Call for aspiring ‘roses’ to bloom

The world of farming and agri-business has always been strongly represented through ‘roses’ and their escorts at the Rose of Tralee International Festival and this year is expected to be no different.

Last year, agricultural backgrounds were very much in evidence. The farming ‘roses’ included: Chicago Rose Teresa Daly who grew up in Kanturk, Co. Cork, on a dairy farm; Down Rose Orlagh McNally whose dad is a farmer with his own on-farm butchery and farm shop; Fermanagh Rose Stephanie Maguire who enjoys farming; and South Carolina Rose and agribusiness student Ellerslie McCue.

There was a host of escorts with agricultural links from both near and far.

Escorts who were from relatively local regions included: Benjamin Cottrell from Cork, a supply chain graduate with Kerry Group; the appropriately named Gavin Farmer, also from Cork, a member of Macra na Feirme; Paudie Lucey, again from Cork who is from a farming background; and Joseph Meehan from Tralee, a farming enthusiast.

Escorts from further afield included: Shane Murphy from Mayo whose longterm aims are to buy his own farm and start an agricultural business; Stephen Murray from Galway, technical agricultural officer, Department of Agriculture; Patrick O’Reilly, Laois, a part-time farmer; Cillian Phelan, Kilkenny, a member of Kilkenny Macra; and Ger Stephenson, Waterford who spent his formative years working on the family farm.

Over 4,000 women have entered the international festival selection events around the world since 2014.

The current Rose of Tralee, Dr. Jennifer Byrne, was joined by RTE’s Rose of Tralee presenter, Daithi O Se, in Galway recently to launch the search for her successor – who will be crowned in the festival dome on Tuesday, August 21.

Rose of Tralee 2017 Dr. Jennifer Byrne with RTE’s Daithi O Se. Image source: Rose of Tralee International Festival Facebook page

Jennifer, the first ever Offaly Rose to take the title, said: “All I can say to any young woman is: Go for it and apply. The Rose of Tralee International Festival has truly been the most incredible experience of my life and I hope to encourage as many young women as possible to take part and become their local ‘rose’.

“I guarantee them they will make incredible friends and have an amazing experience. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my year as the Rose of Tralee so far and am really excited for what’s to come,” she said.

Many people think that the Rose of Tralee festival is just one week long and they don’t realise that the ‘roses’ and their escorts have so many incredible experiences throughout the whole year.

“I’ve so many more exciting times ahead and I’m really looking forward to meeting the 2018 ‘roses’ who will be selected in the coming months,” said the Clonaderig native, who studied medicine at NUI Galway.

Jennifer was one of the 502 people who took part in qualifying selections in Ireland last year, while another 500 women entered selections in the US; Canada; Australia; New Zealand; Hong Kong; Britain; Europe and the Middle East in 2017.

Daithi O Se, who will return in August to host his ninth selection, said: “I love being involved in the Rose of Tralee. I love meeting the ‘roses’, their families, the ‘rose’ escorts and people who want to be part of something that’s 100% Irish.

The Rose of Tralee is a major focal point in Irish communities all over the world that draws people together. In fact, it is the single biggest thread that ties the whole Irish diaspora together.

“I would encourage young Irish women everywhere to apply now to take part in one of the biggest festivals in the world,” the presenter said.

Rose of Tralee regional selections will take place from February to June all over the world and anyone interested in entering their local Rose of Tralee event can do so at:

The first two ‘roses’ destined for Tralee in 2018 will be announced on February 16 and 17 in Abu Dhabi and Ohio respectively with another 62 ‘roses’ to be chosen at selection events up to the end of June.

As the lead sponsor of the Rose of International Festival, Tipperary Crystal will present the 2018 Rose of Tralee with a complete collection of Tipperary Crystal jewellery and products from its giftware and homeware collections.

The Rose of Tralee will wear the tiara featuring the rose motif as the central framework, adorned with crystals, and will also receive the crystal perpetual trophy.

The next Rose of Tralee will drive away from Tralee in a new Kia from McElligotts Tralee, with a world travel prize valued at €25,000 and a week-long holiday in Kerry from Kerry County Council.

This year’s festival  will run from August 17 to 21. To find details of ‘rose’ selections and to apply online, visit