While the Claddagh Toastmasters club is about public speaking of all types, especially prepared speeches and imprompty speaking, our members do sometimes give a specialised type of speech called a 'toast' at public events. A toast is a ritual in which a drink is taken as an expression of honor or goodwill.
Here is one example of a such a toast that was given by Keza Ryan, President of the Claddagh Toastmasters club, on 11 November 2011 to celebrate the inauguration of Irelands new president Michael D. Higgins.
A dhuine uasail..
In 1948, when the then Taoiseach of Ireland, John A. Costello was on an official visit to Canada, the Governor General of Canada the Earl Alexander of Tunis steadfastly refused the directions of Irish officials to toast the then President of Ireland, Seán T. O'Kelly. This was because at that time, King George VI of Britain fulfilled the external affairs role that normally belongs to heads of state, while the President of Ireland fulfilled only an internal constitutional role.
Costello was very annoyed and told a reporter the following day that he would prompt the Irish parliament to declare Ireland a republic. This he did and Ireland became a republic later that year. So it is because of toast that the President of Ireland became the Head of State. But I hope not to prompt any international incident as I toast our new President.
The Irish Presidency involves many duties and responsibilities and one of the most important is representing the Irish state in foreign affairs. And that role requires a lot of speaking in public. That is what we do in the Claddagh Toastmasters club here in Brussels – learn and practice the art of speaking in public. In fact the club is full of future Presidents of Ireland, and maybe a few future heads of other countries too!
Sean O'Casey , the Irish dramatist (and like Micheal D, a lifelong socialist) once said "All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed." Well fortunately our new president IS very well rehearsed. For a toastmaster such as myself, it is very heartening to see that the next president is an accomplished speaker having spent his life as a campaigner, politician and poet. So I think we are in good hands.
On behalf of myself, my family and the Claddagh Toastmasters club, I would like to congratulate our 9th President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina Coyne. We wish them the very best of luck in their new roles. I have no doubt that they will make us proud.
So lets raise a glass to our new president
Ladies and gentlemen
“The President of Ireland”