Since its inauguration in 2001, the Nettle of the Northeast beauty pageant has been a much welcomed counter balance to the haut monde graces of Ireland’s premier lovely girls competition, the Rose of Tralee. Broadcast on TV3, the Nettle is often unfairly packaged as the UFC of beauty pageants; the scroaty street fighting cousin to boxing’s graceful ballet.
In the five years since the pageant last visited the town, a number of structural changes have taken place. An independent Genesis report carried out in the wake of the infamous 2010 ‘Battle of the Barbican’ found that the violent mêlée that marred the event was a direct result of the open floor policy, which allowed anyone with €25, a dress and the ability to write in block capitals enter.
The introduction of regional and estate heats has contained much of the violence to the early stages of the competition. In many ways it has streamlined the competitive element of the pageant, with Nettles getting a chance to hone their barbs, threats, saucy one liners, hair-pull and scrab combos before the main event.
This year sees the introduction of a new round – That Fat Bitch Thinks She Can Pole Dance! as well as the return by popular demand of the You Think You’re Great You Dontcha Well Let Me Tell You Something round (also known as the Queen of Sheeba round).
Nettle hopefuls will be escorted by the finalists of Mr. Scroat 2015®, a move which panders to the growing American audience – surely the death knell for the moribund Mr. Skanger® franchise, which tailed off badly by refusing to allow contestants sprout any other form of facial hair except the ‘ronny’.
Pageant organiser Cogser Corrigan, CEO of The Nettle of the Northeast Ltd., attributes the contest’s popularity with its ability to connect with the common man.
“The Rose of Tralee is all well and good but your average working man is never going to meet women who play the harp for fun(!) and speak Japanese on a night out. And if he did sure what would they even talk about?
“No, the Nettle of the Northeast is popular ‘cos the women are attainable. The Nettles themselves can get all dressed up and not have to worry about being ‘a lovely girl’ or CV padding with the now grown up Chernobyl Children or any of that other shite. They can be themselves.
“One of the most enduring qualities the Nettles have is that Joe Pints down the local would know them to see. You work with them. You might have even shifted one or two of them. And you or a loved one have definitely been stung by one!”
Making his debut as host this year is none other than local boy and Hollywood star Colin O’Donoghue. The Hollywood heart throb will be ably assisted by longtime judge Johnny Logan, publicity shy camera magnet, the robal Mayor Bell and Fr. Silvio, the black priest from Brazil who is a late replacement for 2013 Nettle Chantelle.*
Here with some pen portraits of the favourites is TFS fashion and celebrity columnist Jazz Kieransis.
The Castlebellingham Nettle
A right proper rural bitch with a healthy skepticism of foreign women. Coveted by farmers from Stabannon to Lordship, lovely Lorraine has that blend of sass and entitlement that makes farming women jealous the region over. Even Protestant’s have be known to come and take communion just to see her withering looks during Sunday mass.
The Cooley Nettle
Larger than life Samantha is a breath of fresh air and a testament to the Nettles popularity with all shapes and sizes. Big Sam’s legendary personality has been honed to perfection after a decade as best friends to the most popular girls at school. Despite her general bubbliness and courageous use of leggings, Samantha counts herself as among this year’s favourites after assurances her popular friends are definitely lobbying on her behalf.
The Anti-Water Charges Nettle
Stunning Stella, 24, hasn’t missed a protest since water became popular after being invented by so called ivory tower capitalists acting hand in glove with previous Fine Gael/Labour governments. Blessed with the courage of her convictions, Stella has bravely posed topless to highlight the plight of young women who might be forced to become pregnant so as to produce their own milk now that water has become too expensive to drink thanks to Enda Kenny and Labour. Stella has vowed to run in the next General Election on a water based platform.
The Hunger Striker Nettle
Reigning 2014 Nettle Bobbi has always been proud of her Republican heritage and is not afraid to admit starving herself to get into her rib hugging 1916 velvet green dress. Depending on who you listen to, Bobbi is either the collateral damage of a knee trembling terrorist tupp or the fine fruit of some drunken freedom fighter fumbling on the tenth anniversary of Bobby Sands election to Westminster in the toilets of O’Neill’s republican stronghold in Duleek. Nubile Bobbi combines the ambition of Mary Lou and the grinning menace of Marty McGuinness with the logistical flexibility of a diesel smuggler. One thing is for sure, Bobbi won’t decommission her title without a fight.
The Ardee Nettle
Tough as nails and with nails tough enough to scratch through a motorcycle helmet (see Louth Court reports June 2009), bombshell Brittany is a handful for any man. But once you melt that icy exterior a warm hearted and vulnerable young lady with a heart of gold shines through. Eastenders are thought to be watching her. Her special talent is looking after her own and spotting two faced bitches a mile off.
The Yellowbatter Nettle
After literally beating off the competition with a stick in the heats, meretricious Melissa has to be considered one of the favourites for this year’s crown. Citing Tonya Harding as her hero, Melissa’s careful use of the sly dig is legendary and her specialist use of the scathing comment can cut even the slyest bitch to the core.
The Sunnyside Nettle
Barbara is a retail assistant with famous West Street retailer €uro Pound. What can we say about her that hasn’t already been said? Her manager says she puts the ass in assistant. Women want to be her, men want to be in her, children want to have come out of her. Renowned for chewing gum and playing hard to get, Barbara greatest achievement was reducing the Bishop of Meath to a jibbering speedoed wreck on First Holy Communion day at Funtasia. Her speciality is making confident and educated women feel jealous and insecure.”
The Grange Rath Nettle
Kylie is the oldest of this year’s Nettles though extensive face and body tucks paid for by estranged software engineer husband Gavin make her look 27 again. But don’t let her age fool you. Years of backstabbing and faked smiles at the crèche have added to her considerable arsenal of barbs and cruelly accurate put-downs. A Revlon catalogue salesgirl, Kylie knows how to keep her fella happy, and yours too…
As well as being a moral leader for the county, the winning Nettle can look forward to spending her mornings opening rural off licences and giving career guidance talks to transition year students. The winning Nettle gets into Earth and Storm for free, for a year.
The Faa Side will be minute by minuting live from the TLT on the night.
* Twenty thirteen Nettle, Chantelle from St. Laurence’s Park, was incarcerated earlier this year on a charge sheet longer than the queue at Peter Marks on the morning of a Celtic Knights gig in local mutton market Storm. Chantelle, who got rid of her surname by deed poll after her 2014 triumph, was labelled “A genuinely nasty piece of work,” by Judge Bran Flannen after hearing testimonies of minors she’d sunbedded.