Miss Eibhlis Maher (International Miss Macra festival PRO), reports:-
This year (2015) celebrates the 44th anniversary of the International Miss Macra Festival. The festival is run annually by the Clonoulty/Rossmore Macra na Feirme club; held over the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights of the annual August Bank Holiday weekend.
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Once again this year’s festival will see young ladies travelling from all over Ireland and beyond and all converging on Co. Tipperary to compete for the honour of being crowned International Miss Macra 2015 (succeeding the much admired, 2014 winner Miss Bríd Cooney.).
History of the Miss Macra Festival
With regards to the history of this most prestigious of events, the International Miss Macra Festival is one real example of a ‘personality competition’. This festival was originally founded by Mr Paddy Heffernan, Mr Tom Horan and Mr Michael Slattery back in 1972 and has grown from strength to strength every year since conception.
In the very beginning after approaching Macra National Headquarters, the founding members received little enthusiastic support for their idea, however they were determined to succeed and decided to organise the competition ‘of their own bat’. Major success followed and by 1987, for the twenty-fifth anniversary there were thirty-two contestants, one from every county in Ireland. Also during the 1980’s the festival began to attract participation from rural youth and agricultural organisations abroad, such as the 4H clubs in America, the Scottish Young Farmers and many more.
The International Miss Macra competition is unique, due mainly to the fact that it is organised solely by a local Macra Club and not via any County Executive. The Miss Macra festival has a huge community base also, with the contestants staying with host families from around the locality for the duration of the festival period. The pinnacle point of the festival is that it is, perhaps, the best example within Macra of what a local club can achieve, demonstrating strong dedication and team-like commitment.
The local community play an important part in this festival, with many households taking on the role of a host family for each of the contestants, year after year. The tradition of the contestants staying with host families is very strong and contestants are adopted into the very heart of each host family’s home for the full duration of the festival, where a warm welcome is guaranteed. The host families are a very important part of this community based festival and Clonoulty/Rossmore Macra na Feirme club are very grateful each year for this support, generosity, commitment and loyalty.
International Miss Macra Festival Venue – Dundrum House Hotel, Tipperary
The luxurious Dundrum House Hotel (latter winner of a certificate of excellence in 2012) has once again been chosen as the prominent venue for this year’s festival. Described as an oasis in the Golden Vale; Dundrum House Hotel boasts the perfect setting for those seeking relaxation and fun. The historic, picturesque building was originally constructed in the early eighteenth century by the O’Dwyers of Kilnamanagh, as the centrepiece of their vast estate.
Dundrum House was purchased by Austin and Mary Crowe in 1978 and after extensive refurbishment and renovation it was opened as Dundrum House Hotel in 1981. The grounds of this hotel also boast an impressive and popular eighteen-hole golf course. The festival committee are very grateful to Dundrum House Hotel for their past, present and hopefully future support of this International Miss Macra Festival.
International Miss Macra Programme 2015
This festival will kick-start on Friday July 31st when this year’s contestants will meet the festival committee in the grounds of the luxurious Dundrum House Hotel at midday. Friday afternoon comprises an adventure for the contestant, where they are treated like royalty and get the opportunity to see something new. This year the contestants will be taken on a personal tour of the world renowned and worldly acclaimed Coolmore Stud farm.
The contestants will then be treated to lunch in the much acclaimed ‘Lady Clementine Restaurant at Dundrum House Hotel. Later the contestants will take part in a ‘Zumba Class’ in Clonoulty Community Hall. This will be followed by a meet and greet session, where the ladies will meet there host families; a long-standing tradition of the festival.
Following on from the success of previous Friday nights, this year will also be a themed event. So grab your ‘Holsters’ and hold on to your ‘Stetsons’, as this year’s fancy-dress theme is ‘Cowboys and Indians’. Doors will open at 10:00pm and tickets are €10 each.
Saturday morning heralds an intense day for the contestants, as they must rise early and prepare for their interviews with the judges. As in other years, there are three judges who are given the difficult task of selecting one girl from this year’s twenty two contestants, one of which will to be crowned International Miss Macra 2015. This year’s judges are Joan Pollard Carew, published poet, long term patron of the festival and well known in Irish artistic and traditional dancing circles. Joan is also the wife of Michael Carew, of ‘Michael Carew Jewellers‘ who remains one of the main sponsors of this festival and who has also contributed greatly to the festival in terms of granting immeasurable time, resources and advice.
Joan Pollard Carew will be joined by Declan Ryan, who has held every post on the Miss Macra festival committee and currently holds the title of President of the Clonoulty/Rossmore Macra club. This year the judging panel will also be joined by Noirin Ryan Forrestall. Noirin represented County Tipperary in the Rose of Tralee Festival in 2011 and has previously been a member of the International Miss Macra Festival Committee while also performing a very active role in her local community of Clonoulty/Rossmore.
All contestant’s interviews will be concluded by 1:00pm and will be followed by a Surprise Event which will begin sharp at 2:00pm, involving all contestants, supporters, friends and family. As the afternoon draws to a close, its back to Dundrum House Hotel for the ‘Cabaret’, where each contestant will be interviewed (two at a time) on stage by Mike Egan, a previous Macra member and indeed long-term friend of the festival. This year these interviews will take place in the specially constructed festival marquee and will be followed by live music from Midnight Run and DJ in ‘The Venue‘ Nightclub, where the contestants and their supporters can dance the night away. Tickets for this Saturday night extravaganza are just €15 each.
Sunday Morning will start with the contestants attending a special Mass in Clonoulty Parish Church. The choir performing at this ceremony are comprised of members of Clonoulty Rossmore Macra together with members of the local parish community. Following Mass, the contestants will take part in a family fun field day, in the local Clonoulty G.A.A grounds. This fun event is a mixture between a ‘Macra Field Day’ and ‘School Sports Day’ and here the contestants will have to show their worth by participating in many country inspired activities. All this will be followed by an outdoor barbecue, (weather permitting).
Immediately after the sports day the preparations for the Miss Macra Ball will commence. There will be hairdressers and beauticians on site for both the contestants and committee members to avail, but note – pre-booking is essential. Sunday night is always the highlight of this festival as the International Miss Macra Gala Banquet draws to a close in Dundrum House Hotel Ballroom. To begin with, all the contestants plus their escorts are photographed professionally before a Champagne Reception, beginning sharp at 6:00pm. The contestants, their handsome escorts, the invaluable host-families, and various supporters together with Macra and non Macra members, will all sit down to enjoy a delicious five course meal. Tickets for the banquet are €50 each and pre-booking is essential. The meal is followed by various speeches, which will include, this year, an address by newly elected Macra President Mr Sean Finan.
Speeches are followed by live music and dancing and, at the enchanted hour of 12:00 midnight, silence will descend on the ballroom, as anticipation reaches climax point as to the chosen winner of this year’s International Miss Macra festival. The newly crowned winner and two runner ups will then have their photographs taken with the main sponsors of the festival e.g. Dundrum House Hotel and Golf Course, Joan and Michael Carew Jewellers, FBD Insurance and Tipperary Co-op.
As the 2015 festival draws to a close; the entire ballroom fills with Macra and non-Macra members who dance into the early hours. Here tickets can be booked by ringing Festival Chairperson Donnacha Ryan on Mobile 085 7771859.
Note: Special Ticket Concessions
This year there are two special offers; with an entire ‘all areas‘ weekend ticket costing just €70, which includes entry into the Friday and Saturday night events as well as the Sunday banquet and ‘afters’. Also there is available an entertainment package costing €35, which includes entry for the Friday, Saturday and the afters of the Banquet on Sunday night.
This weekend, as always, promises to be a great weekend of fun and Clonoulty/Rossmore Macra na Feirme club look forward meeting and greeting, once again, past old friends from last and previous years events.