Harlie Byrnes
Harlie Byrnes Cathy Adams

Alstonville hoping Irish eyes smile on Harlie

ALSTONVILLE has its own Princess Mary - well, almost.

Nursing student Harlie Byrnes, 27, will represent Australia at Ireland's Rose of Tralee Festival in August.

Harlie has been crowned Queensland's Rose of Tralee and won an all expenses paid trip to Ireland to compete against the world's most beautiful and talented young women with Irish heritage.

Judged on beauty, deportment and personality, the Rose of Tralee finalists become instant celebrities throughout Ireland.

"When I arrive it will be like 'ladies and gentleman, here's Princess Mary'. It's like a royal visit," Harlie said.

"The town of Tralee goes crazy. It's like the final of Australian Idol it's that huge."

Harlie defeated eight other contestants to take her crown on Saturday night in Brisbane after a series of interviews including an on-stage question-and-answer session about her Irish heritage.

She spoke of her ancestors who left Ireland seven generations ago, including bushranger Joe Byrne, a member of the Kelly Gang.

Harlie also wowed the judges with an Irish dance as part of the quest's talent section.

Apart from the trip, she won $2000 which she intends to spend on clothes for the festival.

"You're not allowed to wear the same thing more than once, so I'll be buying a lot of new clothes," she said.

"Which is fine by me, I'm happy to go clothes shopping."

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