‘It’s amazing that I’m able to put the Miss Ireland title to such good use’

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Lauren McDonagh’s life may be packed full of exciting photoshoots, interviews and beautiful clothes, but its helping others and making a difference that means the most to her.

The Buncrana woman has been Miss Ireland for the past seven months and she admitted how “it’s crazy how fast it has gone in”.

She regularly travels up and down to Dublin, alongside her job working in makeup store ‘Mac’ in Derry.

But she told the ‘Journal’ how she is loving it all and said she is trying to “really make the most of the year” as Miss Ireland.

While Lauren holds the title for another few months, she has another Inishowen woman vying for her crown. Earlier this month, 16-year-old Maebh Brennan took over the title for a day. The Inishowen beauty had her own photoshoot and received loads of perks, donated by Buncrana businesses.

Lauren said that not only did Maebh have a great time, she did too.

She said: “Maebh’s mother, Joan, works with mine. I knew Maebh had been wanting to meet me. I was thinking about it and had a bit of a brainwave. I said that maybe we could have Maebh do a day in the life of Miss Ireland. And that’s what we did. We both had brilliant craic. Maebh is just amazing.

“The people of Buncrana were so brilliant. It made me emotional. On the day, she got her hair done in Glamour and received a dress from Sequin Cinderella. Della Kelly did her nails and Callaghan’s Jewellers gave her a necklace. We had afternoon tea in the Inishowen Gateway Hotel and they gave us the Bridal Suite so that she could get her photographs done. John Arthur took photographs on the day and they were beautiful. Everything that was given was donated. People were so good.

“That’s the kind of thing I love doing. It costs nothing and you can make someone’s day.”

As well as being able to make people smile, Lauren said another real positive of being Miss Ireland is her charity work, particularly her work as an ambassador for Muscular Dystrophy Ireland.

Lauren’s brother, Darren, died as a result of Muscular Dystrophy in 2008 when she was just eight years old.

She said that even when the days are long and tough, she finds strength in knowing that she is honouring her big brother.

“I’m really honoured to be an ambassador and it’s amazing that I’m able to put the Miss Ireland title to good use. It’s Darren’s 10th anniversary soon and hopefully, I’ll be able to do something to remember him. There have been a lot of things happening over the past seven months, but the work with MD Ireland has been the major thing for me. I want to keep on working with them going forward. There isn’t that much awareness about it, really and that has to change. It’s just about showing what the association does and how it helps in so many different ways. They’re the nicest people to work with too. At the end of the day, when I’m tired and have been really busy, I sit back and think that I’m doing something for my brother.”

Alongside her work with MD Ireland, Lauren told how there is a lot of “travelling and exciting things” coming up in her next few months as Miss Ireland.

She said: “The last six months have been a but of a blur. It really has flown too quickly. It’s been hectic and crazy and full on, but you have to make the most of it.”

Lauren said she “wasn’t expecting anything” when she was crowned Miss Ireland, as she didn’t think she would win.

“I didn’t think ahead to what it would be like. I went from Miss Ireland to the Miss World finals two weeks later. It was unbelievable. I made so many connections and friendships there for life. Miss Iceland was over with me for a visit in April. You don’t realise how big it is until you come back, sit down and think about it. To this day, it seems surreal that I’m Miss Ireland. It’s all still so exciting to me.”

Lauren is now involved in the search for the new Miss Donegal and Miss Derry.

She said: “We’re looking for the right girl to represent her county and hopefully she’ll be the next Miss Ireland.

“It is a big responsibility. You’re representing your county and your country and then, if you’re Miss Ireland, you’re going to Miss World. You have to show the best of your country. Ireland is an amazing place.”