RIVALRY is hotting up among 10 local women as they prepare to make a successful bid for the coveted new crown of East Clare Farmerette Queen next March.
The line-up for the contest has been completed following the addition of another two contestants to the initial group. They include Tulla duo, Angela Lynch and Katie McInerney; Muirne Donnellan, Feakle; Aileen Thornton, Scariff; Clare Jones, O’Callaghan’s Mills; Aisling Callinan, Crusheen; Orla Burke, Whitegate, Martina Skehan, Kilkishen, Ellen Collins, Ogonnelloe and Cassandra McKenna, Bodyke.
People from all over East Clare will flock with a great sense of anticipation to the Powerhouse Bar, Tulla on March 15, for what promises to be a great night of entertainment.
The contestants have already started fundraising ahead of the event, which has been organised to help defray the cost of upgrading the Oak Ward at the National Children’s Hospital, Tallaght.
This is a 24-bed ward catering for children with acute medical conditions, including respiratory, asthma, endocrinology, diabetes, neurology, cystic fibrosis and mental health issues.
Martina Skehan is based in Ealing in West London. Having started a three-year course to become a registered general nurse in February 2011, Martina hopes to complete this in February.
A former pupil of St Joseph’s Secondary School, Tulla, her father, Ger is a well-known beef farmer in Kilkishen. She managed to get back for the All-Ireland senior hurling finals, the drawn game and replay, and was thrilled to see O’Callaghan’s Mills clubman, Pat Donnellan lift the Liam McCarthy Cup.
“There aren’t many green fields in Ealing, which is completely different to the rural countryside in Kilkishen. There is one farm near Ruislip, where GAA matches are staged,” she said.
Clare Jones, from O’Callaghan’s Mills, works as a teacher in Tuamgraney National School. She has persuaded four local men to shave their legs and chest at a fundraising event in the Mills Tavern on February 8 at 9pm. With traditional music and other entertainment, she is promising a great night out for locals.
Cassandra McKenna represented the Cobblers Rest in Bodyke for the Queen of the Waterways competition during the Scariff Harbour Festival last August. She is studying home economics and Irish in Sligo, as part of her training to become a secondary-school teacher.
A number of the contestants have strong GAA connections and some of them are members of their local Gaelic football and camogie sides.
Aileen Thornton and Ellen Collins were members of the Scariff/Ogonnelloe team that was beaten by Myshall from Carlow in the All-Ireland Junior camogie final last year.
Ellen is a second year UCD student, who is studying German and modern languages. Two years ago, she participated in the Queen of the Waterways competition during the Scariff Harbour Festival.
Muirne Donnellan is a daughter of former Clare hurler, Val Donnellan, while Angela Lynch’s brother, Brian, was a Tulla and Clare panellist.
Scariff Community College Leaving Certificate pupil, Orla Burke is a daughter of Councillor Pat Burke from Whitegate. She plays camogie with Whitegate and starred in their minor B county championship win earlier this year. She worked as a receptionist in the Lakeside Caravan and Camping Park in Mountshannon for the last two summers.
Katie McInerney, who is a sister of All-Ireland senior and U-21 winning defender David, plays camogie with Tulla. A passionate Clare hurling supporter, she took great pride in the success of Clare teams and particularly her brother this year.
Aisling Callinan plays Gaelic football and hurling with Crusheen and was a member of the junior football side that captured a county championship title in 2010.
Having qualified with a degree in social care, she works as a support worker for the Brothers of Charity in Ennis.
The Farmerette event is the brainchild of Tulla farmer Mathew Corry, who has helped to raise more than €36,000 for Tallaght Hospital over the last few years.
The competition follows the staging of the East Clare Sexiest Farmer 2012, which raised €14,375 in aid of The National Children’s Hospital, Tallaght. This funding went towards the purchase of an EMG machine for use in the hospital’s Paediatric Clinical Neurophysiology Services.
This machine facilitates the evaluation of children with weakness, motor delay, sensory and balance disturbances, as well as pain disorders.
Each of the competitors will have to raise at least €300 and they will be busy collecting money over the coming weeks.
Regardless of how much money each contestant raises for the hospital, two high-profile interviewers will choose the winner, who will scoop the much sought after sash, crown and bragging rights over neighbouring and rival parishes.
Candidates may be asked to outline their farming credentials and knowledge of important issues, such as the size of land holdings, road frontage and other agricultural matters on the night.