Limerick Rose hoping to end county’s barren run

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

Limerick Rose Rachel O'Neill with her parents Charlie and Ruth who will make a late dash to support the primary school teacher who is vying for selection at the Rose of Tralee Regional Festival in Portlaoise this Sunday night. Picture: Richard McCarthy
THREE ballgowns, four day outfits, a cocktail dress - plus backups. Such is the life of Limerick Rose Rachel O’Neill, busy preparing for the regional selection event in Portlaoise this weekend.

THREE ballgowns, four day outfits, a cocktail dress - plus backups. Such is the life of Limerick Rose Rachel O’Neill, busy preparing for the regional selection event in Portlaoise this weekend.

And the 22-year-old primary school teacher from Castletroy is doing it all without the back-up of her parents, currently on holiday in Portugal.

“My parents had a holiday booked months ago, so they are flying in at 5pm on Sunday, and I will be on stage at 8pm in Portlaoise,” she laughed.

“They are going to be cutting it fine, so hopefully they will make it!”

The Limerick lass - aiming to reverse a barren selection run for the county that stretches back to 2007 - will be well supported, with her colleagues in Matthew Stephens Jewellers, for whom she works part time and her fellow entrants for the Limerick Rose - 34 of whom she pipped to the crown in March - planning to attend.

The former Castletroy College student, who graduated from MIC in October, also got advice from 2014 Rose Dawn Ryan.

“I was nervous but now I am not, I am just more excited to meet everyone and go to all the events that are happening,” she explained.

“I like being kept busy, I have been trying to do as much as I can in the last couple of weeks, organising, getting dresses sorted.

“Dawn has been the best person ever to talk to, she completely relaxed me and said it is all about meeting new people. You are going up to talk about yourself and you know yourself better than everyone else - so she said I will be fine and everyone will be really supportive, so it will be grand. She was a brilliant source of advice, I am very lucky.”

Melanie Carroll was the last Rose from Limerick to make it to Tralee eight years ago. But Rachel isn’t fazed.

“I am just going to do my own thing, try to be myself - there is no point in being competitive because there are so many girls, and judges will see through that anyway,” she said.

“People have said it to me, but there is not much I can do, we will see how it goes. Everything happens for a reason, that is something I firmly believe in.”

Dáithí Ó Sé will interview 56 Roses over three nights this weekend, with 23 to go forward to Tralee. Roses representing 28 counties in Ireland, 13 regions in the USA, plus Scotland and four cities in England as well as Melbourne, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Canada, Luxembourg and Germany will all take part.

Kerry, Cork, Dublin, Sydney, New Zealand, Darwin, Perth, Queensland and South Australia all have automatic selection.

Limerick has two other hopefuls, with Brid Madigan from Ballyneety selected as the Scotland Rose, and Monasterevin’s Ailish Brennan, who lives and works in Limerick, competing as the Kildare Rose.