Tributes have poured in for Irish pro-fitness model and former Miss Bikini Ireland crown holder, frontline nurse and midwife, Judy Fitzgerald, (32), who has passed away in her native Limerick.
Ms Fitzgerald, who had earned a degree in Nursing from University College Cork, a post graduate degree in Midwifery at University of Limerick, and was a qualified fitness instructor, had continued working on the frontline of midwifery during the Covid-19 pandemic while pursuing a career in the fitness modelling world.
She was crowned Miss Bikini Ireland in 2014, beating contestants from across the globe, and she later proudly carried the Irish flag at beauty and fitness pageants and competitions around the world.
In 2015, she famously rocked the catwalk at New York Fashion Week, dressed in a red jewelled outfit and Victoria Secret inspired hair and make up ensemble, whilst rubbing shoulders with the world’s top supermodels.
The same year she was chosen to interview the event’s designers about their collections at the Broadway Ballroom, Crowne Plaza Hotel, in Times Square, Manhattan.
Speaking afterwards she said the event had been “a dream come true”.
Ms Fitzgerald, of Mulcair Road, Raheen Heights and Finnitstown, Adare, Co Limerick “passed away unexpectedly on 27th May 2023” read an obituary posted online.
Her remains are to repose this Wednesday, 31 May, at Cross’s Funeral Home, Lr Gerald Griffin Street, Limerick City, from 5.30pm-7.30pm, followed by requiem mass at St Nessan’s Church, Raheen, at 12pm, Thursday, with burial afterwards in Castlemungret Cemetery.
Ms Fitzgerald, who had graced the front cover of glossy magazines and was regularly featured in national newspapers, had never forgotten her caring nature and she was both a mental health ambassador and advocate of positive mental attitude through exercise.
Judy Fitzgerald was a professional model, frontline nurse and midwife.
More recently, she had virtually competed at the World Beauty Fitness and Fashion Pro-International Next Level World Tour during the Covid-19 lockdown and was crowned overall European Fitness Model Champion 2019.
An ambitious businesswoman she had also set up a website and fitness app “Judy FitZ Fitness, Get Fit with Fitz” providing personalised workout and diet plans.
On her website she wrote had also worked as a cosmetic or aesthetic nurse after she “represented Ireland on the world stage”.
She said that she aimed to use her fitness skills “to empower” her clients to reach their “goals”, “change their lives for the better”, and “become the best version of themselves”.
“For me, there is no better feeling than inspiring people to feel about good themselves both inside and out,” she stated.
Ms Fitzgerald had shared her life with thousands of followers across her social media platforms including Instagram TikTok and Facebook.
Friends said there were “no words” to express their shock at her death.
Red carpet dress designer at the Cannes Film Festival, Venera Tabakin, posted photos online of the pair together at red carpet events and wrote: “RIP Judy Fitzgerald, my little model and friend, Miss Bikini Ireland and Celebrity of Ireland.”
Former Fair City actress Jenny Dixon, and her husband, actor and former Fine Gael TD, Tom Neville, posted their condolences online.
“So so sad to learn of Judy’s passing. She will be missed by all very much. Our sincerest sympathy to the Fitzgerald family and friends. May she (Judy) Rest in Peace,” the couple wrote.
“Rest in peace Judy,” wrote a friend who posted a red love heart beside the short online tribute, while another friend poignantly wrote, “A beautiful soul, may she Rest In Peace”.
Fellow pageant contestant Mary Mullally, also paid tribute, and said Ms Fitzgerald was a “kind, beautiful person, a girl that would light up a room with her smile”.
“Judy Fitzgerald our Miss Bikini Ireland 2014, has sadly gained her wings. She will be truly missed in the modeling and beauty industry & community,” stated Ms Mullally.
Another friend, Nicole Hoey, mourning the sudden loss of her “bubbly, fun, smiley, kind, beautiful Polly Pocket friend”, wrote, “sadly our beautiful friend flew to heaven, she was slowed beyond words and along with her family and friends, a huge community are heartbroken, devastated, and in utter shock”.
Many of Ms Fitzgerald’s colleagues at University Maternity Hospital Limerick also shared their condolences and sincerest sympathies.
Last March Ms Fitzgerald featured in a recent episode of First Dates Ireland.
She is survived by her parents Liam and Imelda, sister Lucy, brother William, brother-in-Law Pedro, and a large circle of friends.