Aisling blossoms at Rose of Tralee Festival

The International Rose of Tralee Festival came to an end on Tuesday night as the Chicago Rose, Maggie McEldowney, was crowned this year’s winner.

  Roscommon Rose, Aisling McNeill, had made the live selection and appeared on stage in the Dome on Monday evening, and following an impressive performance had become one of the favourites to take the title.

  Aisling told the Roscommon People earlier this week about “the experience of a lifetime”: “It’s been phenomenal! It’s been such a great experience. I got more out of it than I ever expected; I’ve made great friends and created life-long memories. The best experience of my life.”

  The Roscommon Rose was also full of praise for the 2016 Rose of Tralee. “She’s (Maggie McEldowney) such a lovely girl. She’s so unassuming; quiet, but quietly confident also. She’s a lady really and I’m so happy for her!”

  When it came to the judges’ decision, Aisling had no regrets. “No, of course not. No regrets. My goal was to make the live final and I’m delighted I did that. It’s been so much fun, a really wonderful experience but I’m happy to be going back to school next week!

  “It wasn’t as easy as I thought in terms of the energy required down there but we were treated like queens and princesses. We were bombarded with gifts and presents from all over the country. I can’t explain how well we were treated down there, it was like Disneyland for adults!”

  Aisling is also extremely grateful for the support she has received throughout her entire Rose experience. She said: “It has brought family, friends and colleagues together in such a special way. The support from Roscommon has been amazing too. I’ve done as much as I can for the people of Roscommon and I can only hope I made them proud.”

  As for the festival as a spectacle, Aisling said she really enjoyed watching the other Roses on stage.

  “If you look at the talent of the 65 Roses who took part then you would have to say the future is bright in our country and among the Roses across the rest of the world too!”