Saturday 10 December 2016

Newly crowned Miss Ireland reveals heartbreak at late father's battle with Alzheimer's

Published 25/09/2016 | 13:39

Winner Niamh Kennedy representing Tipperary at the Miss Ireland 2016 final at Northwood, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Winner Niamh Kennedy representing Tipperary at the Miss Ireland 2016 final at Northwood, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Miss Ireland 2016 Niamh Kennedy is congratulated by her brother Colin Kennedy and aunt Brid Morgan at the Miss Ireland 2016 final at Northwood, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Miss Tipperary Niamh Kennedy has been named Miss Ireland 2016. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Winner Niamh Kennedy representing Tipperary at the Miss Ireland 2016 final at Northwood, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Miss Tipperary Niamh Kennedy has been named Miss Ireland 2016. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Miss Ireland 2016 Niamh Kennedy on her first day as Miss Ireland 2016 at the Crowne Plaze Hotel at Northwood, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Winner Niamh Kennedy representing Tipperary at the Miss Ireland 2016 final at Northwood, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Aoife McGrane, 1st runner up, Leanne Gray-2nd runner up and winner Niamh Kennedy at the Miss Ireland 2016 final. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Miss Ireland 2016 Niamh Kennedy with first runner up Aoife McGrane, left, and second runner up Leanne Gray, right, at the Miss Ireland 2016 final. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Miss Ireland 2016 Niamh Kennedy is crowned by last year's winner Sacha Livingstone at the Mss Ireland 2016 final at Northwood, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy

Newly crowned Miss Ireland Niamh Kennedy has opened up about losing her father to Alzheimer's.

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The 20-year-old ballerina, who was representing Tipperary at the national competition on Friday night, said her late father Liam would be "so proud" of her fulfilling her dream.

"My dad passed away five years ago and he would be so proud. He was diagnosed with early Alzheimer's at 42 years old and my aunt and uncle were diagnosed within three years after him as well," she told the Sunday World.

"If he was here, he would have been the first one on stage. I was really close to him."

Miss Ireland 2016 Niamh Kennedy is congratulated by her brother Colin Kennedy and aunt Brid Morgan at the Miss Ireland 2016 final at Northwood, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Miss Ireland 2016 Niamh Kennedy is congratulated by her brother Colin Kennedy and aunt Brid Morgan at the Miss Ireland 2016 final at Northwood, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy

Miss Kennedy said her father began showing signs of the disease when she was just five years old , but "his presence is still very much here".

"This win really is for him as well," she added.

Miss Tipperary Niamh Kennedy beat out 33 other beauty queens from around the country for the coveted title in a glitzy ceremony at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Santry and she will now represent Ireland at Miss World in Washington D.C. on December 19, following in the footsteps of previous title holders Sarah Morrissey, Aoife Cogan and Aoife Walsh.

Judges included talent agent Julian Benson, Bellamianta Tan CEO Linda Mc Namee, stylist Sonja Mohlich, Miss Ireland organiser Sean Montague and former winners Jessica Hayes and Anne Marie Gannon.

Winner Niamh Kennedy representing Tipperary at the Miss Ireland 2016 final at Northwood, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Winner Niamh Kennedy representing Tipperary at the Miss Ireland 2016 final at Northwood, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy

The pageant, which first began in 1947, is the longest running in the world and launched the careers of many of Ireland's top models.

Michelle Rocca came in as second runner-up at Miss International 1981; Siobhan McClafferty was first runner-up at Miss World 1990; Olivia Tracey got into the Top 10 at Miss Universe 1985; Andrea Roche achieved the same placement at Miss Universe 1998; Rosanna Davison represented Ireland at Miss World 2003; and Emma Waldron was placed in the Top 5 at Miss World 2010.  

Winner Niamh Kennedy representing Tipperary at the Miss Ireland 2016 final at Northwood, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy
Winner Niamh Kennedy representing Tipperary at the Miss Ireland 2016 final at Northwood, Dublin. Picture: Brian McEvoy

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