By Olivia Tracey
Despite Galway’s recent forfeiture of a possible All-Ireland title, this past year the city has been on somewhat of a winning streak, with tiaras and trophies as much part of the landscape as its signature stone walls. Between the Galway Rose of Tralee, last year’s All-Ireland finals and our outgoing Miss Ireland, Galwegian Vivienne Doyle of Ballybane, the western coast has had much to celebrate. I met with the butter blonde Vivienne in the Shelbourne’s Tea Room, where we two girls bonded, simply by virtue of the fact that we both belong to a lineage of beauty queens.
Mind you, I was lucky to catch the high-flying lass just before she boarded yet another plane, this time bound for New York. An Aer Lingus hostess by profession and a Miss Ireland by merit, the 5-foot-8 22-year-old has acquired a new skill in time management and job juggling. Between radio and press interviews, receptions, exhibitions, fashion shows and photo shoots, she is especially grateful for her facilitating and flexible Aer Lingus boss. Her reign has brought her to the exotic Seychelles and Trinidad and Tobago for the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants, respectively, as well as placing her in the spotlight on countless television shows in Ireland, including "Potluck," "Racing Green Ireland," "The Pat Kenny Show" and a half-hour documentary "A Day in the Life of Miss Ireland," the latter project winning her another offer on TV3’s "Daytrippers." She tells me that the highlight of her year was the opportunity to present the mega-rated "Big Breakfast Show" on Channel 4 alongside British personality Johney Vaughan, as well as a St. Patrick’s Day trip to Chicago courtesy of The Irish Dairy Board to launch the new Dubliner cheese.
Now that her reign is just coming to a close, she admits to having a heavy bout of the TV bug, and hopes to steer her career in the on-camera hostess direction while continuing part-time with Aer Lingus. Of course, this is only part of the picture, as she has been on a break from Letterkenny’s RTC, where she already completed two years of law and one year of computer studies, with her long-term goal being to specialize in international trade legal studies. Yes, dare I say, yet another beauty queen with a brain.
"Gone are the days of the bimbos," she enthused as she highlighted the fact that the vast majority of both the Miss Ireland and Rose contestants are university students and graduates, the Rose title-holder and biochemistry student Luzveminda O’Sullivan being a prime example. We debated this worn-out cliche of so-called beauty queen bimbodom and we came to the conclusion that it was born of a pre-feminist era when models and movie stars were considered no more than decoration, and when women in general graduated from school and clerical positions to housewifery and motherhood, regardless of their IQ. Now women have choices. Some still opt for the latter path, while others venture into academia, with models becoming corporations, and movie stars conglomerate production companies. Why should beauty and brains be mutually exclusive? Could it be the ultimate revenge of the plains against the pretties, the need to satisfy themselves that the ‘sthetically blessed cannot possibly have it all? Finally, Vivienne and I came to the conclusion that the problem stems from rash judgment of how things seem rather than how they are, with people locked into their narrow minds like a prisoner in Mountjoy.
We girls could have discussed this issue incessantly, but Miss Vivienne is very busy altogether. Mind you, it appears she works well under pressure, if her Miss Ireland entry is anything to go by. Put forward by her friends, twins Elaine and Claire, she found herself in Galway’s Bogarts Nightclub being crowned Miss Galway with only three weeks to prepare for the final contest in Dublin. After numerous transAtlantic flights to Chicago, Boston and New York, she arrived back at Shannon on the Sunday morning before Tuesday’s Miss Ireland finals, exhausted after a sleepless Saturday night. However, she immediately packed yet another bag for her two-day trip to Dublin before rushing off for the second and final fitting of "The Dress" with Limerick designer Alison Cowpar Boylan. It was a backless, ivory-motiffed number that, miraculously, was ready by 8 p.m. Next port of call was her home in Ennis for an early night before her dawn departure to Dublin. Thankfully, she was well on time, sparing her the fate of fellow contestant and subsequently disqualified contestant Jennifer Langan. But, alas, that’s another story.
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Her blue-green eyes sparkling, she recalled her victorious crowning moment, and her mother Marguerite’s excited reaction compared to Dad’s (Edward) shocked inertia. Being very family oriented, she bemoaned the absence of her one and only brother, Robin, 24, because of his commitments to the Galway Senior Football team, for which he played in the 1998 victorious All-Ireland finals. When not on a shopping trip to New York with mom, she enjoys a game of tennis followed by a few glasses of wine with friends.
However, at this point she is sipping Perrier, a perfectly slender yet shapely size 8, clad in trendy cling-fit hipsters and cream jacket, her cascading golden tresses lending her a Goldilocks/Daryl Hannah blend. She looks very fetching indeed and is no doubt the subject of much male admiration. Well, messieurs, take it from me, a more disarming and delightful beauty you could not meet. But, alas, she’s not available. The object of her affections is her namesake and college sweetheart, John Doyle.
"Believe me, he’s no relation" she assures me, adding, "I’ve checked it out."
Though close in heart, the five-year couple are not so close geographically, as business-major John has chosen to pursue a music career in Manhattan under the stage name of AMO, with his first CD due for release later this season. Mind you, with Vivienne’s air hostessing, she gets to see her honey every couple of weeks, jumping the five-hour transAtlantic trip as though it were the Dublin-to-Galway bus. Thank God yet again for Aer Lingus, keeping the fires of love alive and well for Mr. Doyle and his Miss Ireland.