THE new Miss Universe Ireland - who is a model with the Limerick-based Holman Lee Agency – says she is going to give it her all when she travels to Brazil next September to compete against the most beautiful women in the world for the global title.
Nineteen-year-old Aoife Hannon who is a former student of the University of Limerick will compete for the Miss Universe title in Sao Paulo after taking the coveted Irish title at a glittering ceremony at the Burlington Hotel on Friday night.
Only last month Aoife was crowned Miss SPIN South West at the Limerick Strand Hotel before being signed to the books of the Holman Lee Modelling Agency. According to the GAA fanatic, Friday night’s win was totally unexpected. “Even when I got into the top 10, I couldn’t believe that. I really didn’t expect it,” she smiled.
The Kerry girl was studying Law at the University of Limerick last year but decided the course wasn’t for her. She took a year out to work and had hoped to return to UL to study Sports Science next year. “That was the plan but I might be deferring that now until next year,” she explained.
“Limerick is brilliant. I really want to go back again – I’m really looking forward to it,” she added.
Aoife played football with the UL freshers ladies football team while she studied there and now devotes her time to the Listowel ladies senior team.
Despite her sporty side, she adores fashion.
“Because I play football you wouldn’t really think it but I am very into fashion,” smiled the 5’10” beauty.
And she stole the show on Friday night is a shimmering creation from Limerick boutique, the Ivory Closet.
“They gave me a short dress and a long dress and they also gave me jewellery as well. They have been so good to me and they are so nice in there,” she said.
Aoife’s natural beauty and down-to-earth nature caught the attention of the judging panel which included top Irish models Georgia Salpa, Rosanna Davison and Pippa O’Connor, and photographer Lili Forberg.
In response to suggestions that she bears a resemblance to Pippa Middleton, the younger sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, Aoife said: That’s a nice compliment, cool.”
Among the family members and friends who cheered her on in the audience on Friday night were her boyfriend Jason Browne – who plays football with St Senan’s of Kerry - and her younger sister Orla who is currently sitting the Leaving Cert.
Aoife celebrated her big win on Friday night at a VIP after-party at the trendy Buck’s Townhouse in Dublin. “We went to the after party at Buck Whaleys, my boyfriend and I, just for about half an hour. I got to bed at about half past two. I was wrecked,” she said.
Looking ahead to September 12 when she has the daunting task of taking to the catwalk in Sao Paulo with the most beautiful women in the world in a bid to take the Miss Universe title from reigning Miss Universe 2010, Ximena Navarrete, Aoife said that the nerves haven’t kicked in just yet.
“I’m not nervous so far because I think the help I am going to get in preparing for it really will help me and stand to me. I know it will be a tough couple of months running up to it but I really just want to give it my all.”
According to model agent and Limerick Leader columnist, Celia Holman Lee, who organised the Miss Limerick and Miss SPIN South West pageant in which Aoife qualified, it is “wonderful” that a girl who qualified in Limerick has taken the national title.
As part of her preparation for the Miss Universe Ireland competition, Aoife received mentoring from Celia on how to perfect her natural poise and walk. “We did a class with Celia and I think that really stood to me on the night,” she said.
Aevann Upton, the CEO of the SPIN South West radio station – which is based in Raheen – said Aoife stood out at the Miss Limerick and Miss SPIN South West pageant in Limerick city with “her stunning good looks and amazing personality”.
“Aoife will be a super ambassador for SPIN South West, and the entire country when she travels to Brazil in September and we wish her all the best,” she said.