Recent UCC medicine graduate Dr Ivanna McMahon has had a “whirlwind” summer this year, as she took home the titles of both Miss Munster and Miss Ireland.
Speaking to, Ivanna said that when her name was read out as Miss Ireland 2022 at the final ceremony on Saturday night, “it took me a second to even process it was me”.
Originally from Clare, Ivanna spent five years studying medicine in UCC, a time she remembers fondly.
“I absolutely loved UCC, the campus is so beautiful, I made brilliant friends there and have such fond memories,” she said.
Having graduated as a doctor in 2020, straight into a global pandemic, Ivanna said it was daunting as she started work in CUH, later moving to work in Kerry, but that she received great support from her colleagues.
However, the pandemic made her realise that it was now or never to pursue something she had always dreamt about.
“I applied for Miss Clare at the start of the year… I didn't want to wake up in 10 years and say I wish and pushed myself and did that when I was younger. I think Covid especially made everyone realize you should live in the moment and do everything you always wanted to do,” she said.
Having never entered a pageant before, Ivanna said she was “over the moon” when she was crowned Miss Munster earlier this summer. To then be crowned Miss Ireland 2022 only weeks later, she said she was “absolutely shocked”.
Ivanna said that the idea that women’s pageants are dated, is in itself a dated idea that she doesn’t agree with.
“You still have fashion shows and photo shoots and glam, but even more so you have awareness and fundraising for charities, and a group of young women bringing communities together… I definitely think there's a lot more to it than the classic old image of a beauty pageant,” she said, adding that Miss Ireland contestants for this year raised over €50,000 for charity.
As Ivanna heads for Miss World later this year, she says she will be continuing her “Beauty with a Purpose” focus on charity work, as well as practicing her musical talents as a harpist, to try and impress the judges.
“Everyone goes with the hope to win, and if I did win I would be so incredibly happy. I’ll try my best to represent Ireland as well as I can, and if I managed to win Miss World, it would definitely be a dream,” she added.