Samantha follows her dreams and becomes the new Ms Tallaght
By Mary Dennehy
A TALLAGHT resident with learning disabilities has been crowned Ms Tallaght in the prestigious Ms Ireland final, a “personal challenge” which she hopes will open doors for other young people with disabilities.
Samantha Nicholl (35) from Killinarden developed a mild learning disability after suffering from an illness as a child – a condition Samantha has never allowed to hold her back.
A former student of St Joseph’s Special School in Balrothery, Samantha, who worked in the UCI cinema in The Square for eight years, is a talented photographer and has also been involved in a number of fashion shoots, both as a photographer and a model.
“I have never let my learning disability hold me back”, Samantha said.
“It has always been a dream of mine to enter a pageant and in recent years I have had a number of refusals from different competitions because of my learning disability.
“In some cases I have been told that it would be too much for me, and I appreciate if people think they have my best interests at heart, but I can do this – and I’m proving that now.”
She added: “I have always dreamed of this. I’m absolutely petrified, but it’s a personal challenge and I hope I can show everyone what I can do.
“I am physically and mentally able to do things and it’s important that people with all types of disabilities are given the opportunities to follow their dreams.”
Samantha told The Echo that since she was a child she has experienced bullying, such as name-calling – a situation she also wishes to highlight.
“Most people are amazing but there are still people around who call me names and throw things at me because of my learning disability,” Samantha said.
“People should just accept people for who they are and let them get on with their lives.”
Samantha has been “amazed” by the support she has received from the Tallaght community, with DV8 in The Square shopping centre providing Samantha with an outfit, Ross Adams Hair and Beauty looking after Samantha’s hair, Sparkles Beauty Lounge in the Killinarden Enterprise Park providing Ms Tallaght with a spray-tan and local gardening company John O’Connor paying for Samantha’s pageant training.
Shamrock Rovers has also thrown its support behind Samantha and is providing her with a full team kit, which she plans to wear in the Irish round – a different take on what contestants usually wear, one which is not only creative but a positive way to promote Tallaght’s sporting life.
The Ms Ireland Final will take place in the Carlton Hotel-Dublin Airport on November 14.