Tralee braced for Roscommon invasion!

Rossie Roses heading to the Dome

The International Rose Festival takes place this weekend with a large Roscommon contingent expected in Tralee for both selection nights on Monday and Tuesday next as three Roses with local links vie for the prized tiara.

This year’s Roscommon Rose is 30-year-old Bernie Ryan from the Racecourse Road in Roscommon town. Bernie is a Nurse Manager in Critical Care-HDU in the Mater Hospital and had initially entered the Rose selection process in 2020 prior to Covid-19.

A daughter of Kathleen and Michael Ryan, Bernie plays football for the Roscommon Gaels and has completed three of the six World Major Marathons, raising thousands of euro for worthy causes in the process.

Bernie had recently organised a fun run in aid of Roscommon Mayo Hospice and in memory of her much loved aunt Helen O’Keeffe, who sadly passed away last month. Bernie’s preparations for Tralee were hit with further heartbreak this week following the death of her aunt Nancy in Boston.

  Speaking to the Roscommon People this week, Bernie, said her appearance at Tralee would be bittersweet.

“It’s been a very difficult time for our family following the passing of our beloved aunts Helen and Nancy. I’ve found it difficult this week to be away from my family and particularly my mam, who has lost two sisters in such a short time,” she said.

“I am looking forward to Tralee though and I’m so grateful to my fiancé John Donnelly, my wonderful family and friends and of course everyone at the Roscommon Rose Centre for all their support. It will be a bit bittersweet in Tralee as Helen was looking forward to being there while I have no doubt Nancy would have been following the selection nights too. They’ll be cheering me on though and I hope I do them and Roscommon proud on the night”.

Bernie, who has been on tour with her fellow Roses since finishing a 12-hour shift in the Mater on Tuesday last, says she has enjoyed the experience so far.

“It’s been wonderful to meet so many people and to visit some beautiful parts of Ireland too. The other Roses are just so lovely and it’s great that I have a former classmate of mine, Eiméar Naughton (Queensland Rose) here with me too. Come on the Rossies!”

29-year-old Eiméar Naughton is representing the Queensland Rose Centre this year and the Athleague native, who recently got engaged to her partner José, is looking forward to doing her adopted home proud in Tralee.

“I signed up for the Rose of Tralee in Australia just before the pandemic hit. I’ve always loved watching it on TV and it was something out of my comfort zone so I said why not?”

Eiméar, a daughter of Catherine and Peter Naughton, works as an English and History teacher in Brisbane, says she has enjoyed the Rose journey so far.

“We’ve had a great week touring and we’ve been given a great reception wherever we’ve gone. I’ve visited interesting sites like Curracloe Beach in Wexford where they filmed Saving Private Ryan and we’ve done a tour of Dublin too and visited Kilmainham Gaol and Teeling’s Distillery,” she said.

“I’m very happy and enjoying what is probably the biggest Rose tour to date. It’s surreal at time too. Recently we had a jersey night and we were being asked to sign autographs and pose for photographs. It’s like being a celebrity! (Laughs)

“My family and José have been very supportive of me…my mam even helped alter one of my dresses and added a bit of bling!

“I also want to say a big thank you to the Queensland Rose Centre. The centre is run by two sisters, Roberta and Samantha Andrews, who was also the 1996 Queensland Rose. They’re travelling around Ireland at the moment and they’ve been just amazing!”

Meanwhile, the London Rose, Hayley Reynolds also has Roscommon connections as her father hails from Strokestown.

The 29-year-old is from St. Alban’s in Hertfordshire but was born in the predominately Irish enclave of Cricklewood in London.

Hayley initially worked in marketing but Covid-19 inspired a change in career direction and she followed her passion to work in the fitness industry. She’s a big sports fan and is a member of St. Colmcille’s GAA Club in St. Alban’s. No doubt she too will receive passionate support from Roscommon next week in Tralee.