Michelle Rocca

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1994: Michelle Rocca as album cover model

Michelle Rocca (born 1961 in Dublin, Ireland) is an Irish former model, television presenter, and beauty queen who, in 1980, won the Miss Ireland title. The following year, she married footballer John Devine; two years after their divorce in 1990 she became, for a lengthy period, the girlfriend, and later, the wife of Northern Irish singer Van Morrison.

She is the daughter of Paddy and Maureen Rocca[1] and granddaughter of Italian immigrant Egidio Rocca who founded the successful business, Rocca Tiles.


Rocca grew up in a large family with two brothers and three sisters.[2] Rocca attended University College Dublin studying Greek and Roman Civilization and Italian and French Archaeology.

Rocca is fluent in several languages and has earned an MA degree from Trinity College in Dublin and also a degree from Bristol University in Bristol, England.

She entered won the Miss Ireland title in 1980[3] and was number 3 finalist in the Miss International 1981 pageant.

Rocca worked in the family business and also modelled until she joined RTÉ in 1987 as a television presenter. In 1988, she co-hosted the Eurovision Song Contest with Pat Kenny in front of a worldwide audience of 600 million viewers.[4] She continued to model, with occasional presenting jobs, such as the Miss World 1990 contest in London.

Rocca now works as a psychology and motivational teacher with a master's degree in philosophy and English.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Van Morrison and Michelle Rocca: 1995's Days Like This

She began dating Arsenal and Irish International footballer John Devine when she was 17 and they were married in 1981 and lived in England. The couple had two daughters, Danielle and Natasha, but were separated in 1987 and she returned to Dublin with the children.[3] They divorced in 1990.

She was engaged to Cathal Ryan, son of multi-millionaire Tony Ryan who co-founded Ryanair and owned Guinness Peat Aviation. After living together for two years, they separated when Michelle was expecting their child, Claudia, who was born in April 1991.[3]

Rocca met Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison in the summer of 1992.[6] Rocca was the second woman to appear on one of his album covers—1995's Days Like This. (The first was Van's wife Janet (Planet) Rigsbee, who appeared on the cover of 1971's Tupelo Honey.) Rocca also appeared on the cover of the October 1994 tribute album, No Prima Donna: The Songs of Van Morrison.

Upon Cathal Ryan's death in December 2007 of cancer, Rocca was quoted as saying, "He was a wonderful father to Claudia; he and I had a very good relationship over the past number of years and he will be greatly missed by all of us."[7] She also has a granddaughter, who was born in February 2001.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bundle of joy thrills Van and Michelle retrieved 29 September 2007
  2. ^ The passionate intensity of mismatched lovers retrieved 22 December 2007
  3. ^ a b c Rogan, No Surrender, p.407
  4. ^ "23 years ago today - Céline Dion wins for Switzerland". Eurovision. Retrieved 19 November 2013. 
  5. ^ [1] Retrieved 31 October 2013
  6. ^ Rogan, No Surrender, p.406
  7. ^ Heffernan, Breda (21 December 2007). "Founders son dies aged 48". independent.ie. Retrieved 23 January 2008. 

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Austria Karin Zorn
Miss World - Photogenic
Succeeded by
Australia Melissa Hannan
Preceded by
Maura McMenamim
Miss Ireland
Succeeded by
Geraldine Mary McGrory
Media offices
Preceded by
Belgium Viktor Lazlo
Eurovision Song Contest presenter
(with Pat Kenny)
Succeeded by
Switzerland Jacques Deschenaux and Lolita Morena
Preceded by
Ronan Collins
Eurovision Song Contest Ireland commentator
(with Ronan Collins)
Succeeded by
Jimmy Greeley and Clíona Ní Bhuachalla