Dwyer crowned king of Soapbox

Tue, Nov 20, 2012, 00:00

The rapturous shrieking of schoolgirls pierced the lavish ballroom of Farmleigh House when the 2012 Soapbox Champion was announced.

With the shrill cacophony you’d swear someone had told the girls from Gorey Community School that One Direction was about to play an impromptu set. Instead they were applauding fellow pupil Michael Dwyer, who had worked his way through regional public-speaking contests to reach today’s grand final.

He found himself up against tough competition, but did enough to see off the seven other finalists. His three-minute address was a surgical refutation of the motion 'youth is wasted on the young’, which concluded with the salutary message: “Youth is not wasted on the young but life is wasted when we live in peevish regret of the past and are blind to the joys of the now.”

“I put an awful lot of work into it,” he said afterwards. “I went into details that youth don’t have any powers... their opinions don’t matter, so that’s what youth is about: that we can experience the likes of hurling, football, reading, learning music, preparing for the future.”

There’s a hint of Seamus Heaney about the 16-year-old, whose interests span sport and scholarship; he plays hurling for Naomh Eanna but freely admits “I’d be better at the pen now than the hurl”.

His father, Patrick, beamed as his son marched onto the stage to collect the €1,000 prize money which he later said will probably be spent “on something cheap that goes on four wheels”.

“I’m thrilled with him,” Patrick said. “He’s a great kid. He prepares at night time, he does a lot of work with South-East Radio and he’s into that public speaking. He’s tireless, he works tirelessly at it.”