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Kelly Schlittenhardt (left) named as this year's Miss Irish America. Photographed with last year's winner Maggie O’Neill (r) Photo by: IslandNow

Kelly Schlittenhardt takes crown in Miss Irish America pageant

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Kelly Schlittenhardt (left) named as this year's Miss Irish America. Photographed with last year's winner Maggie O’Neill (r) Photo by: IslandNow

Kelly Schlittenhardt was crowned Miss Irish America at the pageant competition held on June 29 at the Irish American Society headquarters in Mineola, NY.

Schlittenhardt told TheIslandNow.com, that her grandfather encouraged her to enter the competition.

“If I know you, you’ll blow them away with your talent,” she said her grandfather, James Rafferty, told her.

Schlittenhart sang Schubert’s Ave Maria and accompanying herself on piano.

“I enjoyed it. All the girls were lovely,” she said.

Schlittenhardt, 22, competed along with five other women for the title in the competion, which is in its fifth year.

Betty McLoughlin, the past president of the Mineola-based Irish American Society said that contestants must be between the ages of 18 and 25 and have Irish ancestry -- one Irish parent or grandparent.

A panel of five judges from outside the society interviews each candidate before the talent competition.

First prize in the competition $500 and second prize is $250.

The winner will also appear at events throughout the coming year, including an appearance at the Irish American Society’s annual Harvest Moon Ball, and the Mineola St. Patrick’s Parade and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City.

Schlittenhardt, whose mother is from Limerick, said her grandparents took her with the to visit Ireland when she was 16 years old.

The Islip resident, who attended Islip High School and graduated with a bachelor of science in music and a concentration in vocal performance from LIU Post University in May, said she has aspirations for a career in musical theater.

“I’m going to start auditioning for cruise lines and national tours. My real goal is to be on Broadway,” Schlittenhardt said.

Bronwyn Hagan, 20, won runner-up in the competition, Hagans parents are Thomas Hagan from Moyne, co. Longford and Margaret Fitzsimons-Hagan, whose parents are from Cavan and Longford.

Hagan, who has participated in both national and international Irish dance competitions, said she visits Ireland every year.

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