WHEN Miss Ireland, Aoife O’Sullivan, takes to the stage in China in her bid to become the next Miss World, it’s her granny she’ll be thinking of.
The 23-year-old national school teacher from Kilgobbin, Ballinadee was inspired in her choice of career by her grandmother, local teacher Brigid Coughlan.
And Aoife says her lucky mascot will be with her in spirit when she does her best to bring the Miss World title home.
‘She had huge belief in me and was a great encouragement. I brought all the flowers I got after Miss Ireland to her grave and I know she’ll be helping me in China,’ said Aoife.
Describing herself as a very determined person, she says her Miss Ireland win last month, was always part of her ‘plan.’
She finished second runner up (in third place) in the competition in 2015 and decided there and then to get her college degree and come back in the right mind frame to take the title.
‘And I worked really hard to make that happen,’ she admits. ‘I kept diaries where I’d answer typical questions that are asked in the competition and would always watch the competition on line.’
The oldest of three, her brother Tadhg is aged 21 and studying accountancy in UCC; while her sister Shona is in fifth year in Bandon’s Colaiste na Toirbhirte in Bandon where she also attended.
‘There’s six years between us but we don’t feel the age gap; she looks up to me and I call her my “little manager!”’
Mum Liz is an intellectual disability nurse in Cope, Clonakilty and dad Michael is a sales rep for Munster Joinery.
Having taught juniors in the city’s St Marie’s of the Isle, Aoife, who is also a model with the Andrea Roche agency, is now taking some time out before she heads to Sanya, China on November 9th, a full month before the competition final on December 9th.
It will be a busy month with lots of competition challenges which will go towards the final scores.
They’ll include a sports challenge which won’t phase Aoife one bit.
She played underage camogie for Cork and her future looked promising until she damaged her cruciate, for a second time, and was advised to call it a day. Health and fitness are still her main hobbies.
Her family are involved in Courcey Rovers Club and her boyfriend is Cork hurler Colm Spillane.
There’s a talent challenge and while she’s still undecided about the song she’ll sing, she’ll go for something by an Irish artist such as Mary Black.
‘I’m going to work on that as the top 10 scores get to perform live on stage,’ she said displaying her trademark focus.
‘There’s a social media challenge where you’re judged on your videos and how much you post and update; and a dance challenge. I’m taking a crash course in Irish dancing from someone in Dublin to prepare for that.’
The last element to the competition is ‘Beauty with a Purpose’ which sees Aoife supporting mental health group Jigsaw and making a video promoting their work.
‘Before I head off I’m also planning to visit schools in the area to help them set up committees to support young people.’
She is travelling solo to China and is very excited about what lies ahead.
‘Having spent the past three years working towards this it’s a dream come true,’ she said.
As for returning to teaching or not, she’s going to see how things go.
‘I’m taking the whole year off and am going to see how it goes; this is my opportunity and I don’t want to look back and have any regrets.’