Medical student Emma crowned Macra Queen

Claire Fox

Claire Fox

A young medical student, who is just as accustomed to mucking out in her wellies as she is to working on hospital wards, was crowned the 53rd WR Shaw Queen of the Land at the festival in Tullamore, Co Offaly at the weekend.

21-year-old Emma Birchall, from Kilcullen, Co Kildare managed to come out on top among the 31 women competing in the event on Sunday night. Speaking to the Farming Independent, the third-year University College Cork medical student says she was stunned by her win.

"I wasn't expecting it at all. I was completely shellshocked to hear my name called out. I couldn't believe it at all," she says.

Emma represented South Kildare Macra and impressed the judges during the private interviews on Saturday and again that night during the onstage ones.

"Everyone is nervous before they go on stage, but the adrenaline really kicked in for me when I got on stage and I really enjoyed it. I was proud to represent my club," she said.

Emma has been a member of her club since its foundation in 2015 and finds it gives her a break from her intense college timetable.

"I come home at the weekends and find it's a great way to relieve stress. We always do different activities and it's a great way to meet new faces as well," she adds.

Although Emma comes from a dairy farming background, she says that her hope for the year would be to show people that Macra is about more than farming.

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"It's not just about farming or for people with farming backgrounds. It's for anyone and everyone. I'd love to get that message out there even more as sometimes I think people get the wrong idea," she says.

Runner-up on the night was Melissa Glynn from Cranmore, Co Roscommon, while Lucy McClymont from the Dumfries and Galloway region in Scotland was third.

Escort of the Year Fergus O'Rourke received a weekend stay for two in the Bridge House Hotel and a €300 clothing voucher from Guy Clothing.

Prior to announcing the winner, judge and 2016 Queen Karen Elliffe complimented the women for being excellent ambassadors for their clubs and counties and wished the incoming 2017 Queen the very best of luck for the coming year.

Chair of the committee Ger Mahon says that Emma will make an "excellent ambassador" for the festival and thanked all those who support it every year.

"We have had another successful Queen of the Land festival," he said.

"Thanks to our main sponsors WR Shaw, the associate sponsors, committee and the travelling supporters who came from all over the country and beyond to Tullamore."

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