‘This is not a beauty pageant, it’s much more than that!’

Aisling McNeill, a 23-year-old teacher in Scoil Mhuire, is getting ready to represent Roscommon at the International Rose of Tralee festival. Her festival will begin next Wednesday (August 17th) as she takes part in the qualifying section in the Dome. She will discover whether she has made the televised selections on Sunday (August 21st). The televised selections will take place at 8 pm on Monday (22nd) and Tuesday (23rd) on RTE 1.

  Speaking to me earlier this week, Aisling was adamant that the festival is far more than a beauty pageant and plays a significant role in Irish culture.

  “The Rose of Tralee is not in any way a beauty pageant, it’s about much more than that. It’s about celebrating Irish diaspora, Irish culture and the importance of Irish heritage and the way we foster it and promote it. It also, I suppose, promotes strong, independent young women and the way that they can portray their own image and portray what they believe is right and their own thoughts in a fun and enjoyable way and also in a fearless way.

  “I suppose Miss Teen USA and things like that are about looks and that but Rose of Tralee is about much more because I think looks are skin deep and you need to look a lot deeper than that, you can’t judge a book by its cover!”

  A proud Rossie, Aisling has enjoyed her reign as Roscommon Rose so far and has also received plenty of encouragement from family, friends and the county as a whole.

  “As you know, I’m heavily involved in Roscommon Gaels GAA Club coming from a strong tradition of GAA in my family. My mum, Mary, and my sister, Aoife, have been a great support as have my friends and family, the Roscommon Rose Committee, and my work colleagues and students – the list goes on and on!”

  As for the challenges a Rose must face, Aisling tells me it isn’t all plain sailing! “The biggest challenge, honestly, is trying to stand in heels for hours on end! (laughs). Other than that it’s been very enjoyable and meeting loads of great people has been brilliant. Like I said, you’re mingling with people from different walks of life. It’s hard to be going out with a full face of make-up on the whole time and dressed to the nines but there’s a lot of help from people and a lot of dresses being donated.”

  Looking ahead to next week, the Roscommon Rose was excited about the adventure and looking forward to seeing her supporters in the Dome.

  “There’s a massive contingent travelling down to Tralee so we’re looking forward to that and I’ve massive family support with my mam and sister travelling down. I also have grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins and I have Roscommon Gaels members coming down. Many of the staff from Scoil Mhuire, friends from college and school and also friends from all over the country are making the trek down so they’re really looking forward to the experience and a night in the Dome!”

*Aisling wanted to thank the Roscommon Rose Committee and in particular Yvonne Corrigan Donohue, Martin Conneally, Edyta from All About You, Rachel Feeley and the wider Roscommon community!