Her father passed away five years ago after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.
And Niamh Kennedy says she felt his presence on stage with her when she was crowned Miss Ireland 2016 at the Crowne Plaza in Santry, Dublin on Friday.
The statuesque beauty paid tribute to her late father Liam, telling the Sunday World:”This win really is for him as well. I really hope I made him proud.
Bittersweet: Miss Ireland 2016 Niamh Kennedy dedicated her win to her late father, Liam, who died five years ago |BRIAN MCEVOY
“I know he was here with me on stage. He is always with me. He got sick when I was five and I did not have him for very long but his presence is still very much here.”
Niamh explained that her father was diagnosed at the age of just 42 and within three years her aunt and uncle also discovered they had the degenerative disease.
“My dad passed away five years ago and he would be so proud,” she said.
Number one: Niamh beat off competition from Aoife McGrane who was named runner up, and second runner-up Leanne Gray
“He was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at 42 years old and my aunt and uncle were diagnosed within three years of him as well.
“If he was here he would have been the first one on stage. I was really close to him.”
Niamh’s proud mother was in the audience to see the Tipperary native crowned Miss Ireland and Niamh admitted she and her mother couldn’t stop bawling after the win.
Hosted by TV3’s Elaine Crowley and Miss Ireland organiser Brendan Scully, Aoife McGrane was named runner up, while Leanne Gray was second runner-up.
Niamh will now head to Washington DC on December 19th to represent Ireland – jetting over on November 27th to prepare for the Miss World competition.