‘Whirlwind’ year for Rose from Limerick set for Tralee

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

The Queensland Rose, Sorcha Holmes from the city, with her mum and dad Terry and Carol, sister Cliona, former Rose winner Dianne Hannagen, uncle Liam Brinn from Washington, friend Martina Murphy and the manager of the South Court hotel, Dermot Kelly
HER SUITCASES are packed and ready to go. The dresses by a Brisbane designer have been flown in, and the jetlag has subsided.

HER SUITCASES are packed and ready to go. The dresses by a Brisbane designer have been flown in, and the jetlag has subsided.

All Sorcha Holmes can do now is get some sleep before the hectic, nine-day Rose tour of the country commences at the weekend.

While she is not strictly the Limerick Rose, the county’s hopes will be pinned on Sorcha from the Ennis Road in the city, who will take to the stage in the famous Dome in Tralee as the Queensland Rose.

Sorcha from Lansdowne Park, is the first ever non Australian-born lady to claim the title.

“While I am the Queensland Rose, I’m also going to be representing Limerick as well,” the 26 year-old told the Limerick Leader when she arrived back home this week.

“I had no plans to come home [from Australia] this year at all, and then this happened, and it has been an absolute whirlwind.”

After three flights and more than 21 hours of travel, Sorcha arrived back in Dublin airport in to the arms of her delighted mum and dad. Back in Limerick, she met up with Dianne Hannagen, the Limerick winner of the Rose of Tralee in 1984, who imparted some words of advice for the days ahead.The only other Limerick winner of the festival was Rose Muirne Hurley, daughter of councillor and former garda Cormac Hurley, in 1994.

“I studied in Tralee and have been to the festival a few times, but to be a part of it is just unbelievable. It’s great when you watch it on TV, but it just doesn’t do it justice. It’s going to be amazing to be a part of that; I’m really, really excited.”

“I’ve been very lucky; people have been very good to me, and I have a lovely couple of dresses from Jessica Lee Smith in Brisbane, who also sponsored the 2011 winner Tara Talbot. They’re fairytale dresses, and I don’t know what other opportunity I’d have to wear them.”

Limerick has been unsuccessful in having a Rose in Tralee for six successive years, but Sorcha will be the county’s “silver lining” during the annual festival in north Kerry, running from August 14 to 20.

She said she is “absolutely thrilled and privileged” to represent the Australian city and be the 26th Queensland Rose, and already “feels like a winner” regardless of who takes the crown.

“I was so shocked to be chosen as the 2013 Queensland Rose and I can’t wait to meet all the other Roses and have the experience of a lifetime this August.”

The Roses will also visit Adare Manor on Friday week, August 16, during their whistle stop tour of the country. Visits to Dublin Zoo, the Guinness Storehouse, the Titanic centre in Belfast, as well as a visit to Derry, City of Culture, for the first time in a number of years, are planned for their tour.

Sorcha, who is the youngest of six children, said she has been watching the Rose of Tralee for as long as she can remember, assisted with the Limerick Rose committee for a number of years, and incidentally studied in Tralee, where she “experienced the magic of the festival” first hand.

The daughter of Derry Holmes from the Ennis Road and Carol Brinn Holmes from Thomondgate, she’ll be backed by more than 50 supporters in the Dome itself, while friends and colleagues will also be watching the event live ‘back home’ in Brisbane at 6am.

Sorcha, who attended the Salesian secondary school in the city, went to Australia in 2011, originally to see her sister who has lived there for six years, and now it has become her home also. “The minute I got here I fell in love with the place, people and climate. Brisbane is such an amazing city and so diverse. There is always something going on and the city really embraces all cultures.”

The keen basketball player played with the UL Huskies for 10 years, and received a sports scholarship from the IT Tralee for her four years there. She is currently co-authoring a book called ‘We Are Queensland’, which has over 90 authors, all different nationalities which make up multicultural Queensland.

Sorcha is the event manager for the Brisbane Irish Festival and St Patrick’s Day Parade, one of the biggest in Australia.