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Irish Eyes

By Mattie Lennon

Competent Communicatiors, Trump and Olive Bayle

This beautiful poem was sent to me and I thing it is an appropriate time to pass it on, It is by Mario de Andrade (San Paolo 1893-1945) Poet, novelist, essayist and musicologist. One of the founders of Brazilian modernism.


I counted my years
& realized that I have
Less time to live by,
Than I have lived so far.

I feel like a child who won a pack of candies:
at first he ate them with pleasure
But when he realized that there was little left,
he began to taste them intensely.

I have no time for endless meetings
where the statutes, rules, procedures &
internal regulations are discussed,
knowing that nothing will be done.

I no longer have the patience
To stand absurd people who,
despite their chronological age,
have not grown up.

My time is too short:
I want the essence,
my spirit is in a hurry.
I do not have much candy
In the package anymore.

I want to live next to humans,
very realistic people who know
How to laugh at their mistakes,
Who are not inflated by their own triumphs
& who take responsibility for their actions.
In this way, human dignity is defended
and we live in truth and honesty.

It is the essentials that make life useful.
I want to surround myself with people
who know how to touch the hearts of those
whom the hard strokes of life have learned
to grow with sweet touches of the soul.

Yes, I'm in a hurry.
I'm in a hurry to live with the intensity
that only maturity can give.
I do not intend to waste any of the remaining desserts.

I am sure they will be exquisite,
much more than those eaten so far.
My goal is to reach the end satisfied
and at peace with my loved ones and my conscience.

We have two lives
& the second begins when you realize you only have one.

By Mario de Andrade (San Paolo 1893-1945)

* * * * *

The introduction of Toastmasters to Ireland was completely independent of developments in Britain. Paddy Cunningham, the founding father of the Dublin 2601 club, has described how it came about in his book, “Toastmasters.... A Difficult Pregnancy”..

In 1953, an unsigned letter appeared in the Evening Mail bemoaning the fact that Ireland, home of some world famous orators, such as Edmund Burke, had not even one club to train people in this sought after art. He was quickly identified as Ernest Bray, a member of Toastmasters Club 111 from San Pedro, California, an Irish American home for a few weeks on holiday. Paddy Cunningham met up with him while Mr Bray was on his way to the airport to return home. (Two years earlier Paddy and his friends George Coughlan and Joe Farrell launched the Dublin Speakers Club which met weekly. This club only lasted for one year but, in that short time, it showed a large interest in the art of public speaking.) At his brief meeting with Ernest Bray the seed of setting up a toastmasters club was sown.)

In 1955, Paddy was invited to present a Public Speaking course in Rathmines High School of Commerce. This was repeated in 1956 with even greater numbers. By early 1957, thoughts began about how pupils, who had completed the course, could maintain contact through some type of organisation. In 1957, as interest grew in public speaking in Dublin, Paddy remembered his conversation with Ernest Bray, made contact with the Home Office in California and was was quickly provided with a Prospect Kit, some information on Toastmaster meetings and programmes and a separate guide for each officer. An organising committee was soon formed and held its first meeting in Paddy’s home, Meath House, Stillorgan, on Saturday May 25th 1957. After a planning meeting on June 20th, the first regular meeting, of Toastmasters, in Ireland took place in the Grosvenor Hotel, Westland Row. The name Dublin Toastmasters Club was approved.

Things appeared to by running smoothly and plans were drawn up for a history making charter dinner in October, or early November. However, there was a fly in the ointment. It transpired that women were not allowed to be members of a toastmasters club and a letter from District 18 Governor, Ian D. McIntyre, confirming his attendance at the charter celebrations, contained the following paragraph:

“The Charter Dinner is usually treated as a social occasion, distinct from any regular meetings; some clubs encourage Members to bring along friends (in some instances, including the ladies).”

An Extraordinary General Meeting was immediately called and a decision made to fight this discrimination. Men and women who had stood side by side in the earlier public speaking classes were now being asked to go their separate ways. Voluminous correspondence between the Home Office, and Paddy Cunningham ensued. First there was a total refusal on the part of TI to even contemplate the possibility of ladies having any role in a club. The Bible was quoted. A suggestion by the club that TI interpret “man” in the Biblical sense, covering all mankind and thus permitting women members fell on deaf ears. It was, however, a smart move. A letter from the Home Office

January 9th, 1958, seemed to indicate the end was nigh. The final paragraph stated, “If, as you suggest, you must have a Toastmasters Club on the terms you propose, and nothing else, we will return to you the funds you have submitted with regret that neither you nor we may benefit from the association we would be pleased to establish.”

But an earlier letter dated November 27th, 1957 seemed to offer a sort of “back door.”

It said “It is within the proper bounds of local club autonomy and policy to invite women to participate in its meetings and programmes even though they are not toastmaster club members and cannot vote.”

Between loopholes, nods and winks there are now 125 Toastmaster Clubs and the majority of members appear to be women.

People join Toastmasters become members for different reasons but I have yet to meet a person who was sorry that they joined.

Cecilia Carragher says, ‘I found myself constantly trying to avoid having to present to groups of people in work, I always waited for someone else to volunteer. Our CEO where I was working was an excellent speaker. I mentioned this to my coach at the time and how I would love to be more confident speaking and presenting to people. He told me about Toastmasters, I had never heard of it. I looked it up and my nearest club was Lucan so off I went the following Thursday night with a friend. We received the warmest of welcomes from the president at the time Ray Cotter. We thoroughly enjoyed the night so we went back for more 2 weeks later. We signed up and after a short time and delivering a few speeches, I found myself becoming more confident. I learned so much from the feedback I received each time I gave a speech and also from the experienced speakers in the club and most importantly I had fun in learning! I am now very comfortable presenting to people thanks to toastmasters and I have received great feedback on my presenting skills. Toastmasters gave me the confidence to speak in public’.

Globetrotter, Sean Lyons, a Mayo man now living in Kerry told me, “ One of my proudest achievements in Toastmasters is that I have delivered speeches on five continents. When I won the International Humourous Speech competition, I was invited to clubs all over Ireland and England. Prior to that, I was living in Australia. While a member of various clubs, from Sydney to sun drenched Kiama, I spoke, evaluated, timed and counted ems and ahs.

In Korea, I managed to include a trip to the DMZ and a speech at Seoul Toastmasters, while in Gambia, I enjoyed many visits to the appropriately named Inspired club. The young members of this group see the organisation as part of their training to become the future leaders of Africa.

In the Sandpipers club in California, I met leaders who have helped build Toastmasters into the success it is today. Toastmasters is a global family.”

Even the global pandemic hasn’t beaten the Toastmasters of Ireland. Tom O’ Donovan says, “I joined Lucan Toastmasters in February 2020 just before the COVID pandemic forced the country into lockdown. Therefore, my experience with Toastmasters has been completely online through Zoom. However, I do not believe this has impacted on my enjoyment of being a member. My reasons for joining Toastmasters were to improve my communication skills, meet new people and basically, have a new challenge. So far, I have found it a very positive experience. The most surprising aspect has been how much I have enjoyed listening to other members' speeches. The speeches can range from humorous to serious topics to educational. You rarely come away from a toastmasters meeting without learning something new, which can only have a positive impact on your self-development. In summary, I have found Lucan Toastmasters a friendly, positive supportive environment.”

* * * * *

Folk-singer and recording artist Olive Bayle was born in Rathcoole, County Dublin on 11th November 1946 and died at her home in Toronto on January 04th 2005. In between she became famous on both sides of the Atlantic; first in Ireland, during the ballad boom in sixties Ireland. And later in North America. Councillor Gerry O ‘Neill suggests that she should, now, be commemorated in her native Rathcoole. I think it’s a brilliant idea. Any suggestions?

* * * * *

There is jubilation in the Emerald Isle now that Joe Biden is President of the USA. If you are short on facts about his predecessor’s background I suggest you read Mary Trump’s book Too Much and Never Enough.

* * * * *

February 16th is Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day.) So, to help remind you, here is a little pic.

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