Her year as International Miss Macra 2018 was “a pleasure and a privilege” for Josephine O’Neill.
An active member of Callan Macra na Feirme in Co Kilkenny, Josephine said she cannot believe it is time to hand back her title, at the 2019 contest this weekend.
She said winning International Miss Macra 2018 boosted her confidence.
“[When] I entered the competition last year, I was county chair of Kilkenny Macra at the time, and I didn’t really want to be encouraging other people to take part in something, when the thought of standing up on a stage and talking about myself was something that really daunted me.
“I do public speaking and debating with Macra, but it’s a very different story when you are talking about yourself, rather than when you are talking about a different topic, so standing up on that stage was something that I was really nervous about,” she said.
Throughout the year, in her role as International Miss Macra, Josephine has organised numerous events.
In April, she and her aunt, who works for the Irish Blood Transfusion Service, organised a Macra blood donation drive.
Josephine explained that there was a blood clinic in Kilkenny, and they picked one night as a Macra night.
She also organised a fundraising walk from Kilkenny City to Bennettsbridge along the river Nore, which raised €1,200 for Home Care Team, a charity that provides palliative care services for people with cancer in Cos Carlow and Kilkenny.
Along with the Miss Macra weekend itself, these have been highlights of her year.
“The weekend itself, with my club and county, and some of my little cousins came the Saturday night, so that was a really special weekend.
“The blood drive was something that I wanted to do for a long time.
“We had 15 donors that night, it was a great success.
“It has been a really special year with some really nice memories,” she said.
Josephine advises the winner of International Miss Macra 2019 to enjoy every minute of it, especially the weekend itself, and not to put too much pressure on yourself.
“I suppose, at times, I would have been kind of worried that I might not have been doing enough to represent the festival and myself, but there was absolutely no pressure from anybody else.
“Make it your own, do what you feel like, and don’t feel that you should be doing more than you are at any time, make it your own, and enjoy every minute of it,” she advised.