First night back at VOX and it started off with a bang. (Not literally of course). But a jam-packed new venue, humming with enthusiasm,  meant we were off to a flying start.

President Merrilyn Campbell welcomed us all and put some fire in our bellies. Competition time! VOX Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contest is on 24 September and is a great opportunity to flex some speaking muscle. Please contact if interested.

Merrilyn barraged us with good news : no entry charge for paid-up members for a trial period (this is a huge saving);  hand-designed picture cards as weekly prizes for Best Topic, Speech and Evaluation by artist, Jacinta Curley; and best of all, Merrilyn’s mum joined us for the night all the way from Australia!

Talented topicsmaster, Jacinta Curley, set things alight with one simple question : What were our  summer highlights? Learning Cordon Bleu in Paris, the Voscars and getting married figured amongst replies.

So who had tied the knot?!? Two toasties from Uncensored club, Martin and Eleanor, who joined us for our first night back.  The fire of love ignited for the pair in Toastmasters of all places, reminding us of yet another good reason to join.

Prize for best topic went to Stuart McHugh for his recall of Michael Jordan’s inspiring quote: “I’ve failed over and over again and that is why I succeed”.

Donal also gave a thought provoking reply on how success is more about losing than attaining. The personal development industry put pressure on us to achieve more. But perhaps true success is quiet contentment?

Tom Lally’s  icebreaker was about his desire to succeed in overcoming sadness, fear of public speaking and to show determination. He showed an impressive array of skills in his use of body gestures, voice projection, confidence and speech organisation. A very impressive icebreaker!

Siobhan’s CC3 challenged us to debate changing the Irish flag and invited the audience to imagine what they would like their national flag to look like. Everyone was engaged by her original idea and strong presence.

General Evaluator was the thorough Tomas Conefry, grammarian the gregarious Merrilyn Campbell, timer Fionnuala Keane and ah-counter Garret Banaghan

It was a crackling new start to a bright new VOX  year.  My personal highlight, however,  was poetmaster Michelle Kelly’s reading of her own poem, “Expecting”. Witty and clever  it’s also well timed, as  former President Maria McMullan has just had a beautiful baby boy! And Michelle herself is pregnant. So here’s to lots of new beginnings for us all.


We’re expecting!

Expecting what?

Expecting a lot – a baby!

We’re expecting that he or she

Will do the things that we couldn’t

Or wouldn’t

Though not the things he shouldn’t.

We’re expecting to please our parents

It’s been ages since they’ve smiled

And by a child’s laugh

Everyone is beguiled.

Doctors and lawyers are so passé

We’re expecting our child will be blasé

And dance and strum

To the tune that we drum.

We’re expecting – a lot

Fiona O’Meara

Bright New Beginnings, 3rd September 2014