Kayleigh Maher is preparing to head to Tralee for the Rose of Tralee Festival - Picture: Michael Cowhey
THE BAGS are packed and the nerves settled, as Limerick Rose Kayleigh Maher prepares to leave home ahead of a whirlwind month.
The Kilcornan woman is due to take part in a Rose tour of some of Ireland’s most famous attractions, before taking to Tralee’s dome for the Rose of Tralee Festival from August 16 to 22.
She will be among 64 Roses from all over the world to take part in this year’s festival, which will include parades, a funfair, a circus, fashion shows and fireworks displays.
“I have my packing all done. I need a serious amount of stuff going down, you can imagine, with dresses and everything. I’m pretty much set to go, really,” an excited Kayleigh told the Limerick Leader.
“We are heading up Sunday morning to Kildare to start the tour. I’m not nervous, I’m so excited. I’ve met all the girls at different events, and every time we meet up we have so much fun. It’s just great craic,” she said.
Prior to arriving in Tralee, Kayleigh will embark on a three-day tour taking in some of Ireland’s top landmarks in County Kildare, including the Irish National Stud, the Japanese Gardens, the K Club, Lullymore and Kildare Village.
In Dublin, the Roses will visit Ireland’s top visitor attraction, the Guinness Storehouse, as well as Malahide Castle.
When the Roses arrive in the Kingdom, they will sample some of the most famous scenery and tourist attractions in the world, in Tralee, Dingle, Killarney and Kenmare.
They are due to stay at the Rose Hotel in Tralee, home to the Roses for the duration of the Festival.
Once again, only 32 Roses can be accommodated in the live RTÉ TV selections with Dáithí Ó Sé, on August 21 and 22.
This year’s qualifying judging process will take place before the Roses arrive in Tralee.
“I’m not really looking at it like a competition, I’m going down to enjoy myself, but whatever happens, happens,” said Kayleigh.
It has been a decade since a Limerick Rose has appeared on the television selections for the competition, when UL student Melanie Carroll flew the Treaty flag in the Dome in 2007.
At home in Kilcornan, hopes will be high that Kayleigh can buck the trend - but she will do the parish and county proud either way.
On Tuesday, August 15, Kayleigh will be on the bus to Tralee, and her local supporters are hoping to give her a boost on the way.
The bus will be passing Adare at approximately 2.45pm, and all are welcome to a gathering at the Lantern Lodge at that time to shout her on.
The next Rose of Tralee will wear a splendid new tiara featuring the Rose motif as the central framework, adorned in glistening crystals and the exquisitely crafted Crystal Perpetual Trophy. She will also win a plethora of prizes, including a new car and travel vouchers.