Miss Limerick Nollaig Malone ambassador for Sophie’s Journey Foundation pictured with active running and cycling group who meet up weekly and constantly promote Sophie’s Journey Foundation with their gear.
Nollaig Malone is a 21-year-old girl from Corbally, Limerick who has been crowned Miss Limerick 2015. She will represent Limerick in Miss Ireland, a national beauty pageant held in Ireland each year, to celebrate the country’s most beautiful women. Winners of the contest represent Ireland at the Miss World pageant. You may have the preconception that the pageant is just a beauty contest, however where Nollaig Malone is concerned it is much, much more.
We caught up with Nollaig ahead of the Miss Ireland competition which is happenening on August 28 to find out what she has been getting up to in her new role.
Nollaig hopes to become the first blonde Miss Ireland since Laura Patterson in 2009. Nollaig is entering her final year in NUIG studying Media through Irish and is a proud fluent Irish speaker. She defies the sterotype that Miss Ireland is solely about modelling and beauty. Nollaig explains why she entered Miss Ireland: “I have wanted to do Miss Ireland for years, I thought my friends would slag me and tell me to get over myself. With my mams encouragement I decided to get into it for my career because I want to be a television producer or a radio presenter so having something like Miss Ireland on my CV will look so good. It has been mad, I never really thought about modelling to be honest, when I won Celia Holman Lee asked me to do a bit of modelling so I was delighted, wouldn’t turn down an opportunity that would help me get into media, and now it is another addition to my CV, it is mad but it has been great.”
It is difficult to convey how focused this young girl is. Nollaig loves her course and is hugely driven to become a television or radio presenter/producer: “Just before being crowned Miss Limerick I worked as an intern at Limerick’s Live 95fm on the Limerick Today show with Joe Nash. As an intern I was scripting shows, going on air, doing interviews with people, organising guests etc. I also worked as an account manager in an advertising company in Dublin last summer. They do all the Heineken and Meteor ads so I had to proofread ads and I was in recordings in studios and for all of the editing. Studying in the gaelteacht of NUIG I study cumarsáid which is media through Irish. We create radio shows by producing and scripting your own ideas and getting your own guests so it is a little harder to get guests with certain topics. I would be qualified for radio because I can work a desk and I could work a camera for TV and of course go in front of the camera. I love that I have the media background because it does help me to be a little bit more confident doing interviews and when I did the Rose of Tralee Fashion Show on Sunday I was a nervous, but a good nervous. As long as I didn’t trip, I didn’t mind the crowd and I learned that from learning to speak to crowds of over 150,000 on Live 95fm.”
Nollaig explained how her life has changed since she was crowned Miss Limerick: “My life has changed so much, I was waitressing in a restaurant and they have been so accommodating, I used to work four nights a week but now I only work one night or whenever I can. When I won Miss Limerick I did not think about the fact that the next step is Miss Ireland, it didn’t dawn on me. Now I am in the media eye there was pieces on me in The Post and The Limerick Leader, we did photoshoots for the Sunday World and RSVP, I swear to God I have never seen myself in so many magazines and papers my friend said to me recently “You’re in everything I open I’m sick of looking at you” I was in the Mirror and the Irish Times for a photo shoot last week, I just cringe when I see them but it is so much fun! We are constantly up and down to Dublin with photo shoots for Miss Ireland I never knew how to model, I hadn’t a clue I didn’t know where to put my legs I was like a big awkward long thing, even looking back at photos when I first did my first photo shoot the week after Miss Ireland, by God I look dreadful I didn’t know what I was doing. But now I look at them and you can see I am learning and progressing. The modelling aspect of it has been so much fun I have learned so much and I actually look nice in photos now which are a plus.”
While the experience, is all fun and games at the minute, Nollaig is still very serious about her career: “I will never rule out modelling but my passion is media and that’s my main focus and aim, I want to be a presenter or producer. I live in Galway city and my course is in the gaeltacht, I travel 50 km in and out every day because I am determined to get where I want to be and that is what I want to do and I think this is a stepping stone for it and I think it is going to be amazing the amount of doors this could open. I am going into my final year, if I won Miss Ireland I would defer the year because I am only 21 and I’m not 22 until next summer. So if I don’t win I will be going back to my thesis however my car broke down and I don’t have accommodation in Galway yet so I am hoping that these are signs I am going to win! If you win Miss Ireland, you go to Sanya in China for four weeks in November for Miss World so that experience alone and to see everyone’s cultures would be out of this world, you would just learn so much.”
Nollaig has been thrown into the media limelight but she says the charity aspect is the most gratifying: “Getting involved with charities has to be my favourite part of being Miss Limerick. I have worked with Friends of the Elderly for the last three years since my granny died. I was very close to my granny because it was me and my mam mainly and my granny would have reared me with my mam. When she died, I was a bit lost so I went to Friends of the Elderly to spend time with the elderly. I do things like bring them to their very important hair appointments and bingo nights, and even the elderly men are hilarious. I have kept my charities local, I want to push Limerick and boost Limerick as much as I can in the most positive light possible. I have become an ambassador for Sophie’s Journey Foundation,“my little cousin has a heart condition and Sophie’s Journey help provide in-home respite care for children that are terminally ill and have other conditions. I want to use my influence as Miss Limerick and show that they do need help, awareness and funds for all these other children to get nurses in their homes. Sophie was a beautiful, precious little thing, and the impact she had on people was phenomenal. They also work with St. Gabriels school for all the children and I am planning a coffee morning in October to raise funds.”
I am also with the Mid West Spina Bifida Association, my dad’s best friend’s son has Spina Bifida and they are very involved. I did a press launch with them last week, they are doing a Super hero parade on Sunday to raise funds. Just to see a smile on their faces is brilliant, you get so much gratification just seeing the difference you can make is amazing, modelling is great and all but working with charities is the best part. Working with these charities and seeing what these people do is amazing, the things they are doing for Limerick and all these other families is out of this world.”
You might think that Nollaig goes home every evening and plans her outfits for the Miss Ireland evening but the sitaution is actually quite the opposite: “So Miss Ireland is fast approaching and I don’t even have my dresses yet, I’m a hot mess! I feel very underprepared but I can throw myself into the deep end and I will chug on it will be grand. The lads are great Sean and Brendan are both the organisers and they have been so helpful because I had no experience in pageants whatsoever and they are always there for advice. The Limerick community as a whole is amazing I have never seen so much support, I am getting over 200 likes on photos online and everything I do like the Miss RSVP photo shoot is part of Miss Ireland where people vote online and I got into the top 10! Even from the local business, papers, radio stations, I can’t get over it we are such a small community and such a great community at the same time.
Banishing another stereotype, Nollaig says that all of the Miss Ireland contestants get on famously: “The girls in Miss Ireland are like a little family, there are 32 of us and there is a stereotype that is it catty – no not at all, you genuinely forget you are in a competition. Some of the girls have been in it previous years and they help you. We went to the adventure Islands in Westport a few weeks ago and we had a great time, I have a terrible fear of heights I have never even jumped off the boards in Kilkee! All the girls were so supportive even with doing a bungee jump, they were all laughing at me and helping me along.”
Finally, we asked Nollaig, what exactly is it that she loves about Limerick?: “The community, I was chatting to Ricahrd the other day and we were just saying that one of the lads could be driving behind you and you’d do something stupid and he would beep at you but then if your car conked it would be the same person to stop and helping you. The weather of course is beautiful! The charities, even Corbett Suicide Prevention walk those bridges noon and night, the papers the radio community, the people! I am in Galway every week but I still come home limerick every weekend for friends, family, and my Granny’s dinner. Even the playgrounds I have memories playing on the swings with my friend Lauren and now I still see people bringing their kids there. I absolutely love limerick I wouldn’t be Miss Limerick if I didn’t!”
On behalf of everyone at I Love Limerick we want to wish Miss Limerick Nollaig Malone the very best of luck inMiss Ireland and all of her ventures.
Read more about Nollaig here.
Check out more about Miss Ireland here.