ON a cloudy day when the rain thankfully held off, a glamorous boutique owner lit up the course when she won the fashion stakes at Killarney Races.
Emer O’Shea-Irwin, looking radiant in a dress finished the previous night with her sister and business partner, Clodagh, scooped the Dawn Dairies Queen of Fashion award on Ladies’ Day.
Admirers described her 1940s style dress as ‘pinkish cream’, but Emer, who is married to former Kerry footballer Billy O’Shea and lives in Killorglin, more precisely said it was blush-coloured.
“I won the fashion competition at the Dublin Horse Show last year, but it’s terrific to win at home. The whole family comes to Killarney Races and we always have a great day out,’ she said.
Her feathered headpiece also helped sway the judges and her prize is a trip for two to New York. Emer and Clodagh run the Envy Boutique, in New Street, Killarney. Runner-up in the competition was Liz Maher, of Bagenalstown, Co Carlow.
Judges were former Miss Ireland Rosanna Davison and TV presenter Daithí Ó Sé, back from the US where he had been making another series of programmes.
Ms Davison said fashion standards had improved at Killarney Races since she previously acted as a judge in 2006 and she was impressed with the creativity and imagination on display.
“There’s plenty of colour here and I was delighted to see so many people wearing hats and dresses they made themselves. We’re in a recession and people should not feel the need to spend a fortune on an outfit,’ she remarked.
Mr Ó Sé, who had barely a grabbed a night’s sleep following his return from the US, also welcomed a return to home dressmaking, saying it was a case of ‘going back to basics.’
The popular west Kerry man had been filming a series for TG4 on life in America, all the way from the Canadian border to Key West, in Florida.
Screening of the ten programmes will start in October.
With a huge array of headgear of every shape and size lighting up the enclosure, there was a special competition for millinery on show and the prize for the best hat went to Carol Kennelly, from Tralee.
Carol, a regular winner at fashion competitions, stood out in a cerise butterfly headpiece and runner-up was Caoimhe Willis, of Killarney. Both women made their own hats, in keeping with the spirit of the occasion.
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