Halannah White and Eve Torpey
A fifth year Comeragh College student has won a place in the regional final of Soroptimist International's Girls Public Speaking Contest after emerging as the best orator in the Co. Tipperary schools final last weekend.
Seventeen years-old Halannah White beat off competition from ten other speakers from other Tipperary schools in the county final in the Park Hotel in Clonmel last Saturday to qualify for the next stage of the prestigious competition.
The student from Rathgormack achieved this despite the fact it was her first ever public speaking competition. She and Kerry Tierney from the Ursuline Secondary School in Thurles were the only two speakers in the county final to make it through to the regional final.
Halannah told The Nationalist she was very surprised to do so well in the competition. "I didn't expect it at all. The competition was so high. We were up against bigger schools like the Ursuline in Thurles and Rockwell College. "
Halannah reached the regional finally thanks to the work behind the scenes by her public speaking team mates Eve Torpey, Keeley Corbett-Barry and Niamh Holohan. All four represented Comeragh College in the Tipperary final of the Soroptimist International contest.
The Comeragh College girls worked together in researching their chosen subject the "Empowerment of Women". As the four students are involved in different sports, they particularly focused on the inequality women experience in sport compared to men. Halannah plays gaelic football with Comeragh Rangers Gaelic Football team and also plays basketball at school.
Public speaking expert Nancy Farrell was brought into the school to help the team prepare for the competition. Over a period of three weeks, Nancy worked to develop their confidence and public speaking skills. As only two members of the team could speak at the Tipperary final, they decided amongst themselves that Halannah and Eve would do the oratory. They split into pairs and researched the topic and worked with Nancy twice a week for two hours. Before the county final the Comeragh College team did a trial run with a class of first years.
Comeragh College's Vice Principal Kathleen O'Donovan-Ryan, who was the driving force in entering a team from the school in the contest, was at the Park Hotel in Clonmel last Saturday to support the girls.
Halannah said the amount of preparation she and her team mates put into preparing their chosen topic and speeches meant she didn't feel too nervous in getting up to speak.
"I actually quite enjoyed the experience. It was fun when I got into it," she said.
The regional final she has qualified for will take place in Killarney on February 3. She plans to resume her public speaking preparations for the competition in a few weeks time. The national final will be in Ballina, Co. Mayo in March.
Comeragh College Principal Kevin Langton congratulated the team on their success and paid tribute to them for the hard work they put into preparing for the contest.
He said the school decided to get their students involved in public speaking to improve their confidence and wished Halannah well in the next stage of the contest.