CORK has excellent odds of bringing home this year’s Miss Ireland title in this weekend’s competition. The Rebel County boasts six girls in the pageant, which brands itself as being about ‘beauty with a purpose’ with entrants required to support a charity.
All girls were interviewed by a panel including former Miss World Rosanna Davison, in the past week, and in this weekend’s glamorous final, they’ll take to the stage to model key looks, before a select few are picked for an on stage interview where they could be asked anything from their views on Donald Trump to what they thought of the Pope’s visit.
Our entries include the current Miss Cork, Tara Nolan, who automatically qualified for the final. Others made it having been either placed or being a runner-up in Miss Cork in recent years; or by entering a ‘Wild Card’ round in Dublin.
Regardless of how they got to the final, they’re all vying for the same thing: to represent Ireland at the Miss World event in China this December.
Outside of Tara, an Interiors Architecture student, our other hopefuls include a national school teacher, a recruiter, a part time chef and a masters graduate.
“BEFORE entering Miss Cork, this was something I never even imagined I wanted; but now I’m so close I really want it.”
Tara Nolan, who is about to start her second year of Interior Architecture at CIT, said she plans on “working the hardest I can” at this weekend’s Miss Ireland event.
“The competition is very stiff but I’d love to go to Miss World; if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be, and if it’s not, it’s not. But I’m going to give it my all and hopefully the outcome will be the one I want,” she said.
From Cloughduv, the young woman has said things have been ‘manic’ since winning the Miss Cork title last February — but in a good way.
“I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I’ve especially enjoyed the charity work aspect of the title,” she added.
All Miss Ireland entrants must support a charity and Tara is working with Bumbleance, the children’s ambulance. While on J1 in California this summer she raised €1,000 for them, by skydiving.
“I never thought I’d do it — I booked it 10 days earlier and my stomach was constantly in knots but then on the day all I felt was pure excitement. I’m definitely going to do one again.”
Tara, who is in a relationship, said she’s very excited about going into second year at CIT and feels “very lucky” she picked the right course for her.
A keen country music fan, Tara also intends throwing her hat into the ring in the talent section of the competition.
“As well as Miss Ireland there’s a Miss Sports, Miss Talent, and a Miss Congeniality. You have to send a video of yourself performing and then a few are picked on the night to perform on stage,” she said.
Still undecided on her exact performance, Tara said she planned on sticking with an Irish artist such as Gavin James or Imelda May.
Aoife O’Sullivan said she was a “quiet, naïve country girl” when she entered Miss Cork three years ago. At the age of 17, having played camogie for Cork at underage level, she tore her cruciate in her knee.
“I did it twice actually and was told I couldn’t play sport any more, which was devastating, so I turned to modelling to fill the void, and that became my hobby,” she said.
She entered Miss Cork three years ago and came third despite describing herself as a “quite, naïve country girl who was thrown into the midst of it all”.
That qualified her for the Miss Ireland competition and now she says she’s “older and wiser” and ready for next weekend’s challenge.
Now aged 23, Aoife, from Ballinadee, near Kinsale, said her Miss Cork win gave her a “huge platform for modelling” and having initially signed with Pulse in Cork city, she moved to Assets and is now with Andrea Roche’s agency in Dublin.
She graduated as a national school teacher from Mary Immaculate in Limerick two years ago and teaches senior infants in St Maries of the Isle in Cork.
“A lot of my modelling work would be with the Today Show in RTÉ which is just around the corner from where I work so I can juggle both,” she says.
She’s very focused on the task at hand next weekend, although with the added focus brings added nerves, she admits.
Her chosen charity to support is Jigsaw in Cork which supports mental health for young people.
Besides modelling, her hobbies are health and fitness. She’s been dating Cork hurler Colm Spillane for the past year and he’ll be supporting her in the audience this weekend.
Having a shot at Miss Ireland has always been on 24-year-old Maria Murphy’s bucket list.
“I just decided that it was now or never; now was my time. I don’t know where I’ll even be next year so decided to live in the now and stop putting it off!”
From near Millstreet, but living in Rathfarnam, she graduated with a Masters in Marketing in UCC.
As part of that she interned in an agency in the capital for six months, and was then kept on for a further six.
Fancying a career change, she’s worked in recruitment for the last six months where it’s all about “building relationships.”
“I work mainly in the banking and financial services sector and I love it. There’s a real feelgood factor helping someone who is unemployed find a job; or helping someone who is unhappy to change direction.”
Since securing her place in the final in mid August, she admits it’s been a bit of a whirlwind, “but in the best way possible”.
She saw the competition on Facebook and entered the Wild Card route.
Before she ever knew she was going to make it to the final, she had planned on running a half marathon in the Phoenix Park on September 22 for the Irish Cancer Society and she’s planning on using her platform to further support the cause.
“My dad Timothy was diagnosed with a form of cancer three years ago. It’s treatable but not curable. He’s a trooper and is my inspiration in all of this,” she said.
Dad and mum Josephine, and other family members have their banners all set for this weekend.
Maria, who is single, is fully aware that there are plenty of people who knock the Miss Ireland contest, but it doesn’t bother her.
“It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea; everyone is allowed their opinion and I respect that.”
It’s been a busy summer for 19-year-old Aoife O’Shaughnessy. Not alone did she sit her Leaving Certificate and move house, somewhere in between she also qualified for a place in the Miss Ireland final.
As a runner up in Miss Cork, she came through the Wild Card selection in Dublin.
Hugely boosted by the experience in Miss Cork, she’s aware that the final will be a ‘bigger deal’ but is set for the challenge.
“It will be nerve-wrecking, but you just have to be prepared for what’s thrown at you,” she said.
She’s actually due to start her college course the day after the final, but fortunately, regardless of the outcome, the College of Commerce have given her a day’s grace.
“I’m really looking forward to starting the course. I’ve always been interested in children and the dream was to be a national school teacher. Then my brother had a baby and I became so close to my nephew Ollie that I decided to change career path. He was my reassurance that I was doing the right thing,” she said. Aoife is a supporter also of the Jack and Jill Foundation.
Aoife and her family recently moved from Donoughmore where they had lived for 10 years to Fairhill, Farranree.
“We moved back to be closer to family and work. It’s convenient for me with college, but I do miss life in the country,” she said.
She’s also enjoying modelling and was signed to Pulse Agency, while also working with Tiger Training Academy.
The ultimate plan for Aoife is to pursue her career, and continue her childcare studies to UCC.