SHE WON’T be on the stage in the Dome in Tralee for the Rose of Tralee, but Limerick Rose Suzanne O’Brien will be riding high nonetheless - at the RDS Horse Show in Dublin.
The keen horsewoman from Adare has been a competitor there since the age of five, and will be competing in a number of events next week, including the ladies side saddle, as the Roses from around the world fly into Ireland for the 53rd Rose of Tralee.
For the fifth year in a row Limerick will not be represented in this year’s festival, but all eyes will be on the New Orleans Rose, Lisa Brady, whose mother hails from Granagh in county Limerick.
Ms O’Brien be among those in the Dome on the night cheering on the other Roses, along with other Irish Roses who didn’t make it through to the grand finale. Before the two-night event in Tralee, the 32 Roses will travel around the country from August 13-17, taking in Dublin, Newbridge, Ballinasloe, Westport, Galway and Limerick.
Ms O’Brien had hoped to greet the Roses in Limerick but she will be unable to greet them due to next week’s commitments. “It’s really unfortunate. I would absolutely love to be there to welcome the girls to Limerick and hope they have a brilliant time in Limerick. Since Portlaoise [the Rose of Tralee final] I have gone on to compete for the RDS and it’s a really big opportunity. I can’t believe I’m missing out on greeting them, but I’ll be heading straight down to Tralee after the event,” she told the Limerick Leader.
She described her time as the Limerick Rose, which will conclude next year, as “amazing”. “I couldn’t have asked for a better year. I’m doing as much as I possibly can to get the most out of the year, and people have been fantastic to me even after I didn’t make it to Tralee,” said the broadcast journalist with Live 95FM.
Limerick has won the Rose of Tralee twice in the past, with Muirne Hurley, daughter of city councillor Cormac Hurley, in 1994, and by Diane Hannagen in 1984.
Steve Cronly, the commercial manager of the Rose of Tralee festival, said the ‘Rose tour’ is a very important event on the Irish tourism calendar as it sends “the perfect picture postcard to send to the world.
“There is no other festival in Ireland that offers such an insight to so many parts of Ireland en route to the main hub of the entertainment in Tralee,” he said.
The Roses will visit renowned Irish landmarks including Leinster House, Dáil Éireann, Croke Park, the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Airport, RTÉ in Dublin, and the home of the festival’s lead sponsors, Newbridge Silverware in Kildare.
The Carlton Hotel Group will once again play host to the Roses at all stages of the tour, including the Carlton Castletroy Park Hotel in Limerick.
Hosted by Daithi O’Se, who recently married a former Rose, it will be televised on Monday, August 20 and Tuesday, August 21, and the winner will be presented with her tiara by Ronan O’Gara.
Jedward, Gift Grub Live, an air show, fireworks displays and 60 hours of free entertainment are on the menu for the festival.
The festival will begin on Friday next with the gala Rose Ball. More than 50,000 people will line the streets of Tralee to watch three parades with over 700 participants, 12 floats, 32 Roses, and 10 marching bands.
The mother of Ms Brady, the New Orleans Rose, hails from Granagh in county Limerick.
The 21-year-old is studying for a degree in psychology & Spanish at the University of Alabama. She hopes to travel and teach English for a year abroad after graduating.