When the Miss Ireland crown was placed on Holly Carpenter’s head last August, she thought all her dreams were about to come true. Standing on stage at the Ballsbridge Hotel, bedazzled by the photographers calling her name, Holly imagined that she was about to have the best year of her life.
|Pageant winner: Holly Carpenter made her own video for Miss World|
Soon after winning the coveted title, the granddaughter of gossip columnist Terry Keane was tipped to make it into the top three at the Miss World contest. It seemed that Holly was about to become one of the most famous holders of the Miss Ireland title.
But in an exclusive interview with the Irish Mail On Sunday, the 20-year-old model has admitted for the first time that her Miss Ireland experience was plagued by organisational mishaps, which she believes cost her a top spot at the international beauty pageant.
In the weeks leading up to Miss World 2011, bookmakers around the world were placing Miss Ireland among the top five favourites. But by the end of the competition, she had only reached 42nd place.
Holly said that, in retrospect, she feels let down. A key factor, she says, was the failure to produce a promotional video – this figures heavily in the judging process – or even to explain its importance to her.
‘In Ireland, in the UK and even in Las Vegas the odds were that I would be in the top three. But when I went over to Miss World I learnt that the Beauty With A Purpose video was one of the most important things to have. And that was the thing that I didn’t have.
‘I made one myself in the end, I filmed it just two days before. I was on my own filming it with my camera in my front room. I was just sitting on my couch saying: “Hi, I’m Miss Ireland.” I made a slide show myself, but I didn’t even know how to put music to it, so it was really bad. It was tragic,’ she said.
‘I was told at the end that the video really let me down, that it was meant to be professional. Then I learned that my wardrobe let me down too, which is completely what the Miss Ireland organisers chose. My dress at Miss World was also made by [Miss Ireland organiser] Brendan Scully and I was told that all the judges hated my dress,’ she said.
‘So the night before the final Lara from Lara Boutique came over and gave me a dress instead.
‘At the time I was so upset because I know I could have made it into the top seven if I had those requirements – because my odds were so high.
‘Everything that was up to me I had right, but I felt let down,’ she explained.
Holly claimed that she had multiple problems with the organisers throughout the year. Luckily for the striking brunette, she was signed to Compton Models when she won her crown and was allowed to remain with the agency throughout her reign. Holly said most of the interviews and photo shoots she did were organised through John Compton and herself, not the people behind Miss Ireland.
‘They only got me two jobs throughout my whole reign. Obviously because I won I got more jobs and it got me a big profile. But as organisers they just got me two paid jobs. All the editorial shoots and the interviews, that was all through John and me.
‘I got nearly all of my jobs from just networking. I felt like everything I did was done off my own back, I made sure to speak to the right people and make connections. I got paid for a job I did at The Curragh. I did a shoot for Debenhams, which was in October. They told me that they would pay me eventually – but they only paid me on Thursday. I kept having to ask them,’ she explained.
Holly was also left upset when she was informed in front of a room full of people that her Miss Ireland reign was to be cut by four months, due to the fact that the Miss World organisers had decided to host the international pageant this August instead of the usual month, November. Instead of being told privately by Miss Ireland organisers Brendan Scully and Seán Montague, Holly only found out the news while judging a Miss Ireland heat last January, she said.
‘It was a rumour for a while, no one had said anything to me and I wasn’t sure about it. I was never really properly told. I kept asking the Miss Ireland organisers when the final was going to be on and they kept saying: “I don’t know.”
‘Then I was judging a heat in January, and, when they were asked in front of everyone when the [Irish] finals were, they said April 28. I was a bit annoyed that I was finding out when everyone else was. I wasn’t annoyed that I had lost the four months, what annoyed me was the way I had to find out about it,’ she said.
And as the months went on, Holly felt increasingly disappointed by the Miss Ireland organisers. Despite being invited back to hand over her crown at Miss Ireland last weekend, Holly was not given a complimentary table at the event for her family.
Instead, organisers provided her with just four tickets, and her family had to cough up €780 to watch Holly hand over her title to the new Miss Ireland.
‘It was obvious that I was going to need a full table. It was my last night ever as Miss Ireland for the rest of my life and I only got four tickets,’ she said.
‘We had to pay for six tickets in the end so we had to pay over €700. And luckily I’m from Dublin so we didn’t have to pay any travel costs. The year I won, one of the girls couldn’t even afford to have her family there,’ she said.
But holding the Miss Ireland title wasn’t all bad. Holly admitted that if it wasn’t for Miss Ireland, she never would have met her rugby player boyfriend Cian Healy. Holly has been in a relationship with the Leinster star since before Christmas and it’s clear that she is very much in love. Her smile broadened at the mention of his name and she confessed that meeting Cian was the highlight of her reign.
‘This sounds really cheesy but one of the best things to come out of this year is Cian.
‘If I hadn’t won Miss Ireland I never would have met Cian. I met him at a local protest and I never would have been asked to go to the protest if I wasn’t Miss Ireland.
‘I probably just would have met him in Krystle or something. But when I met him I was just there in jeans, Uggs, a big jacket and I had no makeup on. I love that we met that way,’ she explained.
After eight trying months, Holly no longer holds the title. Hers was the shortest Miss Ireland reign to date – until last weekend, that is, when winner Máire Hughes lost her crown the day after the pageant. Máire was stripped of her title when it emerged that she was ‘too old’ to enter Miss World, as she will be 26 by the time the pageant is hosted in Inner Mongolia. The woman who came second, Rebecca Maguire, has been given the title, but with the glamorous crown comes a lot of controversy.
Máire has acquired legal representation since she was stripped of the crown.
And Rebecca, the new Miss Ireland by default, has also been hitting the headlines. After losing out to Máire last weekend she took to social networking sites Facebook and Twitter, claiming that she was ‘robbed’ and that she didn’t understand why she didn’t win.
Miss Ireland 2010 Emma Waldron slated the comments earlier this week and Holly has also slammed Rebecca’s poor attitude.
‘Rebecca spoke too soon when she lashed out on Twitter about coming second,’ said Holly. ‘It’s so shockingly unheard of for a contestant to actually do that. You can bitch about anyone you want when you are with your friends behind closed doors, but she shouldn’t have said those things in the open. Now people will just perceive her as a mean person. ‘I sent Rebecca a mail after she won. We were roommates at Miss Ireland last year so I felt I should congratulate her.’
It’s clear that Holly feels for Máire, who she described as being ‘dragged’ into controversy. She said she can’t imagine what Máire has been through in the last week.
‘I have been texting her all week. I said: “I hope you’re okay, and I’m so sorry you’ve been dragged into this whole mess. Don’t get disheartened, remember the judges chose you for a reason. You’re gorgeous and you don’t deserve all this.”
‘She thanked me and admitted that it’s been really hard. Her picture was on the front page of every paper, it must have been really difficult for her.’
While Holly leaves her crown behind, she won’t be giving up the catwalk, having just moved to Andrea Roche’s modelling agency, where she is now on the same books as Rosanna Davison and Roz Purcell.
This September she will return to NCAD, where she is studying textiles. Holly is looking forward to studying her craft once again, and has big plans for her fashion and artwork.
‘I have a good idea to do a series of paintings. It’s going to be focused on Irish culture. It’s going to be like Andy Warhol, but kind of grunge pop art,’ she said.
And while most girls her age would be dreading a return to studies, Holly has a constant smile on her face and a look of ambition in her eyes.
‘It does feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders now,’ she smiled. ‘Something has just changed in me and I’m really excited about what’s next.’
When contacted about Holly’s claims, Miss Ireland organiser Seán Montague claimed the Beauty With A Purpose video was the responsibility of the contestant.
‘Beauty With A Purpose is the charitable work that Miss World does throughout the world. This is outlined on the Miss World website. Other areas the finalists compete in are talent, sport, top model and bikini / beach body,’ he said. ‘Holly was guided as to what is expected with the Beauty With A Purpose. However, the content is down to the finalists as it is to highlight their own charitable work.’
He also defended his decision to only give Holly four complimentary tickets to this year’s final, instead of a full table which she had requested: ‘We actually gave Holly four tickets for the final. In previous years the outgoing Miss Ireland was only ever given two tickets. Last year Emma brought her mum, dad and boyfriend. I feel four tickets was more than fair for us to give,’ he added.
The men behind the crown
All week long, confused contestants have been wondering who sets the rules to the Miss Ireland pageant.
The men behind the beauty queen crown are Brendan Scully and Seán Montague, who took over the contest two years ago, Until 2010, businessman Krishna Naidoo was the organiser but he took a ‘step back’ in favour of Messrs Scully and Montague. Before that, they ran the Dublin-based modelling agency BScene.
|Brendan Scully, left, and Seán Montague run Miss Ireland|
The pair decided to close down the modelling side of the agency just two weeks after Holly Carpenter was crowned Miss Ireland, last year. In the same week, they then opened a commercial section in the agency and called for ‘up and coming presenters and artists’ to come in for castings.
But the modelling agency was in fact dissolved earlier that year. Company records show that BScene The Agency was officially dissolved on January 28, 2011, seven months before they announced the closure.
Mr Montague deals more with the business side of their endeavours, while Mr Scully calls himself a ‘choreographer, stylist and fashion show producer’ on his website. He runs the Brendan Scully School Of Dance, with his own dancers providing the main entertainment at Miss Ireland since they took over.
Mr Scully also styles all the photo shoots for the Miss Ireland contest and has styled for Debenhams. Last year, he designed an evening gown for Holly Carpenter to wear at Miss World last year. He has also designed dance costumes under the name of Star Dancewear for the last three years.'
Last October, they registered B-Heard Productions, which deals with ‘the business of entertainment, events and organisational company’.
SOURCE: The Daily Mail, UK, 5/5/2012