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INTERVIEW Joe Ring, brother of Michael

Joe Ring, the new president of Westport Toastmasters.
Joe Ring, the new president of Westport Toastmasters.

Toasting his town

Áine Ryan

ASKING any woman what part of her body she would prioritise for cosmetic surgery could well prove to be a dangerous question. When it is the first time you have met the same gal and she happens to be an articulate octogenarian, you could conclude that the questioner had a death wish.
Meet Joe Ring: Covie, younger brother of Junior Minister Michael Ring, sibling to a bakers dozen of brothers and sisters, chef, businessman, soccer fan, father of triplets and new president of Westport Toastmasters. 
When Joe Ring returned to Westport from west Cork for a weekend in 1980, he had no intention of staying put. He had spent many years ‘cheffing’ all over the country and planned to return to west Cork after a few fun days on home turf.
Thirty-one years later and Ring still hasn’t moved back south.
“To me Westport is the greatest town in the country as a tourism destination. Of course, its best asset is its people. They haven’t changed since I was a young lad growing up in the 1960s. There is always a great buzz and a bit of magic in the air. Towns like Killarney rely on American tourists but Irish people keep coming back to Westport; that is the reason it will always boom.”
Joe credits the spirit of volunteerism of the Tidy Towns Committee as the inspiration for the success of so many other initiatives in Westport. He also credits former Town Manager, Padraig Hughes and contemporary officials such as Simon Wall for ensuring the town did not bow to the pressures of tacky, or too many, developments.
“Hindsight is a great thing, and we are all indebted now to such men for their foresight in keeping the integrity of this beautiful town intact.”
So where better a place to meet the love of your life and rear a family.
Joe Ring finally found his match in the woman who is now his wife, and business partner, Eithne Cusack. They married  in 1991.
“Just like Our Lord, I was 33 years old and have the holes in my hands to prove it.” He is laughing. 
Six years later life dramatically changed for the fun-loving couple when Eithne became pregnant. Of course, dedicated partner Joe was beside his wife for that first scan appointment in University Hospital, Galway.
Although he was a little preoccupied. Naturally. Manchester United was playing his team, Leeds United, that night and he was totally engrossed in a newspaper article about the game, while the nurse studied the ultrasound.
“There is one hearbeat … There are two heartbeats … Oh, my Lord! There are three beats …”
Tearing the paper from in front of his face, the shocked nurse repeated: “Did you hear me, Mr Ring?”
“Yeah. Yeah, Man U are playing Leeds tonight and if they are not careful … What did you say?”
Thankfully, Joe was in the right place for a sudden surge of blood pressure.
Almost 14 years later and those three heartbeats are now known as Cathy, Emily and David and these days they attend secondary schools in Westport.
Sipping on a pint of Lucozade in the lobby of the Wyatt Hotel, Joe Ring explains to The Mayo News: “Eithne nearly carried them to full term so they didn’t need incubators but they were kept in hospital in Galway for observation for ten days. I will never forget the day we went to collect them; it was like bringing home three bags of messages. Nobody told us that they were going to squeal so loudly.”
Fast-forward a couple of months and one little cuddly triplet would get sick, then the second and finally the third. By the time the third got sick, the first had recovered but was re-infected by the third. Add into this mathematical conundrum, Mammy coming down with whatever virus or infection it happened to be. 
And while the teenage triplets no longer squeal, they are able to argue their point with Joe. So it is no surprise that a few years ago he joined the Westport branch of Toastmasters in an attempt to hone his verbal skills.
“I saw these ads in The Mayo News about Toastmasters meetings and I hadn’t a clue what they were about. I thought it sounded very exclusive but curiosity brought me along to a meeting …  I was so impressed and daunted. But I remember thinking that never as long as I live could I stand up and deliver a talk about a prepared topic, never mind talk off-the-cuff.”
Ah! But sure within weeks the cheeky chap was plying his oratory skills on the subject of cosmetic surgery. Boy was he blushing when a lady of a certain age verbally castrated him.

What is Toasmasters?
IF you are terrified to get up and make a speech or enjoy speaking in public but have few opportunities, then Toastmasters is your ideal forum. Westport Toastmasters is a branch of Toastmasters International, the organisation dedicated to the promotion of public speaking.
The first meeting of this season’s Westport Toastmasters will be held on Monday, September 12, at 8pm in the Wyatt Hotel. For more information, visit www.westport-toastmasters.com.

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