Guest Division B (South West Ireland)

By Barry Lyons, Division B Director

Hello fellow toastmasters. You are very welcome to Division B guest contribution to this Month’s D71 magazine. I had the great honour of attending the D71 Conference in Norwich which took place recently. What a wonderful occasion it was and congratulations to all involved in running a super conference. Well done to the local Norwich club and the district leadership team in producing a wonderful event. Our division B contestants Jane Sheehan and Pat Sexton did their families, clubs, areas and division proud. They surely gave their personal best performances on stage and I am very proud of them as our Division B representatives. I had the privilege of interviewing the candidates during the candidate showcase and I also had the honour of being contest chair for the Humorous speech final. The power of the toastmasters’ programme helped me to perform this role and I am living proof that anything is possible once you put your mind to it.

Division B straddles most of the province of Munster in the South West of Ireland comprising counties Kerry, Cork (North of the river Blackwater), Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary. Noted for its tradition in Irish folk music, and with many ancient castles and monasteries in the province, Munster is a tourist’s paradise destination. Of course, rugby has also put the province on the map and hopefully this will continue.

The Division is divided into 4 areas:

  • Area 13 – Shannon, Raheen, Kilrush and Ennis. Area Director Donnacha Smyth.
  • Area 17 – Fermoy, Failte, Speak Easy. Area Director Helsa Giles.
  • Area 24 – Limerick, Nenagh, Thomond, Killaloe, Roscrea. Area Director Rose Walsh.
  • Area 36 – Tralee, Killarney, West Limerick, Listowel, Dell, Fexco. Area Director Derry Butler.

Listowel has just chartered this year and I spent a wonderful evening in their company last Friday night the 3rd of May as they celebrated this great achievement. Home of the late great playwriter JB Keane Listowel should thrive as a Toastmasters club due to the natural talent that I witnessed on Friday. More on this below from the clubs VPPR Tom Dillon.

All clubs are trying their best to keep toastmasters alive in their area and it can be difficult at times to keep the momentum going especially if you lose some members. There is a lot of transition nowadays in the work scene and this can be felt when it comes to membership retention. The decline in rural population is also posing difficulties as is the new Pathways programme. Clubs might struggle to reach goal targets for the next year or so while the transition takes place. Tom O Keeffe President of the Limerick club has put a lot of work into promoting Pathways. We also held area information nights between clubs with members bringing along their laptops and going through the process live. This was very helpful to members.

However, there are ways to enhance recruitment of members and word of mouth is probably one of the best ways to do so. Another great way to spread the word is the youth leadership programme. See below the article from the Nenagh club in relation to this. Nenagh is one of the top clubs in the Division now and I’m sure they are getting a spin off from all their hard work.

At this stage of the season I would ask all clubs to take stock of where their club is at right now and consider the following: Is your club in good standing, are you fulfilling the toastmaster promise and mission, are you doing everything possible to promote the benefits of toastmasters and opening your club’s doors to the possibility of recruiting new members. Are you looking to put a strong executive in place and shake things up a little so that each member gets a chance to grow and develop?

Is there an element of – all is fine, we have adequate members, we have a cosy set up, we don’t want to change the present situation.

New members bring energy to a club and it is important that we all do our best to reach out to the huge potential of possible members that reside in and around our clubs.

Two very successful Divisional Contests were held over the year and a very high standard was witnessed by all who attended. Toastmasters is playing a huge part in developing our members in their public speaking, presenting, creativity and excellent leadership skills development. It was great to have Brenda Lannon and Daniel Sandars along as District representatives at our contest Finals.

Listowel Toastmasters raise a toast to their new club

By Tom Dillon, VPPR

Listowel Toastmasters held a charter dinner on Friday May 3rd to celebrate its establishment as a new Toastmasters club.

The charter dinner was attended by over 30 people including members of Listowel Toastmasters and friends from other clubs in Killarney, Tralee, West Limerick and Shannon.

Renowned for writers and poets such as John B. Keane and Brendan Kennelly, the creativity which has earned Listowel its distinction as the literary capital of Ireland helped make the night one to remember.

Members gave poetry readings specially composed for the occasion while there were also songs, jokes, funny poems and magic tricks.

President of Listowel Toastmasters John O’Connor paid tribute to the committee, club members and members of the neighbouring clubs who helped bring about the foundation of the new club which was officially chartered in March 2019.

Encouraging words for the future were given by Patricia O’Reilly, District 71 Director, who addressed the gathering along with Larry Lyons, Division B Director; Derry Butler, Area 36 Director and Gerard Mannix, Club Growth Director.

Listowel Toastmasters meets on the second and fourth Thursday of each month with a number of open nights held each year in the iconic John B. Keane’s bar.

Youth Leadership Program

by John Spillane Nenagh Toastmasters Club

Nenagh toastmasters have been delivering a youth leadership program for almost 30 years. The program was started by members who recognised the benefits of the Toastmasters communication and leadership program for transition year (TY) students.

This year a team of 7 toastmasters delivered the course to 130 students across 6 classes in two schools. Two toastmasters typically take one double class per week in place of the students regular English class. The first class is an introduction to the various toastmaster roles, combined with a talk on the benefits of being able to communicate effectively. All subsequent classes are conducted by the students as per a normal Toastmasters meeting with the Toastmasters limiting their input to short speech evaluations and guidance. We give a certificate at the end to each student. The success of the course is obvious by the time its finished as each student will have delivered two or more short 2-3-minute speeches and answered several topics. Others will have had leadership roles such as Toastmaster or Topics-master.

Our experience over the years means that we have streamlined the course to be easy to deliver while making it a rewarding experience for both the toastmaster and the students.

The A Team that deliver the Youth Programme in Nenagh

Heading to Norwich

Representing Division B at the Norwich Conference are Jane Sheehan, Killarney Toastmasters in The International Speech Contest and Pat Sexton, Speakeasy Toastmasters in the Table Topics and Evaluation Contests. Pictured with Sean Corcoran, President Speakeasy Toastmasters.

Going’s on at Speak Easy Mallow

Literary Speaking

Speakeasy Toastmasters annual Theme Night was an absolute treat for bookworms and members alike. Club members presented wonderful interpretative readings from famous Irish writers and former Club members who had stories published.

From Left – Liam Flynn, MC, Bobby Buckley, Sean Corcoran, Noel O’Connor, Michael Cronin, Pat Sexton, event curator. Seated – Anne Buckley, Loretto Barry, Bridie O’Connell and Deirdre Linehan.

Conclusion

I wish to thank all who helped me throughout the year and to the Area Directors for their input in keeping the wheel turning. To the clubs for their continuous leadership and commitment to the toastmaster mission. To my assistant Tom O Keeffe for his support throughout the year and to the District team for all their time and effort.

#WeAreToastmasters

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