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Oh baby, you were out of this world..; PICTURE EXCLUSIVE: MISS IRELAND'S CHILDHOOD PHOTO ALBUM.

Miss Ireland's mum yesterday opened her family photo album and her heart to the Mirror.

As she prepared to fly to India to join daughter Niamh for Saturday's Miss World contest Orla Redmond took a stroll down memory lane.

At home in Drimnagh, Dublin, she rolled back the years to the childhood of the girl who grew to become one of the world's most beautiful women.

A tear of pride welled in her eyes as she delicately turned pages and lingered lovingly over the pre-school photos.

"Niamh was a perfect baby. She was the quietest baby ever, never the slightest trouble. She was so cute."

She laughed at how the camera caught baby her daughter in her high chair with rollers in her hair.

And she recalled the terrible day when three-year-old Niamh lost Judy, her cuddly toy monkey, during a trip to the local shops.

"We never found it and it broke her little heart. She cried her eyes out. No other toy could replace Judy."

The treasured album has pictures of young Niamh playing with her dolls and clowning around. "She was always dancing," said Orla. "She loved herself. But she was a great little kid, both at home and in school."

A bad bout of chicken box meant Niamh missing her first day of school. It was six weeks before she could join classmates across the road at Our Lady of God Counsel.

She settled in well and made good pals. Orla glanced around the living room bedecked with good luck teddy bears and cards.

"Niamh has always been so popular." She chuckled. "She even got a good luck card from Mr Ireland. And we've had loads of bouquets.

"Niamh has a great personality. She'd natter to anyone. She makes friends easily and keeps them for life.

"She's like her brother, Paul. They're both good fun, but terribly studious.

"Niamh's now in third year of business studies at Maynooth College. She loves the life. I think she'd be a student for ever if she could.

"I wouldn't be surprised if she went on to do another degree."

Miss Ireland's three younger brothers Ron, 15, Paul, 12 and Conor, eight, haven't taken much interest in her career since she won her title earlier this year. But, said Orla, as the Miss World contest draws near, they're beginning to get caught up in the fuss and excitement surrounding their 19-year-old sister.

Paul said: "School pals tease me calling me Miss Ireland's brother. Some even call me Mr Ireland. But I'll be cheering for all I'm worth next Saturday."

The boys will watch the contest in their aunt's home where they will be staying while mum and dad Ron are in India.

They say they'll hold a little party whatever the result on the night.

Orla said she'd love to share the atmosphere in her road as neighbours and friends gather to watch the big event. "Everybody has been brilliant," she said. "But they don't regard Niamh as extraordinary.

"She hasn't changed since winning Miss Ireland. It hasn't gone to her head. She's still the same very natural, down-to-earth, ordinary girl."

She feels she has to be at her daughter's side. "I'm so proud of her," she said.

"and I'm getting very excited about going to Bangalore.

"Niamh phoned the other day to say how much she's enjoying it. The other girls are very nice.

"She says some look like film stars. But I hear that Niamh and Miss India are the two most photographed."

As she put away the treasured photo album Orla said: "We never spoilt Niamh even though she was the only girl. She was a great kid, and I'm really proud of her now."

Does she face losing her glamorous daughter?

Not yet. Niamh is still footloose and fancy free, she says, although there's never any shortage of gentlemen callers.

"She's not seeing anybody at the moment," said Orla. "She's too busy. She had a boyfriend, but they broke up a while ago. When we read a newspaper story the other day about her having a fiancee we all had a good laugh."
COPYRIGHT 1996 MGN LTD
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Taylor, Richie
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 18, 1996
Words:687
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