Marie Hayes with runners up Katie and RebeccaThe Irish Sun

The newly crowned Miss Ireland has been stripped of her title – in a bitter dispute over her age.

Mayo beauty Marie Hughes was due to represent Ireland at the Miss World pageant in China in August.

Now she has been dethroned after it emerged she is too old – she will be 26 at the time of the Miss World contest.

Organisers say they have been left with no choice but to take the crown away from Hughes due to her age.

They also say they only became aware of her ‘real’ age after a ‘routine conversation’ having believed she was only 21.

The ‘conversation’ occurred during a meeting to discuss her role and responsibilities as Miss Ireland when it emerged that her 26th birthday coincides with the Miss World competition.

Having beaten off 34 other contestants in the Miss Ireland contest on Saturday, Hughes was unable to beat Father Time in this tiara and tantrums tale.

The Miss Ireland organisers only removed her title after consultations with the Miss World organization who confirmed their age limit is 25 at the time of the contest.

“Once the information came to light, we contacted Miss World officials to clarify the rules on the age of entrants,” said Sean Montague from the Miss Ireland organization.

“We are very fond of Marie and wish her all the very best in the future -- she is a beautiful girl both inside and out and we have no doubt that she will have a great career ahead.”

Now Miss Ireland runner-up, 20-year-old brunette Rebecca Maguire, will represent Ireland in China. A statement from Hughes’ Catwalk Modelling Agency to the Irish Independent newspaper said: “We acted in good faith in entering the competition and are very disappointed with the way that matters unfolded.”