A Knocknacarra woman could be celebrating her 21st birthday in style later this month if she walks away with the much-coveted Miss Ireland title.
Miss Galway Leah Tiernan, a fashion graduate, competes in the national beauty contest in Dublin on Saturday July 19. Her birthday takes place the following week on the 27th.
Leah, who was born in Mill Street, but whose family now lives in Knocknacarra, says it is a tremendous honour for her to represent her home county in the competition.
She will compete against 45 other women for the prestigious title - 20 took part in the local heat which was held in Galway in April.
Leah, who works at Pia fashion and accessory store in Middle Street and who studied fashion for two years at Galway Technical Institute, says she was encouraged by work colleagues to enter the competition.
“It was so last minute,” she says. “The girls in Pia were saying to me to go for it. Five days beforehand I signed myself up. I finished work at 4pm and the event started at 5pm. There was no time to be nervous. I really didn’t think I’d win, it never crossed my mind. I went along for the craic and to meet a few people.”
Contestants modelled formal, casual and swimwear and were interviewed by the judging panel on the night.
Leah, the second eldest of a family of five - she has four brothers - wore a full length “amazing” backless burnt orange gown which “fitted like a glove”. It was from Pia and was “very affordable” she says.
When she was announced as the winner of the Miss Galway contest she was stunned, she says. “I remember hearing the names of the runners-up being called and I thought I might get a place. When I found out I won I was in total shock, it was an amazing feeling, it was one of the best feelings. It was so unexpected, so last minute, such a whirlwind. Everyone is extremely proud of me.”
She hopes her fashion background will help her as she prepares for the Miss Ireland contest which takes place later this month. She will be able to avail of excellent advice from her colleagues at Pia as well as her mum - Orla Moore who teaches fashion at GTI - and her brother who has completed his studies in fashion design at Limerick Institute of Technology.
She cannot disclose what type of dress she is wearing for the Miss Ireland final, which takes place at the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin, insisting laughingly that it is “top secret”. It will be sponsored by Harper Boutique in Francis Street. Her nails will be sponsored by the Beauty Lounge at Corbettcourt and she has received hair extensions from Zenith Hair Salon in Eyre Street.a
As the countdown to the contest begins she is busy preparing for the event. “I will be putting a lot of work into it. The competition will be fierce. I’m going to take most of my inspiration from past winners and put my own twist on it.”
She hopes the fact that she is a “very normal, down to earth” person will help her succeed. She has chosen Abalta Special School for children with autism and complex needs as her charity for the year.
“It is such a huge honour for me to be representing Galway. It would be brilliant to win Miss Ireland. I’m already Miss Galway so anything else would be a bonus.”