Secrets of success
How one of Co Cork’s top Macra na Feirme clubs wins award after award
Freemount Macra has had phenomenal success in public speaking and debating competitions at national level in recent years. This is due to their mentoring system, which has existed through the generations.
Their success in these competitions continued unabated recently when their public speaking team of Siobhan Ring and twin sisters Breda and Noreen Stritch won the All-ireland final in Castlebar, with the best speaker award going to Noreen. Noreen and Breda Stritch comes from a family steeped in Macra. Their younger brother Thomas, also a member of Freemount, was part of the senior debating team that won the All-ireland in 2014.
In addition to their success in 2014, Freemount won the 2012 and 2016 senior debating competitions.
Noreen Stritch told the Irish Examiner that club members are willing to pass on their knowledge when members are preparing for competitions. They are mentored by past or present members, who have an interest in a specific area, and are always willing to lend a helping hand to new teams. “When you participate in debating, people are interested in what you have to say and your ideas, they are very encouraging. “Obviously they are not going to write the speech for you, but they will read over the speech when you have it written, and will give you feedback on it,” she said. While practicing for public speaking, club members are also encouraged to find their voice and to use it and not be afraid to offer their opinion. “It’s never like anything you say would be considered silly, everyone is very respectful of what you have to say, always there to listen, always there to encourage.” she said. Although their path to the final was uncontested in both the Avondhu regional round and the semi-final, Siobhan, Breda and Noreen were looking forward to participating in the final.
“I know we were very lucky to get that road to the final, so the first competitive night we actually had was the night of the final.” “Obviously, it’s a great honor to be in the final. I think we just decided that we were going to give it our best shot”. “There is always a bit of nerves, but no, we were just delighted to be there, to have the opportunity to present. “I think we all enjoyed listening to the other speeches, and definitely, none of us could call it, none of us thought we had definitely won, we felt that the standard was very high” she said.
Macra National President James Healy with the Freemount club’s public speaking team of twin sisters Breda and Noreen Stritch, and Siobhan Ring, who won the All-ireland final in Castlebar.