Members enjoying themselves at a rescent meeting
Members enjoying themselves at a rescent meeting

The Fermoy Toastmasters Club came to their penultimate meeting of the current season at the Grand Hotel, on the evening of Tuesday, April 29th. It was so cheering to hear the exuberant buzz of chatter punctuated by peals of laughter coming from the meeting room. Our season may have almost run its course, but there was no sense at all of winding down. Instead there was the same vigour and enthusiasm, of the energy that comes of people assembled for recreation and discovery that makes all of our gatherings so memorably pleasant and richly fulfilling.
Our President, Jerry Hennessy, welcomed the large attendance and for the second consecutive occasion had the very special pleasure of formally welcoming another new member to our ranks in Patrick Kavanagh to whose active participation and joining with us in mutual friendship and good will is something to which we eagerly look forward.
Our Toastmaster of the evening, Frank O’Driscoll, greeted the members and guests with his warm engaging smile that is the universal language of his very special and unique kindness. If life is a circle, so too, as Frank pointed out, we have now once again come the whole way round, setting out now to our meetings in broad daylight and going home after night has descended just as we did at the outset last September.
One of our newest members, James Keating, made a very impressive debut in the role of topicsmaster, and did a truly magnificent job by presenting us with a very stimulating and thought-provoking set of themes that made for a brilliant atmosphere that brought out the best in everyone. The most memorable of all was the response of John Kelly to the issue of what was the best advice he had ever received, telling us of how he had learned the wisdom of always being yourself which formed the basis of a contribution with a powerful Shakespearean ring – ‘ to thine own self be true’ – to be happy with the person that you are and thus presenting a true and sincere and kindly face to the world, enabling you to overcome life’s testing moments and finding within yourself that warmth and serenity of a nature fully at peace. This struck a deep and resonant chord with his listeners and was a moment of deeply-felt illumination that won for John the blue ribbon for Best Topic of the evening and it could not have been conferred on a more richly deserving Toastmaster or better and dearer friend to us all.
The stage was then well set for three outstanding prepared speeches. John Sherlock came to the lectern telling of how his club membership has brought him to a new and life-enhancing appreciation of poetry, which he then went on to affirm and celebrate with a spirited and entertaining reading of ‘The Cremation of Sam McGee’, by Robert W. Service, the classic English-Canadian poet whose experiences as a prospector in the Yukon at the height of the Gold Rush was the inspiration of his vigorously descriptive verse portraying the adventures and hardships of those who lived through that era, none more so than in this masterpiece with its economical clarity and vein of dark comedy. As the evaluator, Mary Murphy, rightly said in her assessment, John used the rhythm of the words to glorious effect and it was a pure joy to listen to.
Johanna Hegarty took us on a vastly different journey through the world of DIY and a light-hearted telling of the installation of a shower unit in her home and its accompanying travails. Her evaluator, John Kelly, in his later summing up expressed appreciation of the humour of the unlikely coming of the contractor to resolve the difficulties on of all days a Sunday morning. To escape further dust and disruption made church-going an even greater pleasure. Johanna’s speech was a delightful gem: funny, entertaining and well-paced, delivered with a zestful and ebullient style that showed that if you can get through the ordeal of home improvements with a smile and a laugh, you can get through anything.
Finally, we had Fanahan Colbert’s presentation on the significance of what is in a name. He spoke of how our names are usually a rich telling of our family history and then broadened his theme to encompass great historical and entertainment figures, including George De Valera, born in New York in 1882, who many years later in Ireland changed his name to Edward, or the more Gaelic form of Eamon by which he became familiar to history. If Popes assume new names upon election, so do entertainers have to use a name that is readily attractive to the public – Fanahan cited famous examples such as Thomas Woodward better known as Tom Jones, or Archibald Leach taking on the name and persona of the suave debonair Bristol-born film star Cary Grant.
Most remarkable of all was JR Cash who was christened merely with those initials. When he entered the American military in the Second World War, they insisted he bear the name Johnny, even though he already had a brother named Jack. And thus he passed into singing and performing legend, appearing on stage with his guitar with the words ‘I’m Johnny Cash’, to the accompaniment of thunderous cheers and applause. This was a beautiful and well-researched speech with a very fine use of the flip chart that received hearty approbation from evaluator John Quirke.
Then came the final wise words of summation from our general evaluator Michael Sheehan pointing to our next and final meeting of the season when the members of the outgoing committee will render account for their stewardship for the past year before proceeding to the election of their successors for the following twelve months. It is an example of one of the purest forms of democracy in action and an occasion to celebrate past achievements and especially those of the last year while planning and looking ahead to even better and more rewarding days to come when we meet for our AGM on Tuesday evening next, May 13th, in the Grand Hotel, Fermoy, at 8.15 pm. 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