Shannon, 20, from Skeheenarinky, Co Tipperary is a English and History student in UCC. She was named 1st runner up at the Miss Tipperary selection night last year and is now hoping to secure her place in the Miss Ireland semi-final later this month.
What's your idea of a perfect day, or perfect weekend in Tipperary?
My idea of a perfect day in Tipperary would consist of heading into Cahir with a few friends to walk around the castle grounds and enjoy the beautiful walk up to Swiss Cottage. The walk around is always full of families and friends taking a stroll which creates such a lovely atmosphere around the place. The walkway is always so well maintained and clean, making it such an enjoyable walk and a great way to discharge from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. To finish off the day I love heading to my favourite café in Cahir, The Lazy Bean, to enjoy some of the Kinder Bueno pancakes (try and thank me later!).
Who has made the greatest contribution to Tipperary in your lifetime - and why?
I absolutely adore Una Healy and I think she is such an inspiration for young women. Even though she came from a small place she still managed to achieve so much in such a short space of time with her music career. She has overcome so much already and still remains humble and genuine which I feel makes her a brilliant role model for all young Tipperary women.
What's your first Tipperary memory?
One of my first memories in Tipperary would be travelling to Semple Stadium aged 5 to watch Tipperary play. My family are huge Tipperary hurling fans (excluding my Dad who hails from Kilkenny) and for as long as I can remember I have been brought to Thurles to watch many great battles.
What's your favourite part of the county - and why?
I may be slightly biased, but I am extremely lucky to live in what I consider to be one of the most beautiful places in the country, Skeheenarinky. Living two minutes from the car park up to the Galtees allows me to hike up to Galtee Mór as regularly as I want (although I have to admit I don’t get a chance to do it as often as I would like). So for me, my favourite part of the county would have to be Skeheenarinky.
What do you think gives Tipperary its unique identity?
I think the people of Tipperary give it its unique identity. There is such a huge community spirit in Tipperary, from GAA to charity work, Tipperary people are extremely giving of their time. I couldn’t be prouder to be from Tipperary.
Do you have a favourite local writer or author?
One of the best and funniest books I have ever read has to be The 2 Johnnies “C’mere and I Tell Ya”. So brilliantly written and hilarious, I could not put it down. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone looking for a laugh over Lockdown.
What's the biggest challenge facing the county today?
I think the biggest challenge facing the county today is young people and families living in poverty. From my own research and work organising a virtual fundraiser for Barnardos Children’s Charity, I learned that poverty in Tipperary is a far bigger problem than I had ever imagined. Many children and families are struggling to even put food on the table, and Covid has heightened these problems. I believe that with more fundraising and resources, major changes can and must be made to help more Tipperary families in need.
If you had the power to change one thing in, or about Tipperary, what would it be?
If I could wave a magic wand, I would love to give young Tipperary women confidence in their own skin and abilities. So many young women today are lacking confidence and because of this they are preventing themselves from achieving their goals. That is why I am hoping to teach my Cinderella workshops when Lockdown ends to girls aged 13-18. Although these workshops aren’t a magic fix, they may help some young girls to gain some self-confidence, learn self-care and to remember that “comparison is the thief of joy”.
Why did you decide to run for Miss Tipperary?
Many years ago, the former Miss Tipperary and Miss Ireland, Niamh Kennedy visited my school and really inspired me to take part in the competition. At the time I was 15 and was really lacking confidence and I hoped that one day I would feel comfortable enough in my own skin to go for such an opportunity. When Covid happened, I decided that it was the perfect time to take part as I would have something to focus on and look forward to and I am so happy I entered. The competition has allowed me to gain confidence in my ability to speak in front of a crowd, overcome challenges and it has allowed me to stop caring so much of what other people think. I would recommend any girl to take part as it is such a lovely experience and a brilliant excuse to get involved in your local community by doing charity work.