Karen Elliffe was crowned Queen of the Land at a gala ceremony last Sunday night in Tullamore, Co Offaly.
Karen, from Ballinagore, Westmeath, wowed the adjudicating panel at the 52nd annual festival, which this year included 2015 Queen Christine Buckley, WR Shaw representative Billy Shaw, and Queen of the Land 1989, Anna-Marie McHugh of the National Ploughing Association.
Karen, a farmer, competed against 31 other contestants, including Avondhu’s Breda O’Keeffe, Muskerry Queen Edel O’Connell, Imokilly Queen Nora Walsh, Seandún Queen Eillish O’Callaghan, and Carbery Queen Aoife Healy.
Also lining out for Munster at the event was Kerry Queen Louise Flynn, Waterford Queen Clodagh Hickey, South Tipperary Queen Laurena Duggan, North Tipperary Queen Eimear Meagher, and Limerick Queen Ciara Ryan.
Aoife Dooner from Kildare took first runner-up and Hannah Barton from England took second runner-up.
Contestants were judged on a range of attributes including appearance, dress sense, rural knowledge, and elocution.
The 2016 Queen paid tribute to her family and fellow contestants who had made it the “most memorable weekend ever”, and especially thanked the Queen of the Land committee for making each one of the Queens feel special.
Karen was crowned with the official Linda O’Brien tiara, a specially commissioned piece of Galway Crystal from Cahill Jewellers, €1,000 sponsored by WR Shaw, a two-night break in the Bridge House Hotel, and a €200 clothing voucher from Kode Clothing.
Chris Manley was selected by the Queens as best escort and received a €200 voucher for Guy Clothing and a weekend break in the Central Hotel. Aoife and Hannah also received prizes.
Macra members from across the country travelled to the Faithful County for the three-day festival, which included performances by Ultrabeat, The Greatest Day, Joe Wynne, Legacy, and Secrets.
Queen of the Land was initiated by the Irish Farmers Journal in 1964 and taken over by Offaly Macra three years later.
Proceedings kicked off on the Friday morning, when the Queens visited Clonmacnoise and the Tullamore Dew factory. On the Saturday morning, the Queens were interviewed by the judging panel before being put through their paces on stage by MC Frank Forde, comedian and impersonator.
Gerard Mahon, chairperson of the committee, paid tribute to the 32 girls who took part and said: “The committee is very much looking forward to working with Karen during the year. She will make an excellent Queen of the Land.”
He added: “We have had another successful Queen of the Land festival, thanks in no small part to our main sponsors WR Shaw, the associate sponsors, committee, and the many supporters that came from all over the country and beyond to Tullamore for the weekend.”
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