THE countdown to the 75th Miss Ireland is underway - it takes place on August 20 at the Royal Theatre Castlebar. This year Cork is very well represented with six finalists. We spoke to Miss Cork City and the winner of The People’s Choice, ahead of the event.
First Runner-Up and Miss Cork City
Eve Mullins is a well-known name to those who follow Cork ladies’ football.
The 21-year-old has been playing inter-county since she was just 14, and has an All-Ireland medal, as well as four more for Munster.
She also plays GAA with her club Rockbán in Whitechurch where she lives. GAA is in her DNA. Her dad Micky played U21 hurling and football for Cork, and was on the senior All-Ireland winning hurling panel of 1990. Her mum played basketball and camogie with Na Piarsaigh, and her brother won an All-Ireland U20s hurling medal last year.
Eve is fully committed to sport, but at the same time she doesn’t want to be known just for being ‘the girl who plays GAA’. And that’s partly why she went forward for the Miss Cork competition.
“I wanted to branch out, try new things. And after two years of lockdowns I thought it might be a way of boosting my confidence and putting myself out there,” she said.
“Also, my mum Christine entered Miss Cork years ago, we’re really close and she encouraged me to give it a go. She has always encouraged my brother and I to try new things, see where it takes us, and if it’s not for us after all, then no harm done.”
Her granny Esther is another important figure in her life: “I have the most beautiful relationship with my granny . We are the best of friends. She has been there for everything for myself and my brother Micheál and these moments are memories we will cherish forever.
“She is the person I look up to. I always say if I could be like her and live a happy life like she did, I wouldn’t have done too bad. Her great love and support for us has given us the confidence to achieve different things and we are so grateful to have a granny like her.”
An unexpected bonus of taking part in Miss Cork for Eve was discovering a platform to promote something she’s passionate about: gender equality across all disciplines in sport.
It’s something she was asked about in one of her competition interviews, and it’s something she’s only too familiar with.
She’s dating Cork senior footballer Blake Murphy and she sees the differences in how the teams are treated, even in terms of what venues they play.
“It is getting better though. It has taken a while but as the years go on, gradual changes are occurring, and hopefully in the future this will keep improving,” she said.
Eve has just finished her second year studying Early Years & Childhood Studies in UCC and is working in a creche for the summer.
Her plan is to do her HDip and then a PhD in autism studies.
“I want to work as a special needs teacher in a national school,” said Eve, who is raising funds for the LauraLynn children’s hospice with a skydive in the coming weeks.
She honestly admits that before entering Miss Cork, her perception of beauty pageants was a world apart far from she experienced.
“I remember when I told people I was entering, a lot of them were like ‘you’re doing what’?”
But being covered in bruises from being on the pitch, and standing on stage in a beautiful dress, were, she discovered, entirely compatible.
“I want to be a role model for girls in sport, and now I can be in this role as well.”
Second Runner Up - The People’s Choice
MEG O’Mahony honestly admits to being absolutely terrified of public speaking.
It’s something that held her back at different times in her life, such as giving college presentations or going for job interviews.
“I remember once I was asked to hold a training seminar for new hires where I would have to present in front of them all and I couldn’t do it because of that fear,” she said.
But the 21-year-old was so determined to face her fear and conquer, it that she put her name forward for Miss Cork, even though it was completely outside her comfort zone.
“It was so scary!” she recalls. “But I took comfort from the fact that only the top 14 girls on the night were asked questions on stage, and I never for a minute imagined I’d be one of them. But I was so proud of myself for doing it!”
Meg lives in Greenmount with her parents, her brother and his girlfriend.
She went to college when she was just 18 to study Business Information Systems, but only lasted until the first semester.
“I think I was just too young,” she said. “I only went to college because I thought that’s what you had to do after Leaving Cert.”
She took a year out to work full time in Bord Gais and then went to college to study Art Craft and Design.
“They are majorly different fields of study but I never knew what I wanted to do so I wanted to try everything! I knew I was so young and there was plenty of time to figure myself out.
“Now, in September, I’m going back to start Business Information Systems in MTU again. Art is still a major passion of mine but I do want to pursue my interest in IT as a career instead. I feel like I’m definitely in the mindset for college now and I’ll get value out of it.”
As well as runner-up, Meg won the People’s Choice on the night: “I didn’t expect to even place so it was such a shock for me. Hearing my name being called is definitely a moment I will never forget. It’s helping me learn to stop under-estimating myself all the time!”
The young woman is now looking forward to the Miss Ireland competition and raising money for a charity close to her heart.
“That’s Brain Tumour Ireland. My dad Martin bravely battled a brain tumour some years back and overcame it. I really admire his strength, because experts said he wouldn’t survive it and he did. So it’s a great way to honour his bravery.”
She doesn’t feel that being part of a beauty pageant is at all old fashioned or disempowering, as some might see it.
“I’m actually very passionate and outspoken about topics like this and I think the main goal of feminism is women’s right to choose, to do what makes them happy.
“If it isn’t harming anyone, then we should be free to have our interests and hobbies without judgment. Miss Cork was something I chose to do, and not for one moment did I ever feel objectified in any way. It’s not just a ‘beauty competition’. I quickly learned that it’s not about being a pretty face, you need confidence, public speaking skills, an interest in philanthropy and a kind personality. That’s what I felt I was being judged on.”
She said it was definitely an empowering moment for her to go outside her comfort zone and push the boundaries of her confidence.
“Every woman is different, maybe they wouldn’t feel empowered, and that is absolutely OK! The girls I met in there were so empowering of each other and we got to express ourselves, make friends, and represent ourselves through our sponsors and our charities.
“So I do think even that vie point is a bit old fashioned in itself, we have moved past that point as a society, and I most certainly wouldn’t have taken part if it was demeaning to women in any way.”
Also flying the flag for Cork will be:
Miss Cork: Saoirse O’Shaughnessy
Saoirse, aged 22, is living in Coachford and is currently working as a full-time care assistant in A&E in the CUH.
Miss Cork East: Chloe McCarthy
Chloe McCarthy is 20 years old and is living in Passage West. She is currently studying Early Years and Childhood Studies and wants to pursue a career in occupational therapy.
Miss Cork North: Sofia Labus
Sofia Labus is 19 years of age and is living in Ballyvolane. She just finished her Leaving Cert and wants to study Criminology in UCC. She enjoys travelling and doing nails.