CHICAGO (STMW) — All things bright and beautiful — and green — showed up for the South Side Irish Queen Contest on Saturday at the Beverly Arts Center on the city’s Far South Side.

The center was both sponsor and host for the inaugural event, which will send the winner to the Chicago Rose of Tralee competition in March.

Mary Kay Gavin-Marmol, director of the Chicago Rose of Tralee, acted as the evening’s emcee. “Our goal here tonight is to pick a South Side Irish Queen,” Gavin-Marmol said.

Katie McKirdie, of Oak Lawn, brought her whole family to see two of her four daughters, Grania, 8, and Nora, 11, compete in the “Wee” category for 5- to 12-year-olds.

“The girls have been involved in Rose of Tralee events before as rosebuds,” McKirdie said. “We wanted to expose them to the older girls.”

McKirdie said the organization helped girls make good choices and do good works.

Sarah McGovern, Katherine Fennessey, Morah McGovern and Morgan Riordan rounded out the field of Wee contestants, who were required to present in costume and dress clothes and to answer questions posed to them by Shaylin McNamara, 2008 Chicago Rose of Tralee.

Grania McKirdie, 8, winner of the Wee category, dressed in Irish garb for the costume category and named “Golden Rose” as her favorite song “because my grandma sang it to me, and I learned it from her.”

Morgan Riordan, dressed in traditional Irish clothing, won for best costume.

Katie Byczek, 22, Mary Kate Monahan, 21, and Amy Carey, 23, all Rose contestants, dressed in evening wear and answered a variety of questions as part of the competition for the top spot of South Side Irish Queen.

The honor went to Frankfort resident Monahan, a blue-eyed redhead who was encouraged by her father to enter the contest.

For the question portion of the competition Monahan said she could best represent the South Side because of the “wonderful family I’ve been raised in.”

Monahan chose her father, Gene, as her role model. Gene Monahan, who grew up on the South Side in a family of nine children, said his daughter’s win was “overwhelming” but something he had wanted her to try for years.

“I named her after Maureen O’Hara’s character in the movie The Quiet Man,” Gene Monahan said. “It was just on a whim that we brought her to this. It’s the first time we’ve got her to enter anything, and she won.”

Mary Kate Monahan will be one of 40 girls to compete for the Chicago Rose of Tralee title in Chicago during the Irish American Heritage Center weekend March 11-12.

The winner of that contest will compete in Ireland in June.

–SouthtownStar, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

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