Newly crowned Miss Ireland reveals heartbreak at late father's battle with Alzheimer's
Newly crowned Miss Ireland Niamh Kennedy has opened up about losing her father to Alzheimer's.
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 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.
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.