It’s Good To Talk!

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a dream”.

Say those words over in your head. Aren’t they powerful? Imagine if you could make everyone stop and listen- listen to your opinions, your ideas, if you could really express yourself! This is exactly what public speaking does. Its benefits are vast and varied. It has given me friendship, confidence and the opportunity to express my opinions (the chance to miss lots of class time too but we won’t elaborate on that!). Besides binge watching TV shows I can honestly say that public speaking is one of the things in which I have invested the most time and hard work and luckily for my teammates and I, our hard work paid off.


The Galway Final of the University Women’s Graduates Association    U 15’s Public Speaking Competition was to take place at NUIG. Ashling Walsh and I had taken part last year but left empty handed. This year, despite being splat in the middle of our dreaded Junior Cert mocks, we were determined it would be different! Following intense preparation Meghan Folan, Ashling and I nervously brushed our hair and put on our blazers.  


Arriving in the NUIG Bailey Allen Hall, we set off to scribble down the three minute speeches in the allocated fifteen minutes that I swear seemed like fifteen seconds. And we won!  (Including the best speaker award!) Maybe now my mother will cease chiding me for my bad diction! And so in the euphoria of victory, my teammates and I looked at each other and realised we would have to do it all over again at the All Ireland Final. Hopefully our mentor, Mr. Kelly didn’t expect any free time in the near future! 

 Public Speaking

The next month consisted of lots of hard work, stressful last minute changes and q cards. Meghan was unavailable on the day of the National Final but was replaced by Lucille Destrade, who bravely took the challengehead on. We  wrote about a thousand speeches a week for the next month presenting them to walls, white boards, teachers, experienced siblings (my sister having won an All Ireland Public Speaking competition this year herself), First years, Leaving Certs, the piano in the parlour and everyone in-between.

On Saturday 12th of March, at an hour I am certain the birds were not yet awake, Lucille, Ashling, Mr.Kelly and I took the bus up to University College Dublin to give it a shot. We spent the last hour before the competition repeating ‘Ladies and Gentleman! No! Men!’ to innocent ducks in the UCD pond. The competition was extremely enjoyable, hearing accents from across the country and being introduced to new ideas and opinions from fellow teenagers with the same passions as ourselves. After magically not dying of nerves, Ashling, Lucille and I took to the podium and delivered our speeches to our ‘fellow teammates, time keeper, adjudicators, parents and teachers’.


We came second! After having to pose for what seemed like a million photos we travelled home exhausted but content. Exhaustion still didn’t stop us from talking non-stop for three hours the whole way home!Spending so much time together with peers who were as dedicated to ‘shoving opinions down people’s throats’ has made strong friendships and endless inside jokes (the flourishment of pressure packed with additives).  The following Monday, we brought our prize into school- the runners-up prize silver plate that I had been severely tempted to eat Sunday dinner off. Our passion for speaking is only just beginning!


Juliette O’ Donnell 3rd Year

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