LIMERICK hasn’t had a Rose on stage in the Dome in Tralee on seven years, but six men from the locality have been selected to take the arms of Roses from across the world for the 55th annual Rose of Tralee festival this weekend.
Among the escorts is Liam Harnett, 28, from Abbeyfeale, a practicing solicitor in commercial litigation in Arthur Cox in Dublin, having studied law and accounting in the University of Limerick.
“A couple of friends of mine did it a few years ago, and said it was one of the best experiences of their life, so I said ‘Why not?’ I went for the interviews, and was really impressed by the way it was run. It’s an international event, and it’s just not just a social event - you’re there to promote Ireland,” he told the Limerick Leader.
Liam’s duties as an escort have yet to be outlined to him in full, but he added that he’s “happy to help out in any way that I can.”
“I don’t know what the whole week will involve, but I’m really looking forward to the experience,” he said.
Another escort is Conor Walsh, who describes him as a farmer’s son from Cappamore. An electrician and linesman with the ESB, he is also a qualified aircraft maintenance technician and avid sportsman.
Escort Felix Ross, from Birdhill, graduated from the University of Limerick in 2011 after completing a degree in sports and exercise science and now works in Glenstal Abbey secondary school as a housemaster and rugby coach.
Escort Des O’Callaghan, from Mallow, went to boarding school in Glenstal Abbey School and is a third year business student in University of Limerick.
Escort Kennedy O’Brien, from Newcastle West, works as a telesales executive with Pallas Foods, and is finishing his final year studying Irish and history in the University of Limerick.
Limerick born Ross Mullane, who is sponsored by Fitzgerald’s Menswear in Clonmel, was is a final year student in the University of Limerick, where he is studying law and was President of the Law Society.
For the seventh year in a row, Limerick’s Rose has failed to make it to the final of the showpiece competition.
Dawn Ryan, 21, from Meelick, was picked as Limerick’s Rose, but the care worker with Enable Ireland in Mungret sadly did not get through the qualifying stages. She will, however, be in the Dome in Tralee for the pageant. Limerick’s last representative at the Dome was Melanie Carroll back in 2007.
The last time Limerick won was with Muirne Hurley in 1994. However, Denis Griffin, organiser of the Limerick Rose Centre, pointed out that Galway has not had a Rose in Tralee for 10 years, and believes that the strict selection process is not unfair.
“It’s not that this is a slight against Limerick. God help the three judges [in the Regional finals] who have to choose 23 Roses out of 60. It’s a lottery, and we make this very clear to all the girls who enter that this is the process, ” he said.
Now in its 55th year, RTE presenter Daithi O’ Se greeted the 32 Roses at Dublin Airport, this week. They will be in Limerick on this Thursday at 4pm in the Maldron hotel.