Book launch proves a resounding success
The high regard that people have for James McGovern could be seen long before the speeches began at the Riverside Park Hotel last Wednesday.
A good 45 minutes after the launch of James' third book was due to begin, they continued to file in through the door, queuing to pick up a copy of 'Stand Up, Speak Out' and have a word with the man himself before the official proceedings got under way.
Over 220 people from right across county Wexford and beyond congregated in the Riverside to support the now retired teacher from St Mary's CBS in Enniscorthy, who has just penned a fascinating memoir of his time as a public speaking and debating tutor.
The large crowd was a healthy mixture of former students and teaching colleagues, current and former members of the ASTI, including former president John White; a sizeable GAA contingent including county board chairman Derek Kent and All-Ireland winners Tom Dempsey and Rory McCarthy as well as a considerable number of well-wishers who had travelled from James' native Longford.
The common thread going through the crowd was that they were all there to pay tribute to James.
Speakers on the night included the aforementioned John White, the book's publisher Michael Freeman of Three Sister Press, former student Padraig Hall, who was part of the All-Ireland winning public speaking team of 1989 and Sky News journalist Enda Brady, himself a former student of James at the Enniscorthy school. MC for the evening was Jimmy Gahan.
Needless to say, for a launch of a book that deals with public speaking, the speeches on the night were eloquently delivered.
Michael Freeman paid tribute to the high quality of the text that he was presented with for publication; John White gave an insight into the respect and admiration that James McGovern commanded in the world of teaching; Padraig Hall spoke about how James, above all other teachers, had such a profound and positive effect on his life.
Enda Brady told the attentive audience that his normal working day is spent in front of the Sky News camera before a television audience of 20 million-plus. He has interviewed such world-renowned figures as Tiger Woods, Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Boris Johnson, Michael Palin and Kylie Minogue. Not a day goes by that Enda doesn't remember the role James McGovern played in giving him the confidence to be the man he is today.
It was clear from Enda's speech just how much of an influence James' teaching and debating coaching had on his life and career. (Apparently, Enda's work commitments were so busy, he slept in the Sky News studios the night before the launch so he could catch an early flight home to be there on the night to officially launch the book).
James McGovern himself told the Riverside audience how he firmly believes that public speaking should be on the secondary school curriculum. When you hear former students of James speak, you can see the benefit of such an argument.
'Stand Up, Speak Out' is in part a history of the art of public speaking and in part a detailed history of the extraordinary success St Mary's CBS has enjoyed in public speaking and debating under James McGovern's guidance.
Interspersed throughout the book are the testimonies of 11 former students of the school who competed in public speaking and debating.
'This book chronicles many journeys,' writes James. 'It describes my own journey as a public speaking and debating tutor. It reflects the school's journey in becoming a respected participant in public speaking and debating competition and a force to be reckoned with. But most importantly it celebrates the journeys and thereby successes of hundreds of St Mary's CBS students down through the years.
'There were the outstanding successes, but the reality is that everyone who took part was on a journey of success.'
James McGovern's own journey of success continues with the launch of this brilliant book.