CONOR Walsh may be the reigning 2014 Rose of Tralee escort of the year but even he had to pass the rigours of a boot-camp.
Almost 200 men applied to become the contestants’ right hand men but only 32 were selected from a stringent interview process for the new test in Kenmare.
As Cappamore is good farming country, Conor had no trouble with shearing sheep, cutting turf or building a dry stone wall.
The lads had to carry out a range of tasks including cycling, horse-riding, abseiling, kayaking, ironing, peeling potatoes and sewing in order to prove they will have the array of talents and stamina needed to be a Rose escort.
It will be well worthwhile for the winner of escort of the year as they will walk away with a cheque for €1,000 and a personalised piece of silver.
But the prizes are only a small part of the story said Conor, who has had a wonderful year.
“Having been selected as the escort of the year in 2014 was nothing short of a great honour. The opportunity to represent a fantastic group and to accompany our Rose of Tralee, Maria Walsh, at numerous events has been a brilliant experience.
“I’ve travelled to Belarus and countless reunions while also working closely with a fantastic Rose of Tralee team who couldn’t have done any more for me. I’ve made memories and friendships that will be cherished forever,” said Conor.
The 2015 Rose of Tralee International Festival takes place from August 14 to 18. The winner of the escort of the year will be announced on Monday, August 17 and Conor will be hoping to retain his crown.
While Limerick men are doing well in the competition the same can’t be said for our ladies.
Despite some outstanding candidates, including this year’s Limerick Rose Rachel O’Neill, it is now eight years since the Treaty County had a finalist in the Dome in August.
“I am still the Limerick Rose, and I am determined to do Limerick proud,” said Rachel.
But there will be some local representation in the final, after Scotland’s Rose Bríd Madigan, who hails from Ballyneety, was picked.