Club president Mary Whelan congratulating John Quirke on winning the clubs topics competition
Club president Mary Whelan congratulating John Quirke on winning the clubs topics competition

With the month of November we have reached the dark time of the year, but a very bright and

pleasant time at Fermoy Toastmasters, an opportunity to fire the imagination, to make and listen to the joy of human speech, stimulated by new thoughts and fresh ideas, above all to be among so many dear and wonderful friends in a warm and convivial atmosphere, sharing in the music of laughter and to be inspired by what we can all do coming together in generosity of spirit and mutual support. All this in a warm, comfortable and brightly-lit meeting room with tea and coffee served half-ways through with the pleasure of genial conversation and cordial social interaction. These are the things that delight the heart and bring us comfort and cheer and make life so amply well worth the living whether now and at all times of the year.

Our President, Mary Whelan, welcomed all with sentiments of kindness, grace and charm that instantly had all at their ease and in the frame of mind to enjoy and to participate fully in the programme ahead. Control was passed to the Toastmaster of the evening, Kevin Walsh, who guided proceedings along with gently but enthusiastically. The topics session was conducted by Kieran Connolly who offered a lovely selection of subjects avoiding the great controversies of our time in favour of such human and appealing aspects of everyday life ranging from Fermoy recently winning the County Final to getting over the ‘flu, from sketching your dream holiday and on to hair-styling, to mention but a few, with everyone getting involved, having something to say, humour to share and wisdom to impart, leaving us with something valuable and enriching to take away home with us later. Every initial response is of two minutes’ duration with add-ons of one minute or so with Jerry Hennessy our diligent time-keeper ringing the bell to mark the precious interlude that accords to each their right to speak and be heard while signalling the courtesy of concluding your remarks to give someone else a chance.

Membership of Toastmasters teaches you so much about life and how to be happy in it. You learn to appreciate yourself and others in a deeper and very special way, each making a unique and special contribution while always drawing pleasure, inspiration and enjoyment from the efforts, talents and accomplishments of your fellow members and friends. The whole concept is so beautifully and ingeniously balanced in such an effective and harmonious way. In coming to our meetings, we leave behind a pressurised world and enter into a relaxed and happy place where we can all truly be ourselves and find new wellsprings of originality and success that is so pleasantly satisfying and fulfilling. You have only to ask of yourself to give it a go. It is always so easy to find excuses for doing nothing. But if you are prepared to answer the challenge and are prepared to think, speak and listen in a new and vibrant way, you will be most pleased and delighted by the personal rewards that come your way. Everyone has so much good and truth and humanity to give, so many stories to tell and ideas to share. This is the forum where direct communication brings out the best in us all like nothing else can.

We were blessed by three excellent speeches, beginning with our cherished friend Mairead Barry telling us her personal view of the sufferings and sacrifices of the generation who exactly a century ago bore the horrors of the Great War. In a deeply poignant and moving presentation, she told us of how right and proper it is to honour the memory of the fallen of that terrible war, counting its terrible cost, admiring the bravery of those who fought, drawing lessons from the arrogance and folly that makes wars possible, celebrating the power to heal and forgive in goodness and compassion that builds a peace and better world for the generations to come. Michael Sheehan gave a well-crafted and researched talk told us of Horrible And Not So Horrible Histories, taking us on a very seasonal and appropriate journey through the traditions of Halloween and also evoking the other great moment of significance that week in Guy Fawkes Night, a traditional time in England for celebratory fireworks marking the failure of the Gunpowder Plot and the triumph of the Protestant Reformation, even if in today’s very changed world Fawkes has now become an ambiguous symbol of opposition to all forms of intolerance and conformism.

Finally, a very welcoming visiting member from Mallow Club, Helsa Giles, dressed with impeccable style and elegance serving to underscore her telling of the early life of the great French fashion icon, entrepreneur and perfumier, Coco Chanel, in her extraordinary rise from abject poverty to great wealth and acclaim, a magnificent testimony to the power of the human spirit told with winning directness, clarity and grace by Helsa, whom we look forward to seeing again very soon.

All of our speakers on the night were well evaluated in turn by Fanahan Colbert, Johanna Hegarty and Eilish Ui Bhriain, with an overall summation from the general evaluator John Kelly.

At 7.30 pm on this Friday, November 14th, a special commemorative Mass for all deceased members of the very many clubs and association in Fermoy will be held in St. Patrick’s Church, in which Fermoy Toastmasters will be represented and a Candle Of Remembrance will be placed on the altar with the names of those no longer with us but whose memories we treasure, including inter alia Niall Brunicardi, Padraig O’Braoin, Pat Noonan, Oliver Langley and Eilish Dunlea.  We salute their dedication and service and from their heavenly home they smile upon and bless the ongoing mission and life of the club they loved so much and enhanced so greatly. The story continues next Tuesday evening, November 18th, in the Grand Hotel, at 8.15 pm. For further information, please contact Fanahan Colbert at 086 8239007 or Kevin Walsh at 058 60100.