Meet Ireland's Best Dressed Woman

Carol is a racing style star

More than 600 women competed for the Best Dressed Lady prize at Ballsbridge on Thursday but only one woman came out top, and she is no stranger to picking up prizes.

Hat designer Carol Kennelly (42) won the judges over with a elegant cream ensemble by designer Tina Griffin. Fittingly, she wore a fascinator she designed herself.

And this born fashionista has been putting her style credentials to good use since 2005, when she first began entering (and winning) Best Dressed Lady competitions.

Six years ago, the Co Kerry woman came to public attention when she won the prestigious Best Dressed Lady prize at the Galway Races.

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For the occasion, she wore a mustard hat with hibiscus flowers and purple butterflies that she also designed herself.

The €1,000 prize money enabled her to take a class in hat design and start her own business, Carol Kennelly Millinery.

And the rest, is history.

The business has evidently been a success as an astonishing 50 ladies wore her hat designs at the Galway Races last month.

The mother-of-two was emotional when she spoke after her win at the RDS during the week.

"I feel like crying and laughing and possibly fainting, all at one time," she beamed.

"Competing is what started it. It allowed me to start my business and to design. It means I now love what I do, day in, day out. It brings joy, and the greatest joy is making something.

"The races are a great platform for me to showcase my work. It's a place for people to see what I can do," she told RTE.

Kennelly has taken part in at least four Best Dressed contests this year alone and her designs regularly feature at races all over Ireland.

"It's addictive. It's a day out where I meet my friends. We go to about three or four meetings a year. It's a day off and a place to meet and enjoy the company of friends who I wouldn't have known if it wasn't for the races. We all have a lot in common."

She now has her sights set on the US and hopes to win the Best Dressed prize at the famous Kentucky Derby.

"My dream win would be the Kentucky Derby - I was a finalist last year and its very exciting to be part of it."

This year’s judging panel included acclaimed milliner Philip Treacy, stylist Brendan Courtney and presenter Angela Scanlon.

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