'I wish dad could see me now...he'd be so proud'
Stunning new Miss Ireland Niamh Kennedy said she was the happiest girl in Ireland yesterday as she dedicated her win to her beloved late father Liam.
The six-foot beauty from Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, said she felt her dad was with her on stage as she beat 33 other contestants to win the crown on Saturday night.
“My dad passed away five years ago and he would be so proud,” said the emotional 20-year-old.
“He was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at 42 years old and my aunt and uncle were diagnosed within three years after him as well.
“If he was here he would have been the first one on stage. I was really close to him.
“I know he was here with me on stage. He is always with me. He got sick when I was five and I did not have him for very long, but his presence is still very much here.
“This win really is for him as well. I really hope I made him proud tonight. I am delighted, so happy.
“We are very, very close as a family because of it. I am so strong because of it.”
Niamh said she could not stop the tears when she was announced as the winner at a glitzy ball in Dublin’s Crowne Plaza Hotel.
She was backed by a table of 10 friends and family including mum Catherine and older brother Colm.
“My family just shouted, I couldn’t really hear them. I was bawling and my mum was bawling. She looked so proud. I think even my brother shed a few tears.
He is 23 and has loved meeting all the girls.
“It is absolutely amazing to win and I am so excited. I can’t believe it was me. This is beyond words.
“I don’t know how any other day could top this. It has been amazing.
“The numbers kept going down until there were just three of us. It was incredible.
“There were so many girls who I thought were so beautiful inside and out and we all really wanted it.
“Now I can’t wait to go to Washington in November for Miss World. I’ve been to America before, to New York, Florida and L.A., and loved it.”
Niamh just started college last week studying international finance and economics, after taking two years off to work as a model. She thinks she will now have to defer her studies.
The statuesque beauty said she had made friends for life in the competition and was particularly close to Miss RSVP Leanne Gray, who was also in the top three along with runner-up Miss Hairitage Aoife McGrane.
She said winning the title was even better than Tipp winning the hurling final against Kilkenny!
“We are a GAA family. It’s a really great year for Tipp.”
“Being in Miss Ireland was so much more than I expected. I did not realise I would come out of it with such great friends.
“It has been the most incredible experience I think I will ever have. I am so glad I entered now.”