Tipperary's Shannon Brennan and Andrea O’Rourke
Tipperary’s two Miss Ireland semi-finalists are encouraging people to stay positive during the third Covid-19 lockdown.
Skeheenarinky’s Shannon Brennan and Holycross’ Andrea O’Rourke are excited to be representing the county at the virtual event this Sunday, February 28, and are hoping to join Miss Tipperary Maeve Yee in the Miss Ireland grand final.
Both contestants have been using the Miss Ireland platform to raise awareness, funds and inject positivity into society during the pandemic.
Shannon raised funds for Variety - the Children’s Charity of Ireland by taking part in a make-up free challenge.
Last November, she organised The Great Barnardo’s Bake-Off virtual fundraiser, where she encouraged people to bake and donate from home amid lockdown restrictions. The fundraiser raised €800 for the South Tipperary Barnardo’s branch.
“I am thrilled to be working with such a brilliant charity, as the work they do has never been so important with many children and families struggling even more with Covid restrictions,” Shannon says.
Shannon says the beauty pageant has been a “huge confidence booster” and has given the contestants something to look forward to.
She encourages young people to have a can-do mindset during the lockdown. “I know a lot of young people have missed out on so much in the last few months in terms of college, travelling and nights out, and it seems we have nothing to be excited for anymore,” she says.
“Our experience of this pandemic seems to be pushed aside a little in terms of the lack of sympathy out there for young people, who have missed out on major milestones in their lives.
“But I feel that events like this and even taking up a new hobby or finding a new interest can really help my age group to stay sane during this pandemic.
“As an act of self-care, I would encourage young people to try not to focus on all the things we can’t do, but rather try to find something you can do and enjoy yourself,” Shannon adds.
Andrea has been raising awareness for Down Syndrome Ireland and Nurture Africa, an international development organisation working in Uganda.
She is both excited and nervous ahead of the semi-final. “It’s unfortunate that we cannot attend the event in Dublin and meet all the girls, but it will still be lovely to get all dolled up at home. I am hoping I will be lucky enough to get into the Miss Ireland grand final and represent my county,” Andrea says.
“I am very grateful to have even gotten this far and I am delighted to have this experience. It’s something I have never done before and it was quite daunting at the start, but I am so glad I did it now as I am loving the experience. It’s great to step out of your comfort zone and do something you have never done before,” Andrea says.
The Marketing student at Cork Institute of Technology, who says the third lockdown has been “the toughest yet”, is encouraging people to stay positive.
She has been working with a virtual styling company based in Cork and spending her spare time reading, doing yoga and pilates, baking, and meditating.
“There are vaccines developed, so there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” she says.
“This is a great time to try something new or something that you have never done before. Self-care is extremely important right now,” she adds.
Miss Tipperary organiser Esme Mansergh-Wallace says hopes are high in the Premier County that Shannon and Andrea will reach the Miss Ireland final.
“We are very hopeful that both Shannon and Andrea will follow in Bailey Gavin and Ciara Coman’s shoes, who were last year’s successful semi-finalists, and join our current Miss Tipperary Maeve Yee in the Miss Ireland final,” Esme says.
Ahead of the final, Shannon and Andrea recorded introductory and catwalk videos in four different outfits for pre judging last weekend. They will then be interviewed live by a panel of judges via Zoom on February 28.