Here’s to a Terp Toastmaster
Alum’s Toast Wins $50K in Guinness Contest
By Liam Farrell
Illustration via Vecteezy.com
Growing up next door to his Galway grandmother in Hyattsville, Md., Tom Ponton ’82 was practically raised to write an award-winning toast for the legendary Irish brewer Guinness.
Family members and other local Irish immigrants who gathered at “Gommy’s” house on Sundays always eventually traded their tea for whiskey and beer, then shared stories and songs that immersed Ponton in a culture that serves plenty of lyricism and heartfelt emotion—along with healthy side dishes of winking exaggeration and ribbing.
So it felt like a piece of ancestral fate when Ponton, who is director of advancement at DeMatha Catholic High School in his hometown and dabbles in poetry and songwriting, saw a tweet about Guinness’ “Great Reunion Toast Contest.” Since winning $50,000—split between a donation to a seminary to help Ukrainian refugees, bills and planned trip to Ireland this summer—Ponton is often asked for advice.
“In the Irish tradition, I think a toast has to obviously have some sort of sentiment, but it’s helpful to have some sort of twist if at all possible. Try to give it a little bit of bite or humor,” he says. “Some people get confused as to what toasts are. At weddings now, what was meant to be a toast winds up being a soliloquy.”
Here’s Ponton’s Guinness-approved toast for your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, or to inspire you the next time you raise a glass to good company.
When you’re old and gray and doze by the fire
And you have one last glass before you retire
It’s not about wealth but the seeds you have sown
To the people you’ve loved and the friends you have known
So let’s raise a glass to our family and friends
And to those who oppose us let’s make amends
For there’s no use in cryin’, it’s not a long stay
I’m not one for me lyin’, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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