I was first presented with the idea of becoming a Rose about three years ago, by my father. My father is a born and bred Kerry man from a parish by the name of Ballymacelligott, right beside Tralee. He had grown up both attending and working the festival, so it has always been near and dear to him. The Rose of Tralee Festival is quite a significant event in Ireland, however it is not as well known in the United States. So when he mentioned the idea of entering, I had very little knowledge of what the festival entailed. I decided to google it. I immediately saw photos of girls wearing sashes and tiaras. I thought to myself, ok this is a beauty pageant and I am the farthest thing from a pageant girl...
Little did I know, The Rose of Tralee Festival is anything b ut a beauty pageant. It’s so much more than that! It wasn’t until the summer of 2014 while I was studying abroad in Dublin, that I really gained an insight on how impactful this festival really is. My cousin had been selected to be an escort for the 2014 festival. I asked him questions about what his duties entailed and what exactly the festival was all about. He even took me to an event where I met two Roses, the 2014 Meath and Kildare Roses. They were not only lovely, but wonderful ambassadors for their respective hometowns and very informative on how this festival had changed their lives. They told me “Just go for it!”
As is stated on their website, “The Rose of Tralee International Festival celebrates modern young women in terms of their aspirations, ambitions, intellect, social responsibility and Irish heritage.” I was just that. A young, modern, Irish American woman, aspiring to make my mark on the world. The idea of traveling back to Ireland, a country I fall more and more in love with each time I visit, and representing my home of Boston, was something I knew I had to partake in. So I filled out an application and let me tell you, it’s one of the best decisions I have ever made.
The first part of my journey was traveling to Portlaoise for the Regional portion of the festival. It was there that I met 55 other roses. The very first rose I met was my roommate, the Derby Rose. She was the definition of a lady and we immediately hit it off. It was a great start to a whirlwind of a week. While in Portlaoise we had a series of interviews, met the always charming Dáithí Ó Sé and had a bit of banter with him on stage, trips to local spots and we even participated in an antique car parade. It’s amazing how instantaneously friendships can form in such a short amount of time. Even though only some would be selected to move on to Tralee,
we were a family, and all in this together. Once a rose, always a rose.
I was lucky enough to had been selected to participate in the International Festival.
The first leg of the journey was the start of the rose tour in Dublin. Once again, the stars had aligned and I had been paired with a phenomenal roommate, the Abu Dhabi rose. We traveled to schools, hospitals, castles, and local landmarks. We immersed ourselves in the history and the culture of this breathtaking country. Spending days on a bus with 31 other girls would inevitably result in major bonding. We laughed, we cried, and we couldn’t believe how fortunate we were to have been selected to embark on this incredible journey. When we reached the Fels Point Hotel in Tralee, we were immediately greeted by a sea of people, a moment I still find to be so surreal and that I will never forget.
Not only was I lucky enough to be surrounded by such exceptional ladies, there were also 32 escorts that played a significant role in the overall rose experience. Our schedules in Tralee were rather hectic. We had a series of interviews with the judges and the media, parades, visits etc. We were constantly on the move and it was essential that we had these lovely lads there to keep us in check and serve as a much needed support system. The amount of times that I thought I lost my purse or was in desperate need of strepsil...but no worries, escort to the rescue! I can honestly say that we were very well looked after. These intelligent and charming guys were so vital to have around and I can’t thank them enough.
What you’re probably most interested in, is the televised interview. Presenting yourself in front of thousands of people. Sounds scary right? Have no fear! You will be more than prepared to grace that stage in the dome. You have to remember, you’re just having a chat and who knows you better than yourself? Even though I come from a performing arts background, I was still nervous. I remember standing backstage with a pit in my stomach waiting for my name to be called. There’s no turning back now. I got on stage, and all my nerves subsided. The energy from the audience and Dáithí give you such a buzz that you’ll be sad to leave the stage! I finished off with my party piece, my own rendition of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’Mine” and I was on my way.
In the end only one girl is selected to be The Rose of Tralee. This year the remarkable Elysha Brennan was selected as the 2015 Rose of Tralee. I know all of us in the class of 2015 can honestly say how honored we are to have such an exquisite young lady representing each and every one of us. This festival was not only a once in a lifetime experience for me, but for my my family as well. It brought all of us closer together and allowed us to create memories that we shall cling to for the rest of our lives. This opportunity allowed me to meet intelligent and talented women from all over the world. Between the Roses and the Escorts, we have all become a family. I know I have in fact made life long friends, and I cannot even fathom not having these incredible human beings in my life. So as I said before, applying to be the Boston Rose, was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and has without a doubt, changed my life for the better.
My biggest piece of advice for all you potential roses is BE YOURSELF. Seriously, you’re pretty great and don’t let anyone make you think otherwise! From my very first interview at the Boston selection to my interview at the dome, I was 100% me. I even chose a rock song as my party piece, because I love rock n’ roll. Don’t try to be something you’re not, or give answers to questions you think the judges want to hear, just do you!
So, you want to be a Rose? Have I convinced you? Fantastic!
Apply now. You won’t regret it!
2015 Boston & New England Rose