The traditional pre–Salmon Festival warm-up, the annual Lady of the Moy competition, took place in the Great National Hotel Ballina, on Saturday night past, hosting a night of glitz and glamour that saw local lady, Cara Martin representing Connacht Distillery, claim the crown.

The Lady of the Moy will represent Ballina Salmon Festival during festival week as well as acting as an ambassador for the town throughout the year, including representing Ballina Salmon Festival in the Mayo Rose competition.

Holding the title of Lady of the Moy is regarded as an honour for the winning lady that offers great opportunities for networking, development, as well as many fun, memorable occasions throughout the year.

Sponsored by Allure Hair and Beauty, Dr Lisa Guthrie and Ballina Chamber, this year the competition boasted 12 contestants in total, each representing a local business or group. The contest was judged by Donnacha Roache (Mayo Rose Centre, Rose of Tralee Festival),  Martha Galvin (Allure Hair & Beauty Saloon), and Elaine Armstrong (Spa Manager Ice House).

Master of Ceremonies on the night and local DJ, Paul Bourke ensured the participants enjoyed the on-stage interview keeping the banter and conversation flowing, and guiding the participants through their stint on stage. Most sang, danced, or recited poetry, showing once again the level of talent that exists in Ballina. Each girl also completed an individual interview with the judges.

Winner Cara Martin, who performed a poem given to her by her Leaving Cert English teacher, Mrs Henry is second year student of Business and Event Management in Technological University of the Shannon, is travelling to Valencia, Spain on an Erasmus programme in September, and is a passionate ambassador for her hometown of Ballina while studying in Limerick.

Cara is youth advocate for Epilepsy Ireland, having been diagnosed with the condition during her Leaving Cert year, and has raised thousands for the charity over the previous years, climbing Croke Patrick and organising fund raising events in Ballina and Limerick.

Cara’s family has a strong history of involvement with the festival, and she expressed her delight at being able to take an active role in this year’s celebrations, especially after the absence of the festival during the previous three years.

Said Cara: “I’ll never forget the experience of taking part in this event and the support I received on the night, from my employers and sponsors Connacht Distillery, from the audience and my family especially. I’m blown away by the level of beautiful messages I’ve received since Saturday night.  It means so much to me to be involved given the involvement of my family in the past thirty years and I am so proud to represent my town over the next year.”

Indeed, Cara and Paul joked during her on stage interview that in previous years she understood the amount of background work that’s goes into preparing for the festival, as she had hung flags and dressed up on National Heritage Day. She certainly won’t be hanging flags for this year’s festival.

Event organiser Mary Moyles, manager of The Cot and Cobble: “The Lady of the Moy gives these young women a fantastic opportunity and the confidence they gain from standing up in front of their town is wonderful. They are all so proud to represent their towns and their businesses. In our eyes they are all winners and young women our town can be proud of.”

The Lady of the Moy competition was supported by several local businesses. Allure Hair and Beauty, and Dr Lisa Guthrie were the main sponsors, providing the main prizes, as well as The Cot and Cobble. The event was also supported by hosts, the Great National Hotel, Ballina Chamber of Commerce, Rouses Jewellers, Gerry McGuires, Wards Pharmacy, Ballina Blossoms, Boots, Molloys Pharmacy, Connacht Distillery, The Ice House, Goldtime Jewellery’s, The Post House, Platforms, Mister A, Gerry Kennys Sports, McKanes Pharmacy, Imprint Ballina, Price Busters and Daves Deli.

Thank you to all that attended on the night to support the ladies.  The next Big Salmon Festival Event; Festival Launch Party 25th June in Town Ruane Park from 2.30pm

Ballina Salmon Festival presents The Lady of the Moy competition at the Great National Hotel with competitors. Back row from left, Avril Tolan, Moloney’s Super Valu, Rachel McTigue, The Ballina Manor Hotel, Jessica Butler, Bar Square, Shauna Sweeney, Mount Falcon, Isabella Tierney, Broken Jug, Cara Martin, Connacht Distillery, Keeley Bruce, The Great National Hotel, Lorna Salmon, Centre Stage Academy. Front Row from Left, Danielle Carey Lynam, Beyond Beauty, Caoimhe Reape, Order of Malta, Casey Garrett, The Cot & Cobble & Tania Arshynova, The Great Nation Hotel. Picture: John O’Grady.