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International Miss Macra Musings

Starting next Thursday July 28th, Tipperary’s longest running festival, International Miss Macra, will celebrate it’s 40th Anniversary.  Joan Pollard Carew, (Michael’s Jewellers’, Friar Street, Thurles.) Macra Sponsor, Published Poetess, and Thurles Community Activist writes:-

Joan Pollard Carew

“I am both proud and honoured to state that I have been involved with International Miss Macra almost since its inception, forty years ago. In 1987, I was invited to join the adjudicating panel and was thrilled to accept. I am delighted to be one of the longest standing adjudicators and sponsors of this successful festival.

Over the years I was privileged to sit on the ‘Judging Panel,’ with Patsy Lawlor (Farmers Journal) Martin Ryan (Limerick Leader) Deputy Teresa Ahern (RIP) Jim Dockery, Matt O’Keefe, Eileen Leamy, Alma Heffernan, Deirdre Crowe and Declan Ryan to name just a few.
I have met and interviewed hundreds of contestants from every county in Ireland. Since the festival became International, we have had contestants from Germany, Holland, Russia, Poland, Scotland and New York. I am proud of all the decisions made by me and my fellow adjudicators over the years.
Our task is difficult, but very enjoyable, as we meet, chat and share time with a wonderful group of young ladies all eager to carry the title home.

I have been privileged to work with numerous Macra Committee Members, all who put their own stamp on the International Miss Macra festival.  In the earlier years Paddy Heffernan, Michael Slattery and Tom Horan were among the founder members of the event, Paddy is still very involved today. I worked with Simon Loughman, John Ryan, Eamon and Geraldine Coleman, Jim Dockery, Eileen Leamy, Pat Fogarty, Declan Ryan, Claire Ryan, and the present Chairperson Mary Lyng.

I have fond memories of the earlier years of the festival and the field evenings (Held to raise funding.) up in the cattle mart, at Cabra Road, Thurles.  My husband Michael and I were approached for sponsorship by Tim Curran from Clonoulty. That year we sponsored trophies for the field evening. This was our introduction to this wonderful festival as sponsors.

Thurles was the host town of the festival in the earlier years. Clonoulty Rossmore Macra Na Feirme brought a tremendous festival to the town over the August bank holiday weekend, for over thirty years. This added greatly to the economy of the town.

The festival usually started on the last Friday evening in July. Contestants arrived in the car park in Cathedral Street, Thurles, on floats and then were paraded up Liberty Square, to a specially erected platform, usually Dwan’s lorry, decked out in beautiful flower arrangements. The competing young ladies were escorted on to the stage and introduced to the huge assembled crowd. The job of introducing the contestants was very ably conducted over the years by numerous personalities including Jackie Griffin, (RIP) Philip Ryan, PJ Broderick, Eamon Coleman and Mike Egan.

Saturday morning Hayes Hotel in the Square was buzzing as the girls arrived for interviews. Saturday night saw The Premier Hall hosting the Cabaret, then it was dancing time and fun as contestant’s locals and visitors danced chatted and strangers became friends.

The sports day followed Sunday mass in Rossmore. Contestants, host family’s, locals and visitors travelled the short distance to the hurling field in Clonoulty. This was followed by a BBQ, prepared and cooked by the local ICA ladies.

Sunday night was Banquet Night and over the years this was held in Hayes Hotel or The Anner Hotel. Contestants were then coached to The Premier Hall to dance to The Paddies and the announcement and crowning of the winning girl.

International Miss Macra Festival has become the highlight in our calendar of events here in Co Tipperary. The festival has brought thousands of visitors from all over Ireland and parts of Europe to Co Tipperary for this August bank holiday period over the years. The festival is instrumental in helping us showcase Co Tipperary as a destination for holidaymakers who enjoy historical buildings, good fishing, equine activities, forest walks, traditional music / dancing and superb high street shopping.

We are the Premier County in the heart of the Golden Vale and extend a hand of friendship to all who visit us, small wonder that we have holidaymakers returning every year to our beautiful county.

International Miss Macra festivals has gone from strength to strength thanks to the foresight and hardworking committees over the years.”

The festival is now hosted in Dundrum House Hotel and Golf Resort. The ambiance of this great house and resort is a perfect location for this truly prestigious festival.

This festival begins Thursday 28th July and runs until Sunday July 31st, 2011 inclusive.

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