Rose of Tralee’s daughter on ‘Britain’s Next Top Model’

Brenda Hyland Beirne was crowned 30 years ago, now daughter Alannah is in spotlight

 

After more than 30 years Brenda Hyland Beirne is still recognised as the trainee garda who was crowned Rose of Tralee.

But now it is her statuesque daughter Alannah Beirne (23) who is set to be a well-known face after beating thousands to be the only Irish contestant in the Britain’s Next Top Model reality TV show this year.

Brenda won the title when she was 21. “I was quite naive at the time but I had a good grounding growing up in Tipperary. I was always on the go. I put my whole heart into it,” she said.

“I’m amazed people still say ‘oh you were the Rose of Tralee’. I’ve really lovely memories of it all. What a lovely thing to have in my life.”

Singer Christy Moore even wrote a song called Me and the Rose after meeting her. A year after winning the Rose of Tralee, Brenda met her husband Gerry, who was also a garda.

Brenda worked as a garda for more than 25 years but took a three-year career break. During those years she worked as an air steward for Royal Jordanian Airline for one year, trained as a beauty therapist and ran her own salon.

“I went for it because life is for living. I really believe you should follow your own dreams. There’s no point looking back and regretting what you didn’t do,” she said.

Long-held ambition

Brenda married Gerry in 1987 and the couple have four children. They live in Eadestown, Co Kildare.

After winning Rose of Tralee, Brenda modelled for at least 10 years but she said the industry had changed.

“For Alannah it’s a different ball game entirely,” she said. “Alannah has been put down before for being too tall, or shoulders too wide, things like that, but she’s persisted and worked hard. Now it’s fashionable to be athletic.

“I would be concerned for her [in the modelling industry] but I think she’s very much matured and is ready for it. She was such an introverted kid. So she has come from there and blossomed into a very confident young lady. I’m very proud of her.”

Both mother and daughter agree they share similar personalities, interests in fashion, art and a “creative eye”.

“Personality wise we’re similar but I would be a little more laid back than my mum,” Alannah said. “Mum has been a role model, somebody that I’ve looked up to a lot.

Alannah has been interested in modelling from a young age and entered the Ford Supermodel search when she was 15.

“I was a finalist. I had no confidence when I was that age. A completely different person to what I am now,” she said. “I wasn’t ready for the industry then because it’s so cut-throat and you really need a thick skin. You need to be able to take rejection.”

Shaking

Alannah went on to do a degree in visual merchandising and display at DIT and graduated last year.

She saw an advert on TV for the Britain’s Next Top Model competition last February and applied. “I was 22 at the time and the age limit is 23 so I thought I’ve got one shot,” she said.

She got a call months later asking her to wait by her phone for the day to hear whether she had been selected. Waiting in her kitchen for the call was a “tense time”, said Alannah, but she had her parents and her brother Tadhg, who plays rugby for the Scarlets in Wales, by her side

“When I heard I’d got through I just stood there in shock shaking. I must have said, ‘I’m shaking’ about 10 times. I didn’t know what to say. It took a long time to sink in,” she said.

Alannah says there was a lot of pressure, especially being recording all the time, but she grabbed every opportunity. “I’m delighted I did it. Such a great platform to push myself and pursue my career.”

“My plan is to get into Sports Illustrated modelling and fitness. That’s my plan but we’ll see where the wind takes me.”

The programme, which will air from March 16th, will show Alannah competing against 11 other aspiring models in weekly challenges to see who is crowned Britain’s Next Top Model.