altogether as they slow down the flow of water and diminish oxygen for fish life. Fanahan’s presentation was an important and valuable contribution to the debate on the future of this significant local landmark.

     Kevin Walsh then gave a speech on the theme of forgiveness. Recalling the starring role of Audrey Hepburn in the classic movie The Nun’s Story which charted one sister’s long years of chafing under the restrictions of the contemplative life were brought to a head when her beloved medical doctor father was killed by the Nazis during the Second World War. She then found it impossible to find forgiveness in her heart and left the cloisters for participation in the Belgian Resistance movement to fight for freedom and revenge. He contrasted this with the real life experience of Gordon Wilson during the Northern Troubles who on the evening after his beloved daughter Marie had been killed in the dreadful bomb attack on the Remembrance Day commemoration in Enniskillen in November 1987, publicly forgave those responsible and went on to become a tireless worker for peace and reconciliation to the end of his days, a shining example of goodness and decency against hatred and violence.

    Finally and by way of complete contrast, Jerry Hennessy set himself the daunting challenge of making laughter by regaling us with a sparkling selection of comic vignettes most memorably and hilariously concerning a young Irishman who having emigrated to England was asked by his Mother to procure for her a pair of drawers in which necessity in her particular size she found herself chronically undersupplied. Believing that there is nothing like seeking the very best, the young man went to Harrods of London where having caused the staff no end of mirth he at last succeeded in his lingerie quest. In addition he also purchased a pair of fine leather gloves as a gift for a young lady who had recently taken his fancy. Both items were duly gift-wrapped with letter enclosed to his girlfriend expressing the hope that she would like to show them off at a forthcoming Irish social. Unsurprisingly the parcels were mixed-up with all the confusion of real life comedy. The ensuing hilarious results may not have entirely pleased the two ladies concerned but convulsed our meeting in uproarious laughter.

      Each speaker received thoughtful and positive evaluations respectively from Michael Sheehan, Denis O’Brien and Eilish Ui Bhriain and a very fine overall assessment form General Evaluator Frank O’Driscoll. And so another meeting concluded with looking ahead to the pleasure and joy of the next one for this coming Tuesday, October 15th, at 8.15 pm in the Fermoy Youth Centre.  For further information please contact Fanahan Colbert on 086 8239007 or Kevin Walsh on 087 1228684