MARY Coughlan from Oola is this year’s Mary from Murroe.
The 20-year-old, who entered the competition for a bit of fun, was left speechless when she was announced as the pageant winner on Saturday night.
She even had to pinch herself on Sunday morning, to make sure it wasn’t all a dream.
“I never expected to win at all so it was a complete shock. I was just sitting on my bed on Saturday night and then when I woke up early the next morning I was thinking - did it really happen?” smiled Mary, who is a third year student of Irish and religion in St Patrick’s College in Thurles.
Prior to the competition, Mary didn’t know any of the other contestants.
She now has 11 new friends. “They are great – we formed a great bond.”
The blonde beauty, who was sponsored by WEMS, likened the experience to winning the Rose of Tralee.
“They had someone singing and I was given the sash, the crown and the flowers. It was like watching the Rose of Tralee. It is such a great experience, you enjoy every bit of it,” she said.
Amongst those cheering Mary on from both home and abroad were her friends and family including her mum Joan and seven siblings.
Sadly, Mary’s father Dan passed away last year. “He would have loved it, he would have been the first man there, definitely,” she smiled.
Mary celebrated her win in the company of family and friends in the marquee beside Crokers Bar in Murroe and returned again the following night for more of the festival fun.
Among the big attractions on Sunday evening was the donkey derby and the much anticipated pig racing.
For the second year in a row Mickie Meehan from Portnard near Cappamore rode the winner in the derby which was competed by six other donkeys. “It was brilliant. The field was fairly full so I’d say you are talking about 500 to 600 people coming to see it,” said Philip King of the festival organising committee.
And while it was hard to take your eyes off the action in the field, inquisitive onlookers were seen looking to the heavens as Boher man Jerry Humphries organised an impromptu air display.
The pig racing meanwhile, was a much more challenging race, not for the pigs but for the organisers. Stubborn by nature, the pigs needed an incentive to make their way to the finishing line and were coaxed along with buckets of food. Luckily they fell for the bait and upped the ante, quickening their pace as they went along. “It only took them about 11 seconds. They raced up the marquee twice. They became a bit restless so they were brought home,” said Philip.
“We dressed four lads in pig suits and we raced them also. Paul Holmes from Murroe was the winner of that,” Phil explained.
Other highlights over the weekend included the live music session by Shaun O’Dowd and Hanora, the cake sale, the barn dance and the rodeo competition which was won by Paula Ryan. There was also a hurling match between Murroe-Boher and Staker Wallace with the Stakers coming out on top by a point.
Chairman of Murroe Community Council, Fr Simon Sleeman, complimented everyone on their hard work while Phil described the festival as “a massive success”.
“It’s getting bigger and better,” he said.