‘It’s been an unusual start to the year’ – How the pandemic inspired Clare doctor Ivanna McMahon to choose Miss Ireland

What a difference a year makes for Ivanna McMahon who began battling Covid in 2022 and will end it battling for the Miss World crown.

University doctor Ivanna was crowned Miss Ireland in a glittering finale at the Royal Theater in Mayo in August.

Now the Clare woman is hoping to follow in Rosanna Davison’s footsteps when she represents Ireland on the world stage in December.

“Everyone who goes there would like to win,” says the 27-year-old, who succeeds the doctor Pamela Uba in this role.

“I would absolutely hope to do well. But most importantly, I really hope I make Ireland proud because I’m so incredibly grateful to have been selected.

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Ivanna will fly the flag for Ireland at Miss World

“Miss World will take place towards the end of the year, but we don’t have a date or location for it yet. Last year it was Puerto Rico – it’s usually sunny so fingers crossed it will be in a similar location!

“I’m really, really excited,” she beams. “After I won, I was actually inundated with messages from all the other contestants.

“So many of the other women representing their countries have written to me saying they can’t wait to meet me, which has been really nice. It’s still a bit surreal.”

Ennis native Ivanna was thrown in at the deep end when she graduated from medical school in 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

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And the UCC graduate reveals how it was life on the front lines that ironically taught her to embrace the glamorous opportunity with both hands.

“Actually, we graduated six weeks early,” she recalls the baptism of fire. “They brought up our exams, so we went straight into it [work].

“It was a bit daunting at the time. But I got through it and so did everyone else.

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Ivanna relaxes after winning the crown

“I’ve been really lucky, I’ve gotten a great job in the Neurology Department at Cork University Hospital and everyone has been so helpful, so kind and really supportive.

“They knew it was something very different for us and we started earlier than usual but everyone was really supportive.

“Then I completed my first year in the General Practitioner program down at Kerry University Hospital.

“I worked over Christmas last year and on January 1 of this year I tested positive for Covid,” she recalls. “It was my first time [getting it]but I wasn’t very sick, thank God, only very mild symptoms.

“It was an unusual start to the year.”

Now, in a year to make the most of her reign, Dr. Ivanna had never entered a beauty pageant before when she decided to go for the coveted title famously held by Michelle Rocca (1980), Andrea Roche (1997). and Holly Carpenter (2011).

“Growing up, I would have always been very interested in fashion and beauty, but I don’t think I would have championed it,” she says.

“I would have followed the competition online and on Instagram for years before entering this year.

“I suppose when I was younger I was maybe a little bit more reserved, a little bit more shy. Being a bit older, a bit more mature in myself, I definitely think this is the right year for it.

“Working for the two years during Covid has really made me realize the importance of taking every opportunity to make the most of life – taking the opportunity when you can, because there might be a time where we won’t be able to take advantage of the opportunity.”

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Ivanna beat 36 other candidates to be crowned Miss Ireland

The traditional musician Ivanna delighted the jury with her playing cosmic love by Florence and the Machine on harp in the final of the competition.

And the talented performer – who also plays six other instruments including the harmonica, fiddle and tin whistle – insists there’s a lot more to the glamorous competition than meets the eye.

“It takes a lot,” explains Ivanna, who has toured Austria and Germany as part of the National Irish Harp Orchestra. “There can be a bit of a misunderstanding about that.

“There were 37 participants in total; We all had to compete head-to-head, so that would have been public speaking, discussing our chosen charities for the year, women in business and [other] current issues.

“We would also have attended a sports day and then had a talent department and the amount of talent was amazing. We had other musicians, we had singers, we had motivational public speaking, show jumping.

“It was the harp that I played at Miss Ireland and I would like to play it at Miss World. It’s such a beautiful instrument, it’s the national symbol of Ireland and I think it would be absolutely beautiful to bring it to a world stage too.”

And fluent Irish-speaking Ivanna has another trick up her sleeve as she attempts to succeed current Miss World Karolina Bielawska of Poland in the 71st appearance of the competition later this year.

“I went to the Gaelcholáiste at Chláir, the Irish secondary school here in Ennis,” she continues.

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Ivanna with Miss Ireland 2021 and pal Pamela Uba

“I think it’s really, really important to keep up the practice in Irish, to keep speaking it and bringing more [awareness] all over the world because it’s such a beautiful language. It would be a shame if it died out.

“We should be incredibly proud of our Irish traditions – of our heritage and of our language – and I would definitely like to bring that to Miss World.”

Founded in 1947, Miss Ireland has raised over €351,220 in recent years for many good causes including children’s charity Variety.

Model and scientist Pamela Uba made history last year when she became the first Black Miss Ireland.

And heir Ivanna, whose charity of choice is the Irish Red Cross, praised the Mayo woman for passing on more than just the glittering crown.

“I definitely have big shoes to fill,” she smiles. “She is absolutely amazing, a true inspiration – she did so many amazing things when she was Miss Ireland.

“The two of us would have had some events together which was great to have her there. She was really helpful to me, giving me tips and advice for the year, for Miss World.

“All the previous Miss Irelands have all been really, really supportive.”

Changes at Miss World in recent years include the abolition of the controversial bikini round in 2014. However, contestants between the ages of 18 and 27 must still be unmarried and childless.

While she acknowledges that not everyone will be a fan of the long-running event, back home in Ennis, Ivanna says there has been only good vibes.

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Junior Doctor Ivanna was crowned Miss Ireland in a glittering finale at the Royal Theater in Mayo

“It was absolutely wonderful – so many of my neighbors came to see me. People I haven’t seen in a while called to say hello.

“I think anyone who is in the spotlight in any way can have both negative and positive comments. It’s sad to see that people can have these negative things [to say] about people – that’s not fair.

“My personal feeling about this is definitely to focus on the positive. Typically, 95 percent of the things people say are positive, and I absolutely tend to focus on that positivity rather than focus on the negative.

“I think Miss World has a lot of really good, positive sides. I definitely plan on getting into it.”

PHOTOGRAPHY: MARK CONDREN
FASHION: AOIFEMCNAMARA.COM AND SIMPLYDIVINELTD.COM
HAIR: JENNY RUSSELL FOR GOLD FEVER
FORM: DEBBIE O’SULLIVAN @ITSACTUALLYDEBBIE
STYLING: BRENDAN MARC SCULLY WITH SARA HOGAN
POSITION: 37 DAWSON STREET, DUBLIN 2nd

https://www.independent.ie/style/celebrity/celebrity-features/it-was-an-unusual-start-to-the-year-how-pandemic-inspired-clare-doctor-ivanna-mcmahon-to-go-for-miss-ireland-42039737.html ‘It’s been an unusual start to the year’ – How the pandemic inspired Clare doctor Ivanna McMahon to choose Miss Ireland

Fry Electronics Team

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