LIMERICK’s Chloe Heslin is “the girl” to break the county’s abject recent record in qualifying for the Rose of Tralee, according to the last Rose to qualify for the Dome.
Melanie Carroll, the last Limerick Rose to make it to Tralee in 2007, is backing Chloe to make buck the trend of recent years and make it to the international festival this summer.
Limerick Rose Chloe, from South Circular Road, will be one of 61 girls vying for selection at the regional festival in Portlaoise this weekend.
The 23-year-old qualified speech and language therapist will take to the stage with host Dáithí Ó Sé on Friday night, seeking to break Limerick’s cycle of bad luck in the competition.
“It would be great to see Limerick back down there because Limerick has always been great to support the festival. I think this is our year though, I really do think Chloe is the girl to go down to Tralee this year,” said Melanie.
Ms Carroll, one of three judges who selected Chloe, admitted the county’s recent record was “disappointing”, but stressed that the Limerick Rose was a worthwhile one, regardless of qualification.
“It is disappointing for somebody not to get through but at the same time, they still have an amazing year,” she said.
“Chloe is wonderful, she is an excellent representative, she’s intelligent, well spoken, she’s fun, she is a very accomplished young woman, so I have every faith that she will do Limerick proud for her whole year,” said Melanie, who was a judge along with 1994 Rose Muirne Hurley-Goode and Grant Hourigan, part of the escort liaison team for the festival.
“I think we definitely selected the best ambassador to represent Limerick and I think she will do really well, have a great time in Portlaoise and hopefully make it on to Tralee,” she added.
Adare’s Suzanne O’Brien was unlucky not to qualify last year, but said afterward: “The whole experience has been unforgettable - despite not being on the stage in the Dome.”
Chloe, currently working as a research assistant in the area of motor neurone disease in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, said she feels no extra pressure on her young shoulders, despite the county’s miserable recent record in the competition.
“I feel the exact same, I can only do my best and enjoy it and come back to Limerick whatever the outcome and just enjoy the next few months ahead,” she said this week.
“My Rose journey doesn’t end in Portlaoise, it is until March of next year. I will see how it goes anyway. I will go to enjoy it and make some friends and memories,” she added.
The former Laurel Hill Coláiste student is an ambassador for Pieta House for the year of her stint as Limerick Rose and said she has “hardly had a quiet moment” since being selected ten weeks ago.
“It is great, it is a huge honour and I am very proud,” she said.
“I am really looking forward to representing Limerick for the next few days because I am so proud of the county.”
Denis Griffin, who took over operation of the Limerick Rose selection after the committee that had long been in place locally decided to step down, paid tribute to Chloe this week, saying she was a “fantastic ambassador” for Limerick.