Kilkenny Contestant Crowned Queen of the Land 2005
Double win for Kilkenny as Murphy Family celebrates
(29/12/05 New Pictures in Gallery, This Years Prizes, Archive Updates, Contact Page Updated, Previous Winners Updated )
KILKENNY CONTESTANT CROWNED QUEEN OF THE LAND
Elaine Murphy “Treated like a Queen” The Murphy family from Kilmanagh was celebrating a unique double this week as Elaine Murphy was crowned Queen of the Land in Co Offaly last weekend. Only a few months ago, her sister Andrea took top spot in the International Miss Macra competition in Tipperary. It is believed to be the first time that two sisters have held the titles at the same time. Elaine was highly praised by the judging committee and her fellow contestants who said she was a worthy winner of the prestigous event.
It was a hectic weekend for Elaine who attended a host of events laid on for her and the twenty-two other contestants over three days. She was representing Callan Macra at the event. “It was the best weekend of my life” Elaine enthused “we were treated like real Queens over the weekend, with the organising committee doing everything in their power to make every one of us feel special.” When asked of her highlights of the weekend she made special mention of the Treasure hunt which contestants took part in throughout Tullamore on Saturday. ”We were running all over town looking for clues wearing our sashes and getting great reaction from all the public” she said. “Everybody was trying to help us find our way but the clues had even the people of Tullamore confused at times.“ she laughed. The special mass for deceased Macra members in Tullamores’ beautiful church of the Assumption also got a mention. “The Tullamore gospel choir sang at it; they are the largest in the country” she said “It was an amazing experience watching this huge amount of people dressed in shining blue and red gowns singing the most powerful and beautiful songs. We all just wanted to stand up, clap and join in!”
Elaine’s family and members of Kilkenny Macra were on hand to cheer her on over the weekend and were delighted with the double success for family, club and county. Elaine’s mother who was christened “The Queen Mother” in the aftermath of the announcement was stunned. “To have one girl winning is great, but when it’s repeated by her sister it is amazing.” Asked what the secret to having such a winning formula in the family she said “There is no secret. They are just two wonderful girls with great personalities and I am so proud of them both.”
Elaine attended a special gala banquet on the Friday night of the event, which celebrated the 40th birthday of the festival. Thirty-five of the previous thirty-nine winners were on hand for a nostalgic trip down memory lane. “It was great to see so many former Queens” she said “and talking to them on the night brought home to me how special an event it is as the women had such fond memories of the festival.” She added “I hope I can live up to the title of Queen of the Land as well as they obviously have.”
Speaking of her on-stage interview on Saturday night in front of a huge crowd she said she was “a bit nervous beforehand but Terry (The M.C.) guided me through it so well it was over before I knew it.”. Afterwards the girls partied their way into the early hours of Sunday morning. “I didn’t get very much sleep any night” said Elaine “and there was a couple of girls who got to bed at all but I won’t name names” she smiled.
Elaine took home the coveted Journal sponsored Queen of the Land title with a prize of €1000 and holiday and fashion vouchers. Waterford’s’ Marita Kelly took the runner-up spot while Vanessa Kerr from Ardee in Louth was third. It is something of a co-incidence that Kilkenny won this years event as the festival was initiated in 1964 as part of the Kilkenny beer festival but moved to Tullamore two years later and the event has been held there since. The festival has had to be cancelled just once over the years and that was because of the foot and mouth outbreak of 2001.
The judging panel for the event was Emmett Maloney, Editor of The Journal, the reigning Queen of the Land, Catherine McCollum from Cavan and special guest judge Sorcha Ni Cheide who stars as Riona in TG4 soap Ros Na Run. Chairman of the panel, Emmet Maloney, paid tribute to Elaine who he said was “a wonderful girl” adding that “Elaine has a great personality and is a worthy winner. She is a prime example of the best of modern Irish rural females”
Contestants were judged on a range of attributes. The event is primarily a personality contest with marks also on offer for appearance, dress sense, rural knowledge and elocution. In addition, contestants underwent an interview encompassing a discussion on one of two pre-chosen topics.
The festival, which has grown from humble beginnings, is now one of the most prestigious events on the Offaly social calendar. This year it attracted over two thousand visitors to the Offaly capital at an otherwise quite time of year for tourism. The event expanded this year to coincide with the 40th celebrations with a sister festival of alternative music and bar extensions running throughout almost 30 pubs in the town.