Nollaig on cloud nine after Listowel victory

Champagne was flowing and there were pints on the house in a Kerry pub last night to celebrate a stylish off-course victory at Listowel Races.

Nollaig on cloud nine after Listowel victory

A delighted Nollaig McCarthy-McEnery won the best dressed lady title, but was soon back behind the counter in her family’s bar, McCarthy’s, in Finuge, outside Listowel.

The mother of two, who works as a Shannon-based Aer Lingus air hostess, helps out in the pub and it was her turn last night.

Nollaig stood out in a raspberry Heidi Higgins coat, purchased in the January sales at the Kerry Boutique, Killarney; a Don O’Neill black lace dress; a hat by Listowel milliner Aoife Hannon, which picked up the lace; and Michael Kors shoes.

Her all-designer outfit cost just €500, she said.

“I’m in total shock,” she said. “This is my favourite day of the year. It’s all about meeting friends and having a good day out.”

Nollaig’s first prize was a €2,000 voucher for the Chic Boutique, Listowel, and she also got €500 cash and a limited edition print by artist Olive Stack.

Runners-up were: Suzanne Hennessy, also from Finuge, and Aine McMahon, Listowel.

Competition judges were TV star Dáithí Ó Sé and long-time Limerick fashion icon Celia Holman Lee, who said the style was among the best she had seen this year.

“Standards were fantastic and it was the first chance we got to see the autumn-winter offerings — beautiful coats and gorgeous hats,” she said. “This is a season of tremendous colour. We had so much variety and different styles. It really was hard to a pick a winner and Dáithí and I had a few arguments during the day.”

At times, the ever-smiling Dáithí appeared to be a bigger attraction than the fashionistas. It seemed every woman in the packed enclosure wanted to be photographed with him and he was also busy signing autographs.

He has lots of other big events in the pipeline, not least the birth of his first child. His wife, Rita, is expecting a baby in March.

“I’m very excited about being a father. After the recent lows [the death of his father, Maidhc Dainín Ó Sé], this lifts the spirits again and there’s some light at the end of tunnel. It’s really great news,’’ he said.

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