BY SEÁN P. FEENY
On SATURDAY, July 20, a young woman from West Donegal will be representing her county in the final of the 66th Miss Ireland Competition at the Ballsbridge Hotel in Dublin.
This year’s Miss Donegal is Orlagh McGee from Gortahork, a third level Retail Management and Marketing student at Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT).
Orlagh, who recently signed with the renowned Dublin model agency Assets, said she only recently built up the confidence to take part in these competitions.
She said: “I took part in a few Dublin competitions recently and it was through this that I met Glenties model Rose Boyle who encouraged me to go for Miss Donegal.”
The competitions for Miss Donegal and Miss Derry were held together at the Clanree Hotel on Friday, June 28, and so Orlagh has only had a short time to spread the word.
“There were a lot of really nice girls taking part, 18 in total, I never expected to win and was really delighted to represent my county,” said Orlagh.
Orlagh said there is a lot of preparation and organisation involved ahead of the main event. One of the most important parts is finding the outfits for the night and sponsors and she has kindly been sponsored by three Letterkenny businesses, Pure Boutique, McCullagh’s Jewellers and Greene’s Shoes who will ensure the Gortahork beauty is dressed to impress.
Signing with Assets last Christmas Orlagh has done several photo shoots in Dublin working with some of the best photographers in the industry which, she said, has given her a lot of confidence to take part in this competition.
Orlagh said: “I always wanted to do these things and looked up to former Miss Irelands, like Rosanna Davison, but I never really had the confidence until this year to enter the competition or to get involved in this, but I am really glad I did.”
Participating in the competition alone, Orlagh said, can give any young woman wanting to pursue a career in the modelling and fashion industry a very good platform.
“I think a lot of good opportunities come with it. Last year’s winner, Rebecca Maguire, has done a lot of work since winning, furthering her career and travelling a lot.”
Orlagh is now going into her final year studying DIT, while also working part-time with Abercrombie & Fitch as a stylist, which is part of her course and the career route she would like to take. “It’s great for the cv to get a lot of styling experience while I am still at college,” she said.
A native of Gortahork, where she lives with her mother Maire, who has a large extended family, many of whom will be attending the Miss Ireland finals , Orlagh grew up just around the corner from her national school Cashel na gCorr NS and then attended Pobalscoil Chloich Cheannfhaola before starting college.
She said: “Studying in Dublin has helped a lot as there are quite a few opportunities you can avail of living there, being a large city, but of course I am very proud and privileged to be representing my hometown of Gortahork and my home county at Miss Ireland.”