Glasgow girl Alisha is crowned 50th Mary

Glasgow Mary, Alisha Medford

THERE was golden jubilee joy for this year’s Glasgow Mary, Alisha Medford, as she was crowned the 50th Mary From Dungloe.

The Mary From Dungloe International Festival has been welcoming visitors from all over the world since its inception in 1967. The 10-day festival offers a wide range of entertainment with the selection of the Mary From Dungloe at its heart.
The Irish-born Marys and those of Irish descent along with their families travel to Donegal to participate in the week’s events, with the dream of being crowned the next Mary From Dungloe.

For Alisha (above)—whose late father Adrian came from the area and whose mother Angela was herself a former Glasgow Mary—that dream came true following a glittering crowning cabaret night at Ionad Spoirt na Rosann in Dungloe, which was watched by hundreds in the venue itself and even more who had packed into the nearby Rosses Community School.

After announcing that Alisha had won this year, a Dungloe tradition was continued by local legend Daniel O’Donnell as he serenaded the winner with the famous Mary from Dungloe, with those in attendance at the sold out event joining in enthusiastically. The crowning cabaret capped a particularly memorable 50th anniversary festival and among those joining the 2017 Mary From Dungloe winner on stage was Celine Powell, the first winner. Alisha will now act as an ambassador for the festival in the coming year.

The 20-year-old winner had said in her biography notes that she was honoured to represent her home city of Glasgow, but also spoke of her pride at returning to what is a home from home for her in Dungloe.

“My father was born and brought up in Tuberkeen and the festival has always been attended and enjoyed by myself and all my family and friends throughout the years and I am extremely excited to follow in my mother’s footsteps, as she was once the Glasgow Mary many years ago,” Alisha said. “My earliest memories of the festival is waking up in my Granny Ward’s B&B in Tuberkeen and being in awe of the beautiful Marys from around the world.

“As I heard Daniel say my name and give me the warmest of smiles I thought my heart would burst with pride. The love that surrounded me was magical. The people of Glasgow and Dungloe gave me so much support and I am truly honoured to have been crowned the 50th Mary From Dungloe. I am looking forward to promoting the 51st Mary From Dungloe Festival and helping building a legacy that can be enjoyed for another 50 years.”

Alisha who is currently studying law, devotes much of her free time to volunteering for charities including working with the Irish Heritage Foundation in Glasgow to promote the Irish culture and language and spending periods of time in Malawi, building and renovating classrooms to help children escape poverty through education. An Irish dancer since the age of four, she has competed nationally and internationally at feiseanna and has represented Scotland as part of the Scotland Under-21 netball side.

Her mum, Angela, could hardly contain her excitement as she spoke to The Irish Voice about her daughter’s crowning moment.

“We are over the moon,” Angela said. “It was such a wonderful festival. Daniel was amazing and our friends and family shared a magical week. The organisation of the 50th reunion resulted in a spectacular start to our fun. We laughed and shared a few emotional moments. And now we have our Mary and what a year to have won. Alisha was great; she hasn’t stopped since being crowned. She was booked all day, every day. It was crazy but brilliant. Our Donegal hearts are warm and we are truly grateful for all the support.”

The Glasgow selection committee wished to place on record its gratitude to Malones Bar for being Alisha’s principle sponsor for this year’s festival.