'I feel it’s time for a change.'
Kerrykeel woman Dearbhla Walsh has gained a new platform to inspire after being selected as a Top 30 finalist in Miss Universe Ireland 2019.
As the only Donegal representative in the contest this year, Dearbhla is hoping to follow in the footsteps of reigning queen Grainne Gallanagh from Buncrana.
But Dearbhla isn’t usually one to follow trends or paths, as she proves in her work as a Quantity Surveyor.
With a BSc Hons degree in Quantity Surveying, Dearbhla shows that you can be a ‘girly girl’ and succeed in the male-dominated construction industry.
In the lead up to the Miss Universe Ireland final on August 1st, Dearbhla has set out to share an insight into her work and hopefully empower more women to enter the construction sector.
“It’s an amazing job and no day is the same. You don’t know what type of building you’re going to get. I love the diversity, you learn so much every single day,” Dearbhla said.
Dearbhla has been working in London for the past two years and is currently studying for her chartership.
“Essentially, being a quantity surveyor means you are an accountant in the construction world,” she explains.
“Guidance counselling might be different now, but when I was at school we were never encouraged to go into construction.
“For me, I am feminine and a girly girl. But there’s no heavy lifting or physical work. I’m a professional, I’m in my office, I’m dealing with all the costs and projects. Once a month I’m out assessing the site.
“Many females are put off thinking it’s manual labour, but that’s not the case. I feel it’s time for a change.”
With blonde hair and blue eyes, Dearbhla describes herself as ‘like legally blonde, but more like construction blonde!’
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The ambitious career woman has used a pageant platform to voice her opinions before. She travelled to Austria as Miss Earth Northern Ireland in 2015 and was crowned Miss Derry in 2014, as her mum Siobhán is from the county.
This time, she is looking forward to wearing the Miss Donegal sash in the Miss Universe Ireland final.
“I’m so proud to be representing Donegal. It’s my home and I try to come back as much as I can because I am really close with my family,” she said.
Applying for MUI, Dearbhla said, enables her to share her passion for being a female Quantity Surveyor. She is also promoting a unique initiative she is developing through work.
“I am part of a team working on an initiative for supporting a tutoring programme to help underprivileged children improve their mathematical ability in the boroughs of London.
“We hope to help children with mathematics and hopefully from a young age, we are opening up their eyes to that world,” she said.
Dearbhla has also adopted a social cause as part of her campaign and plans to organise a charity run in aid of the ISPCC.
Dearbhla is a strong example of how beauty pageant contestants cannot be taken at face value.
She said: “Pageants are an awful lot more than beauty. A lot of people look dimly upon it, especially males, who look at it in that light. Miss Universe Ireland is about empowering females. It’s about giving women a voice and letting them know they have a network of people around that will support them.
“It also builds your confidence. The fact that I am getting on a stage in front of hundreds of people helps me build my confidence for presentations at work. It’s an all round good experience.”
Dearbhla will have a big support team of family and friends cheering her on in Dublin’s Mansion House for the final on August 1st. Many more fans will be watching from home to see who will gain Grainne Gallanagh’s crown and the honour of representing Ireland on the Miss Universe stage.
Good luck Dearbhla!