As per tradition, the Lady of the Lake Festival opened on Friday, July 8 with the unveiling of the new Lady of the Lake.

Crowds gathered in Irvinestown main street for the unveiling event. First to arrive was the 2019 Lady of the Lake, Nikita Ward, who is the longest-ever reigning Lady of the Lake, having kept her crown throughout the festival’s absence and mini-festival in 2021 due to the pandemic.

Impartial Reporter: Beccy Henderson and Leah O’Rourke from Derry Girls finally get to meet Joe Mahon. Photo: Donnie PhairBeccy Henderson and Leah O’Rourke from Derry Girls finally get to meet Joe Mahon. Photo: Donnie Phair

She was followed by the Ladies in Waiting, Jessica Largo-Ellis and Amy Kane. Special guests, ‘Derry Girls’ stars Leah O’Rourke and Beccy Henderson, who play teacher’s pets Jenny Joyce and Aisling respectively in the hit series, joined the Ladies on the stage to take part in the special unveiling ceremony.

The excitement was building as the crowds awaited the arrival of the new Lady of the Lake, trying to guess what type of transport she would arrive by.

Heads turned as a blue and white rally car, driven by none-other than Fermanagh rally driver Alastair Fisher, came down the street, with the new Lady of the Lake emerging from the vehicle, her head covered to keep the suspense going.

After the crowd chanted the countdown together, it was revealed that Irvinestown local Chloe McKevlin was the new Lady of the Lake for 2022.

Finally relinquishing her reign, and wishing her successor all the best, Nikita draped the iconic blue velvet cloak over Chloe’s shoulders.

“It’s an honour to be the new Lady of the Lake,” said Chloe, speaking to The Impartial Reporter.

“Eight years ago, I was a Lady in Waiting, and to think eight years later I’d be the Lady of the Lake – it’s just an honour! I just want to thank everyone who nominated me as Lady of the Lake,” she added.

Official duties

Since being unveiled on Friday night, Chloe has been busy with her official duties, attending the various festival events and presenting prizes to competition winners.

“It’s been great so far,” she said, adding: “Saturday, between the Bonny Baby event and the Pet Show, and then Sunday was the Donkey Derby, where I was put on a donkey and walked across the field, it’s been great!

“On Sunday evening we went out on the Lady of the Lake boat to White Island, where they take the traditional Lady of the Lake sermon.”

Explaining that being unveiled on the opening night was a particular festival highlight for her, Chloe described the atmosphere as “unreal”.

She added: “”There was a real buzz”, noting that she also enjoyed meeting Derry Girls star Leah on the night.

Looking forward to the rest of the festival, Chloe is particularly excited for the Truck Run this Sunday (July 17), where she will be chauffeured in a vintage car.