Their faces have been seen by thousands of people around the world, and their smiles greet tourists as they arrive at Dublin Airport from international destinations.
However, the four young women who feature in the bigger than life-size adverts in the Dublin Airport terminals promoting The Gathering Ireland have criticised the use of the photograph without being told about it.
“The photograph was first used in a magazine supplement published with The Irish Times and then it was at the luggage carousel at Dublin Airport and now it’s on the back of buses,” said Charlene Carbery, 30, from Collon, Co Louth.
The photograph was taken during last year’s Carlingford Oyster Pearl Festival which the women attended.
For the competition, they agreed to publicity photographs, but Charlene said she believed this was only for publicity related to the Carlingford-based festival and not for other national events.
“I thought the shots were for the local press and definitely didn’t think they were for a big marketing campaign. I got some shock to see them at Terminal 1 when I went to get a flight to London.
“I didn’t get an invitation to any event, no recognition from Fáilte Ireland or The Gathering and I think it’s really bad form, especially when we want people to come to Ireland and have a positive experience. It has left a really bad taste in my mouth.”
Fellow contestant Niamh Kearney, 19, said it “would have been nice to have been told about it being used beforehand but I like what it represents”.
Helena Mullins, 23, felt Carlingford village should have been mentioned while the fourth contestant, who did not want her name published, said she would have liked the opportunity to see if she liked the photograph before it was selected.
Charlene is also disappointed that the posters don’t refer in any way to Carlingford or the Cooley Peninsula and what it has to offer visitors.
A spokeswoman for The Gathering Ireland said the photograph was used as “it represented both the people of Ireland and the fun, festival atmosphere that The Gathering Ireland aspires to create throughout 2013”.
The spokeswoman added: “We are sorry to learn of some of the participants’ unhappiness at the use of the images. As such, whilst The Gathering Ireland had been given permission to use the images, they will not be used on any future materials that may be produced.”
A spokeswoman for the Carlingford Oyster festival said all participants in the pearl competition were told the images could be used for publicity reasons and they consented to this.
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