Alison Dyer and Sarah McDonnell, both finalists for Miss Laois 2021. Pics Con Murphy/ Ralph McKeon
Portarlington has a big chance of producing the next Miss Laois, with two of the three finalists from the town.
Alison Dyer and Sarah McDonnell are both hoping they can top the poll and get judges approval to win the title in the virtual event this May.
They are competing with Leaving Cert student Halle Courtney from the Heath who was topping the Miss Ireland App wildcard votes this week. Read about Halle here.
Alison and Sarah told the Leinster Express about themselves.
Sarah, 19, is a chef as well as owning her own beauty business, Luxelure Beauty, which is her sponsor for the competition.
“I entered because of all the amazing opportunities that come with it, such as being able to fundraise for my community and speak up about what I believe in.
“If I were to win, I would be over the moon and continue working hard to hopefully take the Miss Ireland crown home for Laois for the first time! I have been so determined and worked a lot for this and it would be amazing to see it paid off,” she said.
Alison is a qualified general nurse who is now studying for a Masters in Biotechnology, sponsored by Blush Beauty Bar.
"Entering the Miss Ireland competition is equally as scary as it is exciting but who knows what good could come from it. At the very least, I will have a platform which I will put to good use, highlighting important issues like mental health and supporting others. I like to think I’m pretty normal and relatable, maybe entering could inspire others. I always watched America’s next top model growing up and wished I could be involved, so this competition is as close as I can get in lovely Laois. I am excited to see what opportunities I can create for myself from this competition," she said.
Covid-19 restrictions have forced big changes to the Miss Laois pageant, as Alison explained.
“The pandemic and covid restrictions have unfortunately taken their toll on the usual running of the competition, we missed out on having a launch night where all the girls get to meet. We haven’t been able to do the usual photoshoots or fashion shows but we regularly have zoom masterclasses from Makeup artists, hair stylists and catwalk coaches,” she said.
The three also bonded recently to create an activity fundraiser ‘get up 2 move challenge’, inviting people to create a two minute video doing any activity and donate €5 to Pieta House.
The Miss Laois final will be held virtually in May through a Facebook live stream rather than on stage. The three finalists are all asking for your public daily vote on the Miss Ireland app.
The winner of Miss Ireland represents her country at the Miss World with a prize fund of €100,000. won in 2003 by Rosanna Davison. The organisation also holds Mr Ireland which sees the winner represent Ireland at Mr World, a title which Ireland won in 2010 with Kamal Ibrahim.
"The competition is not just based on beauty; there are many other tasks which the winner must compete in to win this crown such as her beauty with a purpose work, interview, fashion, sports, talent and social media skills," the company says.
Since its inception Miss Ireland has also raised hundreds of thousands of euros and awareness for many Irish charities.