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Miss Universe Ireland winner says she had to change her Irish name for TV in US

DUBLIN: Miss Universe Ireland Fionnghuala O’Reilly has revealed that she had to change her Irish name for TV in the US because it was too difficult to pronounce. Ms. O’Reilly says that now she is their “fig”. However, she says that she likes to be called Fionnghuala.

Fionnghuala O’Reilly (27) has made history by becoming the first woman of colour to be crowned the prestigious pageant winner in 2019.

Ms. O’Reilly is now an Irish-American model and engineer, and also a NASA datanaut. She says she still has problems with people questioning her identity. The Irish Beauty also acknowledged that she used the nickname “Fig” for her TV career.

Fionnghuala O’Reilly, who has worked in Dublin as an Engineers Ireland Ambassador, said: “Growing up, my mum, she is black American, and my dad is Irish. I’m one of six, I have five sisters and we all have quite unique names. My mum named us all international names because our family was very international. Some of my sisters have African names. And two of us have Irish names. Me and Aoife. Our names are spelt in a very Irish way but in America, it was always typically America that we would have these issues. People would say, well do you have a shorter name that people can write for you?” But the answer is that my mother never agreed with such a name. She added that her mother taught her to remain proud of her Irish moniker.

Fionnghuala said: “She refused to let us have nicknames, she refused to let people write our names in a different way, she was like, ‘no, these are their names and you are going to learn their names. I don’t care if it is difficult for you. Elizabeth is five syllables, Fionnghuala is only three. There’s more letters.’”

“But I prefer to go by Fionnghuala and I do go by Fionnghuala in Ireland but in America, Fig – especially now that I work in television – most of my friends and people I just meet call me Fig. Otherwise they can’t remember my name. It is unfortunate and I do wish more people would take the time because I am Fionnghuala in my heart. Fig is great, I love it as a nickname, but Fionnghuala, you know deep down that’s who I am,” she said.

Her dad, who was a Dubliner, was in the US Army. Fionnghuala was born in the first military base in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Since then, she and her five sisters have lived all over the world and attended more than 90 schools.

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