Louth Macra Na Feirme member Dearbhla O’Connor was crowned the 2016 Blue Jean Country Queen in Athboy, Co Meath, at the end of an exciting Macra na Feirme festival weekend.
The 19-year-old Fainebridge Macra member beat off stiff competition from contestants from all over Ireland — and indeed overseas — to take the title at the annual festival last Sunday night.
2nd Maria Blackwell Lim
3rd Sheila ONeill Carbery pic.twitter.com/0QooJj7A0x— Sean Finan (@finan_sean) June 5, 2016
Runner-up was Maria Blackwell from Limerick Macra, and in third place was Shiela O’Neill from Carbery Macra, Cork. Last year’s winner, Susie Manson from Scotland, returned to Athboy to hand over the crown.
The festival, in its 29th year, saw Macra members from all over the country descend on Co Meath in their droves to soak up the atmosphere as well as the glorious sunshine.
The Queens, who all stayed with host families for the duration of the festival, were put through their paces with onstage interviews with master of ceremonies Joe Healy.
Following the interviews, there was dancing in festival venue the Darnley Lodge Hotel with DJ Mark Caffery.
On Saturday afternoon, Athboy sprang into life with a street craft fair and carnival, with the Queens also singing their hearts out in Flood’s Bar for the festival’s annual karaoke competition.
The festival’s main sponsor, Athboy Credit Union, hosted a barbecue, and, after a hugely successful appearance at last year’s festival, The Madisons returned to perform. The lead singer is Athboy native Nigel Connell, who finished third in RTÉ’s The Voice of Ireland.
On Sunday, there was a “Lark in the Park” fun day and during the afternoon on the green, the crowd had the opportunity to see the Queens modelling jeans and an outfit of their choice.
After all that excitement, the Queens, their escorts, and supporters headed to the Darnley Lodge for the festival highlight — the gala banquet.
Just before midnight, the Queens dashed off for a quick change back into their blue jeans and a race down to the festival marquee where Dearbhla was announced as the winner.
The first Blue Jean Country Queen Festival took place in 1987. The idea came from Carnaross man, Patrick Farrelly, who, according to legend, was driving his tractor when he heard the song ‘I’m a Blue Jean Country Queen’ on the radio. The businesses and local community in Athboy work closely with the festival’s committee to ensure its continued success.
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