Miss Cork: I slept with the crown on... It all still feels like a dream!

A health care assistant from Coachford is the new Miss Cork. EMMA CONNOLLY catches up with her to find out about her plans for the exciting year ahead
Miss Cork: I slept with the crown on... It all still feels like a dream!

Newly crowned Miss Cork for 2022, Saoirse O'Shaughnessy, aged 22 from Coachford. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

WORKING in a nursing home at the height of the pandemic, and now in the emergency department of CUH, has taught newly-crowned Miss Cork, Saoirse O’Shaughnessy, that life is precious.

The 22-year-old is a healthcare assistant and it was while working recently with someone her own age, who had suffered life-changing injuries in an accident, that she decided not to waste a single moment of her own life.

Newly crowned Miss Cork for 2022, Saoirse O'Shaughnessy, at The Metropole Hotel. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO
Newly crowned Miss Cork for 2022, Saoirse O'Shaughnessy, at The Metropole Hotel. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

It was also what cemented her decision to enter the Miss Cork competition, with the encouragement of her parents Patricia and John.

The Echo caught up with the young woman from Coachford the morning after her win, and she was still on cloud nine.

“I slept with the crown on,” Saoirse joked.

“It all still feels like a dream!”

The eldest of four siblings, Saoirse did a pre-nursing course in the College of Commerce after school, followed by a course in emergency services in Coláiste Stiofáin Naofa.

Her ultimate ambition is to work as a paramedic – and she has already taken concrete steps to make that happen, having recently passed her theory test to get her truck licence.

During the pandemic, Saoirse worked in Macroom Nursing Home, which understandably, she said, was “very tough, and quite traumatic”.

“It has made me a person with a lot of empathy, and someone who really understands the circle of life,” she said.

And through her work in CUH, she said she’s reminded daily that she has so many options in life and she has to seize them, and use them all to her best ability.

“Entering Miss Cork scared the life out of me, but one of my favourite sayings is to ‘get comfortable with being uncomfortable’.”

Miss Cork for 2022, Saoirse O'Shaughnessy with her parents Trish & John, at the Miss Cork 2022 Grand Final at The Metropole Hotel. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO
Miss Cork for 2022, Saoirse O'Shaughnessy with her parents Trish & John, at the Miss Cork 2022 Grand Final at The Metropole Hotel. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

She also recently completed a personal training course – even though walking into the gym a year ago was something else totally out of her comfort zone.

“I did that course as I want to show people how to be kind to their bodies,” she said.

Her family, parents, two sisters and brother, were in the front row in the audience in the Metropole Hotel when she was announced as this year’s Miss Cork.

‘My dad literally jumped in the air he was so proud! It was a really humbling moment.”

Her mum runs a local equestrian centre, which she has taken over since lockdown, and her dad is a former race horse trainer, and she describes them both as extremely enterprising.

Newly crowned Miss Cork for 2022, Saoirse O'Shaughnessy, 22 from Coachford, with First Runner up and newly crowned Miss Cork City, Eve Mullins (Right), 20, from Whitechurch, and second Runner up, Meg O'Mahony (Left), 21, from Barrack St, Cork. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO
Newly crowned Miss Cork for 2022, Saoirse O'Shaughnessy, 22 from Coachford, with First Runner up and newly crowned Miss Cork City, Eve Mullins (Right), 20, from Whitechurch, and second Runner up, Meg O'Mahony (Left), 21, from Barrack St, Cork. Picture: Michael O'Sullivan /OSM PHOTO

“My dad is one of the hardest working people I know – he’d do anything to provide for his family.

“They really encouraged me to enter Miss Cork and to enjoy the experience,” she said.

Describing herself as driven, and very independent, perhaps even a bit stubborn, Saoirse says she’s not easily distracted, and she’s got a clear plan on what she wants to get out of her year as Miss Cork. That includes encouraging people to come out of their shells, and to disconnect from the negativity of social media.

“I want people to realise the block button is there for a reason, and to use it!” said Saoirse.

She has taken breaks from social media in the past, and encourages it, but she also sees its positives.

“It’s all about how you use it.”

She’d also like to highlight the importance of first aid courses, something she’d like to be mandatory on the school curriculum, along with a particular focus on helping students to be resilient when they leave school.

Saoirse would also like to highlight the work of the Irish Community Air Ambulance.

“Again, in my work I can see the difference the service makes in getting people to hospital so quickly, and the fact that it doesn’t get government funding is, in my opinion, really shocking.”

Kindness is a big part of who she is, and it’s going to be her big theme of the year.

“I can see every day through my work the difference that a cup of tea and a simple smile can make to someone, and that’s a message I want to spread this year – be kind!”

Outgoing Miss Cork Zoe Hendrick.
Outgoing Miss Cork Zoe Hendrick.

HANDING OVER THE CROWN

Outgoing Miss Cork Zoe Hendrick admits she was ‘devastated’ at having to hand over the crown.

The pandemic meant she was the longest ever serving Miss Cork, and while Covid-19 also meant her reign was a little different to others, she loved every moment of it.

She won the title back in October, 2020, when she was 24 and working as a digital marketing analyst.

She’ll celebrate her 26th birthday later this year and is just five weeks into her new role as wedding coordinator at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Little Island.

The young woman from Blackrock said there was always a voice telling her that she should try something else, and she’s relishing the new position.

Outgoing Miss Cork Zoe Hendrick .
Outgoing Miss Cork Zoe Hendrick .

“It’s really busy and we’ve at least one wedding every weekend. I love it,” she said.

High points of her time as Miss Cork include finishing in third place at the Miss Ireland competition last September. She also won ‘Miss Social Media’ at the event.

Zoe also loved mentoring this year’s group of Miss Cork hopefuls and sharing what she’d learned with them.

“For me, that was about telling them to be themselves. I also told them to be prepared for possible negative comments online and to just block and delete them.

“In this competition, you quickly learn who is your true friend and who isn’t. You might see someone taking a step back, or someone else trying to be your friend, so it’s something to be aware of. But I told the girls that if you do well, you’re always going to get haters, and to ignore them, as it all comes down to jealousy.”

Taking part in the competition, she said, was such a confidence booster: “I honestly couldn’t recommend it highly enough and wish Saoirse all the best.”

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