Gillian Beasley, competing for Ballinora Guild, won the Cailín contest last Saturday night and now goes forward to represent ICA in the Cork heat of the Rose of Tralee this summer.
“Happy out” is how the 25-year-old youth worker described herself on Monday morning as she contemplated her weekend win. Just a week earlier, she’d got a phone call from Cecily Lyons of Ballinora Guild asking her if she’d like to enter the Cailín contest.
“She asked if I’d do her a favour. I thought it was to do photos for the event — I’ve done photos before for ICA. I kind of laughed first when I heard because this wouldn’t normally be my thing. I’m into the outdoors, going hiking and being up on mountains.”
Cecily gave Gillian a few days to think about it and, after chatting with friends and her mum, Gillian decided to go for it. “Just for the fun of it — I never thought I’d win.”
Competing against seven other cailíní — representing Ballinspittle, Drimoleague, Dunderrow, Goleen, Grenagh, Shanagarry and Midleton Guilds — Gillian’s party piece was Sharon Shannon’s ‘The Blackbird’, which she played on concertina. As a scout leader in Ballinora, she regularly takes youngsters up the mountains and she told the gathering about this on Saturday.
Gillian has strong ICA links — her mum, Mary, is a former Ballinora ICA member and was at various times the guild’s president, secretary and treasurer. “As a child, if there was no childminder at home, I was pulled along to craft nights and dance evenings. Ballinora ICA holds an annual fashion show, a fundraiser for charity, and I modelled in it when I was about 10 and again at 16.”
She might well become an ICA member some day (“I’m sure they’ll rope me in at some stage”) but for now Gillian is just delighted to be representing Ballinora and Cork ICA in the Rose of Tralee. Compère for Saturday’s event, held in Oriel House, Ballincollig, was retired schoolteacher Gerry Kelly. Music was by Douglas ICA Choir and by Pat Fitzgerald.
Ena Howell, who spearheaded the Cailín contest idea, now in its second year, says Gillian will “be a great ambassador for ICA”.