17 Aug 2022

GALLERY: Kildare Derby Queen 2019 at Studio One, Kildare Town

GALLERY: Kildare Derby Queen 2019 at Studio One, Kildare Town

Photos by Aishling Conway

Endearing, unspoilt, totally natural best describes the interview of young Therese Sweeney on stage earlier Friday night in Studio One at the Silken Thomas.

It was the final of the Derby Festival Queen 2019 with 14 young women on stage, each one equally stunning and talented. The judges Guest Celebrity, Jenny Dixon (aka Kerrieanne in Fair City); Rose B O'Donoghue (Editor, Kildare Post); Dympna Murphy (KFM); Sarah Peppard (Leinster Leader); Aine Mangan (CEO intoKildare) and Liam O'Keefe (Scrutineer) had our work cut out.

Truly there was not a girl on stage who couldn't have been crowned Derby Queen - such was the high standard this year. The judges' task was made easier by the excellent interviewing skills of Susan Keogh of Newstalk and formerly KFM. Clearly, having met the girls recently at the National Stud, Susan had 'sussed' out their strengths and successes, their fears and aspirations.

Interviews were fluid and Susan gleaned information relative to each girl, making the night run to plan. What made the 18 year old stand out for all the judges?

Therese was un-affected, so down to earth and unspoilt, we loved her!

Representing Ironhills Equestrian, a love of all things equestrian is in her DNA, having acquired a love or horse riding through an uncle. A stable hand with Ironhill, she is used to bringing in and out ponies, often sitting in on lessons, mucking out horses - the lack of glamour in the job is no deterrent to this horse loving girl! Having completed her Level 5 Equine Studies (and did well), she hopes to do her BC exams next.

She had us in stitches when she spoke of a horse unfortunately named 'Joy'. At 15' 3", a fine animal, but Joy is blind in one eye. Perhaps not the best horse to ride in hunter trials when you jump a fence and turn into a bend with a tree to your right..... And sure enough, poor Joy didn't see the tree on her blind side, and ran straight into it, resulting in Therese having mild concussion and minor injuries!

Since she was in fourth to fifth class, Therese experienced chronic bouts of anxiety. Crediting a sympathetic Principal and Vice Principal, she stated she did her best to overcome the anxiety which often meant she wouldn't or couldn't go out socially in her teens, and indeed, didn't even want to go to school. 

She googled articles on stress, and felt her horse riding helped and now, she claims she has the condition under control.

"Being up here is a big deal for me" she told Susan "I still feel nervous but the anxiety I feel I have under control". 

Her interview was endearing and touched a nerve with so many in the audience, amongst them her proud parents, two grannies and one granddad, siblings, aunties and extended family!

The criteria for the judges was to select a girl who was both representative of Co Kildare, and who would best represent Kildare as Derby Festival Queen and into the Kildare Rose trials in 2021. 

They don't come more Kildare than a lassie mad into horses and not afraid of hard work and mucking out! 

"But I love fashion and make up too!" she quipped.

Therese Sweeney, Derby Festival Queen. Good on you girl!

Special mention again to Celebrity Judge, Jenny Dixon who put the girls at ease - and indeed, the judges also. Susan Keogh again, was super impressive and seemed to have established a rapport with each and every one of the girls.

Finally, well done to the Festival Committee, staff and management at Studio One, the Silken Thomas, another excellent event.

See more photos in next week's Kildare Post

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