AFTER five years of waiting and hoping to see a Limerick Rose on the stage in Tralee, the local 2013 entrant will be selected tonight.
Limerick’s new Rose will be crowned in the Castletroy Park hotel and receive her sash from last year’s winner, Suzanne O’Brien from Adare.
The Limerick Rose will be the first to be named in the country, alongside Wicklow, spurring hopes that Limerick’s unlucky streak in the festival could end this year.
Controversially, for five years in a row, the county has missed out on having a representative in the Rose of Tralee festival. But none of that was on the minds of 21 young ladies, who under a garda escort throughout the city last weekend, felt like “winners” already.
A busker played The Rose of Tralee as the ladies made their way through the Milk Market on Saturday. The rose theme continued throughout the day, with rose cupcakes served to them in the George Boutique hotel.
“They are an amazing bunch of girls, and they have all bonded so well together,” said Denis Griffin, of the Limerick Rose Centre.
Chloe Brennan, 23, from Monaleen, a primary teacher in Ballysheedy Roxboro national school, said: “It has been amazing – more than I expected it to be. We’re being treated like royalty. This is really something you’re going to remember for the rest of your life.”
She said to get to the Rose of Tralee “would be a dream, but this has been an experience in itself. We’re all winners already”.
Niamh Phelan, 25, from Cratloe, said: “It feels like we’re doing the Rose of Tralee already.
“I did this to meet people, and I want to represent Limerick. Some many people here are like-minded,” added the secondary school teacher in the Salesians.
“To me, when I was younger, it was unattainable, it was on TV, and that I have the sash on, it’s unbelievable.”
Kelly O’Brien, 24, a Masters student in journalism at the University of Limerick, said: “It would be a great honour to be selected and represent Limerick. I just did this to meet new people and have a bit of fun. It’s definitely worth it. All of the girls would be great at representing Limerick.”
Niamh Carey, 25, a nutritionist from Mungret, was also blown away the reception they received in the city, with heads turning at each stop along the tour. Lisa Falvey, a teacher in John the Baptist school in Hospital, said it is “every girl’s dream to make it to Tralee”.
Regardless of who is selected this Saturday, they have all vowed to be in Kerry supporting the county’s representative.