Miss Ireland chiefs knew my age before contest, says winner stripped of crown

Claire Murphy and Laura Butler

THE Miss Ireland winner forced to hand back her crown has claimed that organisers knew her real age before the competition.

At 25 years old, the newly crowned Miss Ireland was sensationally stripped of her title for being too old.

Maire Hughes, who won Miss Mayo, was told that she does not fit the criteria for the Miss World contest in Inner Mongolia.

Organisers claim they thought that Maire, who was born in Canada and now lives in Galway, was eligible when entering the competition.

The rules state that contestants must be 25 years old or less, unmarried and have no children.

However, at a meeting to outline her duties and responsibilities at the weekend, it was discovered that Maire would be 26 when she took part in the world final.

But in a sensational twist, Maire claimed a Miss Ireland representative had been made aware of her age three days before the final.

Maire said that she was told it was not a major problem.


"I made no attempt to conceal my age," she said. "I did notice that there was an age requirement and I made an enquiry with a Miss Ireland representative. In the course of a telephone conversation I was advised by one of the representatives that this was not a significant issue."

Maire said that on Sunday she had a meeting with organiser Sean Montague and in the course of that meeting, he asked her what her age was and she "made no attempt to conceal it".

"It was clear to me that this came as a surprise to him and for the first time I was told this was a significant problem and I was too old," Maire said.

"I have no difficulty relinquishing the title of Miss Ireland if that is what the organisers desire and I wish the runner up, Rebecca Maguire, every success in the Miss World competition."

Sean Montague said: "We are very fond of Maire and wish her all the very best in the future -- she is a beautiful girl both inside and out and we have no doubt that she will have a great career ahead."

Runner-up Rebecca Maguire (20) automatically received the title of Miss Ireland 2012.

It was second-time lucky for Miss Wright Venue Rebecca, who also came second in 2011 when she was just pipped at the post by Holly Carpenter.

Rebecca said that she was "speechless" at the turn of events. "I'm just happy now to be able to go and represent Ireland at Miss World," she said. "I feel for Maire and my heart would go out to her."

hnews@ herald.ie