Regional Festival in Their Own Words

Some of the Roses taking part in the 2012 Regional Festival talked to us about their experiences in Portlaoise

Nicola McEvoy – Luxembourg Rose

My experience at the Rose of Tralee Regional Finals in Portlaoise was fantastic. I met so many wonderful Roses and made a new group of great friends. We stayed at the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel which was superb. The staff there were very helpful and friendly and made us all feel very welcome and comfortable. I personally had never been to Laois before but was so impressed by every place we visited and the vintage car parade on the Saturday was definitely the highlight for me. We met with many of the local Laois business people who were so kind with their hospitality.  Of course, when we arrived at the hotel and received our Newbridge Jewellery every Rose was thrilled! The Regional Finals is something I will ever forget and I can’t wait to make some new memories in August as I am one of the very lucky girls that gets to go to Tralee!

Orna Theboul – Dubai Rose

As the Dubai Rose, the Rose of Tralee Regional Finals in Portlaoise were such a brilliant and unique experience that I am sure nothing will compare to it again. The hospitality shown by the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel and the Laois Tourism was second to none and I was overwhelmed by their kindness. We were celebrities about town who were decorated in lovely Newbridge Silverware jewellery to make us all shine. The Roses were each such wonderful, intelligent, outstanding and exceptional women of Ireland and I walked away from Portlaoise with many new life long friends. The Rose of Tralee and Portlaoise will forever be a cherished memory and amazing experience.

Marcella Walsh – Antrim Rose

I have always dreamed of being a Rose and I wanted to make new friends. I love to meet new people, experience new things and highlight causes and charities that are relevant or important to my family and community. In January of this year my special 10 year old cousin Caolan Dunlop passed away unexpectedly. Caolan was born with a heart condition and although he took daily medication he lived a happy, playful childhood, always with a smile on his face. I wanted to enter the Rose to have the opportunity to raise awareness, funds and support for the Children's Heartbeat Trust, a wonderful charity that works alongside the Clark Clinic at The Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, providing support to children with heart disorders and their families. Having a contract with a brand new opera company Northern Ireland Opera in place, 2012 was the first opportunity I had to apply and represent the beautiful Green Glens of County Antrim. It was such a privilege to be selected out of 19 inspirational young women and become the 2012 Antrim ambassador. I have gained 53 new Rose friends from all over Ireland and the world and have had the most amazing life changing experience getting to know them all. I have made my family very proud and celebrated my cousin Caolan's life, whilst making a difference for others affected by heart conditions. I am more confident and I learned to treasure the important things in life. I also picked up a fantastic saying - 'Don't dwell on the past, don't worry about the future; seize the moment!' As the Antrim Rose 2012 over the next year, that is exactly what I hope to do!

Claire Lynch – Melbourne Rose

Being the only Australian Rose I had no idea what to expect at the Regional Finals. When I arrived at the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel and saw the beautiful banners saying Rose of Tralee, I knew I was not dreaming - it was now a reality. I checked in and went to my room where I was greeted by a bubbly red headed girl in a Stetson – Kelly Gaetano, Texas Rose. From first meeting I knew that this was a friendship for life, we started discussing dresses and what Newbridge Jewellery would go with each dress, what we would be doing over the week and ending up chatting about when each of us would be going to Melbourne or Texas!!! I believe my week was topped off with the meeting of the Rosebuds. My rosebud Rebecca was a delight. Her mum informed me she had not slept for weeks with excitement about this event and that’s what the Rose of Tralee does it effects all ages, to see Rebecca full of so much excitement and pride as we sat in the Vintage car I said to myself this is why I entered the Rose of Tralee. Since leaving Portlaoise Rebecca’s mum has emailed me to say that I made a positive impact on Rebecca and that she enjoyed every second of it, this is one things that will stay with me forever. It was then SHOW TIME, Lights, Camera, Daithi! Daithi made all the roses feel so relaxed and brought out the best in each one of us. My family came on the Friday and Sunday night and they said watching from the audience it was lovely to see what great variety of talent, education and personalities there was. We were told by the committee that it did not matter what the outcome was on Sunday night and this is without doubt the truth, Once a Rose always a Rose and no matter we will all be down in Tralee either way. As I said at the start I am now part of Rose Family so will be keeping in contact with all 54 Roses and see them down in Tralee or Down Under if they come to visit.

Caoimhe Flanagan – Monaghan Rose

Entering the Rose of Tralee has turned out to be the best decision of my life. Each of the ladies I had the pleasure of meeting in Portlaoise was equally incredible. It is a weekend that I will remember for the rest of my life. We were treated like royalty for the five days in Portlaoise with the finest of cuisine and most incredible events planned. I think the highlight would have to be the Vintage Car Parade, the Rosebud party and seeing all of my family and friends who made the trip to Portlaoise to support me.

Una Matthews – Down Rose

The Rose of Tralee has given me the chance to meet other women of Irish descent from around the world to not only celebrate Irish culture but also have a fun filled year . Being chosen as the Down Rose has given me a great sense of pride and achievement as it is a truly prestigious title. I have certainly gained a number of friends but as well as that I have gained the opportunity to work and fundraise with the Southern Area Hospice Service in County Down. I have also gained an appreciation of all the hard work that goes in to ensuring the continued success of the Rose of Tralee. The Regional Finals in Portlaoise was an amazing experience and I am sure the excitement will continue in Tralee in August. I have probably gained a few pounds as well after all of the wonderful meals which we were given at the Regional Finals in Portlaoise!

Dearbhla Gilroy - Meath Rose

This is just a quick message to say thank you for a fantastic experience last weekend. I really had a brilliant few days in Portlaoise. The time and dedication that went into organising the event must have been enormous because everything seemed to go so smoothly. Please pass on my thanks to all the girls involved, in particular Maureen, Honor, Edel and Áine. it was brilliant getting to know all of you. I'll definitely come to Tralee in August. Thanks so much.