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Miss Ireland finalist Maria Cremin, from Cork
Miss Ireland finalist Maria Cremin, from Cork
SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Feeling empowered in Miss Universe contest

ONE of Maria Cremin’s fondest childhood memories is the Christmas when she received a treasure box filled with princess dresses, high-heeled shoes, jewellery and a silver tiara…

Now she is hoping to relieve that dream again — only this time the crown she is hoping to place on her head is the Miss Universe Ireland one.

The 20-year-old English and Law student from Milford is among 28 women vying for the title, today and tomorrow, in Dublin.

The winner will be taking over the title from Cobh woman Cailin Ni Toibin, who had a wonderful year in the role. In fact, Cailin made the top four in Europe and the final 16 in the competition, hosted in Las Vegas — she was the eighth Irish woman in history to make it to the finals of the world contest, the first since Roz Purcell in 2010.

Today, interviews are being held with finalists, while tomorrow features a fashion show at the Mansion House — a portion of the proceeds from the night will go to Cailin’s chosen charity, Pieta House, which is close to her heart.

Maria Cremin pictured at the Miss Universe Ireland 2018 Pampering Launch Evening in Zero One Salon, Wicklow St, Dublin. Picture: Andres Poveda
Maria Cremin pictured at the Miss Universe Ireland 2018 Pampering Launch Evening in Zero One Salon, Wicklow St, Dublin. Picture: Andres Poveda

The winner will win more than €40,000 worth of prizes and go on to represent Ireland on an international stage.

Maria, a former pupil at Milford NS and Hazel Wood College in Limerick, which her 17-year-old sister Anna now attends, is studying at NUI Galway and hopes to go on and do teaching after her primary degree.

“I thought I would do nursing all my life, I took a year out and did the pre-nursing in 2016. I applied in 2017 but I missed Trinity by three points. So I did English and Law in Galway, I never regretted it!”

She also has never regretted entering the Miss Universe Ireland contest, where she says she has formed great friendships.

So how did her entry come about? Initially a photographer approached her while on a night out and suggested it, but she thought no more about it, until she was in Spain and suffered a terrible dislocation to her knee, damaging the ligaments, which left her in a full cast up to her hip.

While she was laid up in bed, scrolling on social media, a live link application form for Miss Universe Ireland popped up.

“I am a very firm believer that everything happens for a reason,” Maria said.

After applying online, she got a call for an interview with event organiser Brittany Mason — just shortly after she finished her gruelling series of physio, so it was good timing.

Her family, she said, were “sceptical at the start”.

“I am not in the world of modelling … but I I told them about Joanna Cooper winning in 2015 and Cailin last year, and assured them it was a great opportunity. If all else fails it is great that I get to know new people, make a lot of friends.”

And she has already done that, stressing that there is great camaraderie among the 28 contestants, and it’s not in the least bit competitive. “Everyone helps each other out,” added Maria.

She added that her experience of the competition to-date has been about “empowering women”.

Maria is particular enamoured with the #newera vibe that new director of the event, Brittany Mason has ushered in since she relaunched the pageant last year.

Maria has also been following fellow Cork woman, Cailin’s journey, in the papers and on Instagram in the past year.

Maria Cremin.
Maria Cremin.

Looking ahead at the interview today and show tomorrow, which includes a bikini show, evening gown show and a Q+A, she is not daunted about being put on the spot during question time.

“I always like to keep up on current affairs, know what is going on in the world, I read the papers and I listen to podcasts.”

She loves the media and keeping up-to-date with the news, which will help in the interview/on stage questions. In previous years, topics included everything from immigration to the Eighth Amendment.

Maria feels any criticism of the contest’s bikini round isn’t merited.

“Everone has the right to their opinion, but it is very narrow- minded to hone in on this aspect of the contest,” she said.

“When people say a ‘pageant’ a red flag goes up, people think it is all about this, but it is more about what you say, what is on the inside.

“It gives you a voice. It is a chance to stand up and be confident in who you are.

“We are all different shapes and sizes. We are all confident in ourselves.

“Every girl works hard, they are confident in who they are and what they look like.”

As to what she will wear tomorrow night — when we spoke she hadn’t yet found the dress.

“I love fashion — which is probably one of the reasons I do not have a dress yet!”

When asked to describe herself, she says she’s “ambitious” and “competitive”.

But Maria adds that friends would describe her as “kind” and “friendly”.

And add charitable to that list, she has volunteered at Liskeenette Equine Therapy Centre, which is part of St Joseph’s Foundation in Charleville.

“I love working and helping people. I love animals too, horses especially. The centre offers equine therapy for children and adults with intellectual disability. I am very excited to do the competition, and get stuck into more charity work.”

Currently, Maria is working in Footlocker, during her recovery from her knee injury, but she hopes to go back working in Coral Haven, a nursing home, where she was employed part-time during college.

Supporting her at the event tomorrow night will be her mum, Angela, a hairdresser, and her sister Anna — both will keep dad Vincent and her boyfriend Peter Flannery in the loop.

Brittany Mason, National Director of Miss Universe Ireland is pictured with James Patrice, MC and Cailin Aine Ni Toibin, winner of Miss Universe Ireland 2017. Picture: Andres Poveda
Brittany Mason, National Director of Miss Universe Ireland is pictured with James Patrice, MC and Cailin Aine Ni Toibin, winner of Miss Universe Ireland 2017. Picture: Andres Poveda

A successful year for Cobh’s Cailin 

IT’s been a whirlwind of a year for Cobh woman Cailin Ni Toibin, who reigned as Miss Universe Ireland.

The 24-year-old was one of only four European contestants to make it to the top 16, before Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters was announced as the overall winner, in Las Vegas.

She was the eighth Irish woman in history to make it to the finals of the world contest, the first since Roz Purcell in 2010.

Cailín went to Coláiste an Phiarsaigh in Glanmire and works for Brown Thomas and Lockdown Models.

She is passionate about the subject of mental health and has been a strong advocate for the charity Pieta House.

She will hand over her crown at tomorrow night’s Miss Universe Ireland final, which will be hosted by Director Brittany Mason and TV personality James Patrice at the Mansion House in Dublin.

There will be special musical performances from Meg LaGrande and International DJ, DJ GNO who has written an original song for Miss Universe Ireland called Miss Emerald Isle.

Judges include Alannah Beirne, who began her modelling career aged 15 and has gone on to work with top photographers, most recently, she competed in Sports Illustrated’s International model search; Umit Kutluk, who has dressed some of Ireland’s top celebrities; Sybil Mulcahy, editor of EVOKE.ie, former presenter on TV3; Amy Joyce Hastings, a renowned actress; Graham Cantwell, a multi- award winning, IFTA nominated Irish director; and Margaret Clandillon, entrepreneur.

The winner will go on to represent Ireland on the international stage and win more than €40,000 worth of prizes.

Speaking ahead of the event, organisers said: “Maria is the only Corkonian this year but the geometric spread is wonderful this year with young women from all corners of the country competing. What’s more, they’re all incredibly diverse in terms of looks and background so it’s going to be a real celebration of Irish diversity.” For more see http://missuniverseireland.eu/ or find them on Facebook.