BEING Miss Cork for a year has changed me so much for the better.
That’s according to Saoirse O’Shaughnessy, who is savouring her last few days in the role before she hands over her crown to this year’s winner.
The 23-year old said she only entered the competition last year to push herself out of her comfort zone, boost her confidence, and perhaps make a few new friends.
“Never for one minute did I actually expect to win!” she said. “It was a complete shock. I literally couldn’t believe what was happening when my name was called out.”
But the young woman from Coachford quickly overcame any imposter syndrome feelings and decided from the get-go that she was going to live up to the expectations of the title.
“I was a little nervous to start out but I got past that quickly as there was nothing but support for me in the role. I feel so blessed as it was such a positive environment to be in,” she said.
Saoirse continued to work full-time in her role as a care- giver in A&E at CUH during her year.
“I loved the balance of both worlds, to be honest,” she admitted.
“Some days I’d be at events, wearing the crown, and then the next day I’d be back at work. The combination of the two kept me humble.
“My work colleagues were also really supportive and so proud of me and sometimes patients would be like ‘Do I know you from the Echo?’ which was lovely!”
Saoirse is planning to train as a paramedic and is driven by a strong desire to help people.
“In my work, I just love it if I can even put a smile on someone’s face. The chances are if I meet them they’re having one of the worst days of their lives, or experiencing some trauma, and if I can do anything to alleviate that, I will.
“I honestly think that laughter is the best medicine so I really try to make a positive impact on the lives of the people I encounter in my work.”
Saoirse also volunteers with Donoughmore first responders, and says that at times during the year it was hectic to do it all, but she loved every minute of it.
HIGH POINTS FROM THE YEAR
Without hesitation, she says the night she was crowned Miss Cork was her high point.
“I can still remember seeing my entire family sitting in the first row and it’s a really great memory.
“Another stand-out memory is when I visited the children’s ward in CUH with rugby player Peter O’Mahony. The kids all made posters for us and it was a really special experience that I won’t forget. It would bring such a smile to your face.”
Saoirse admits that handing over the crown will be an emotional moment – but in a good way.
“My advice to the new Miss Cork is to enjoy the year as it will go so fast.
“I’d also tell her to believe in herself, as we can often be our own worst critics,” she said.
On reflection, she said the Saoirse O’Shaughnessy who will be handing back the crown is a far different young woman than the one who accepted it.
A lot of that, she said, is down to being surrounded by a network of strong, supportive women for the past year.
“I’ve made a great bunch of friends through the competition that I’d otherwise never have known.
“My confidence has grown. A year ago I’d never have imagined I’d be doing runway walks!
“I’ve also been delighted to have a platform to raise issues that I think are important like dementia awareness, mental health, and the importance of first aid.”
And to critics who say the competition is outdated?
“Any experience that has such a positive impact, where you make so many friends and build your confidence could never be outdated. That’s exactly what I’d say to that!”
Saoirse, above all, says she’s grateful for the chance to have been Miss Cork.
“It’s been amazing from start to finish.”
ABOUT THIS YEAR’ S MISS CORK FINAL
The final of the Miss Cork contest will take place in the Radisson Blu Hotel in Little Island on Saturday, April 8. There will be 28 young women taking part, supported on the night by family and friends.
Tickets will also be available to purchase on the night, on the door, for anyone who would like to attend, they cost €30.
The main sponsors of this year’s event is Studio Fitness.
David Kelleher, of Pulse Models, has been organising the Miss Cork event for around 10 years, and is supported by Zoe Hendrick, a former Miss Cork winner.
David said the run up to the event is always lots of fun, it is a great chance to bring young women from all over Cork together and one thing that endures after the event is over, is the lasting friendships made.
This year, David said they hosted an event at Filo Aesthetics in Ballincollig, where all the contestants met up and learned about skincare.
The winner of Miss Cork will go on to represent the county in the Miss Ireland contest in September.
For more you can follow @misscorkworld on Instagram or on Facebook @Miss Cork.