This Much I Know: Former Miss Universe Grainne Gallanagh

Former Miss Universe, Grainne Gallanagh: 'My biggest fault is that I’m a complete people pleaser.'
This Much I Know: Former Miss Universe Grainne Gallanagh
Grainne Gallanagh during her time on Dancing with the Stars

My biggest fault is that I’m a complete people pleaser.

I don’t like confrontation and just want people to like me, which is so shallow, I know. And - I’m always late.

Growing up, I went through phases of wanting to be a singer or a dancer but I as could neither sing nor dance I settled on becoming a nurse once I left school in Buncrana.

I was really outgoing and very free spirited. I loved being outdoors. I’m the youngest of five girls and was a bit spoilt. As I got older, I became shyer. I often felt intimidated by other people.

I got into modelling from a young age because I was tall and slim, but it wasn’t for me - I felt like a mannequin - so I got into pageantry instead and was lucky enough to become Miss Universe Ireland.

Pageantry wasn’t what I expected at all. Those who criticise it for objectifying women usually have little knowledge of how it works. My first hand experience is that it enabled me to meet amazing, talented, ambitious, passionate women from all over the world and it helped me learn how to express myself. I’d agree that it does need to be more inclusive, of all physical types of women.

Grainne Gallanagh. Photographer : Fadil Berisha
Grainne Gallanagh. Photographer : Fadil Berisha

My biggest challenge has been having confidence in myself and being able to stand up for myself. Pageantry and being on Dancing with the Stars have both really helped in that regard. They put me outside my comfort zone and although I struggled to learn the steps and was incredibly nervous before each TV show - which never got any easier, I literally felt sick before each programme - I’m so glad I took part in both.

I am returning to nursing to help out during Covid-19, back in Buncrana. The saddest part is when patients can’t have any relatives or visitors to see them, especially when they are in palliative care. I enjoy so many aspects of nursing. It can be a very emotional job, as I tend to love my patients and it’s a great feeling when you can ease someone’s pain. But obviously there are people that you can’t help and that can be hard to deal with.

I exercise regularly by going to the gym or for a run. It really helps my head. I also keep a diary of how I’m feeling, not a traditional type of diary - more a journal of my feelings.

I like routine and feeling like I am in control of everything and am forever making to do lists and ticking things off once they are done.

I like night shifts at work. I try to convince myself that I’m a morning person but I really am not. I hit snooze and then eventually drag myself out of bed - but I do tend to stay up late.

My idea of misery is being around people that I feel don’t care about me. Or people that are cruel or mean. The people I hang around with really impact on me.

The trait I look for in friends is kindness. Being ‘nice’ and kind are underrated. Those things matter to me.

My biggest extravagance is food. I don’t cook! So I mean eating out and ordering takeaways.

I am very lucky to be back living in such a beautiful town as Buncrana. I spend my whole time promoting it and saying ‘when lockdown is over you’ve got to come here’ but I mean it. Whenever I’ve been away, once I reach the road leading to the town and glimpse the water - I feel I’m home. I feel safe again.

The thing that irritates me most about other people is when they belittle or embarrass someone else intentionally, trying to be funny.

Ambition will get you further than talent.

If I could be reborn as someone else for a day I’d be Beyoncé. I want to find out how she manages to achieve so much.

I do believe in an afterlife. Doing so makes me feel better. I was very religious as a child and have maybe lost my faith as I’ve grown older but I do still turn to God in times of need.

I’m a big believer in fate. I met my boyfriend when I was in school in Buncrana. So we’ve been going out for about seven years.

The lesson in life so far really has been that things do happen for a reason. And when I feel down about missing an opportunity I always remind myself that when one door closes, another one will open…

  • Grainne Gallanagh is a model and former Miss Universe Ireland and recently went back to work on the frontline as a nurse in her hometown of Buncrana, Donegal. Follow her on Instagram at @Ggallanagh

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