TWENTY-three-year-old Chloe Heslin, who has been chosen to represent Limerick in the Rose of Tralee, says her selection is “an honour” and everything else beyond that will be a “bonus”.
The qualified speech and language therapist, currently working as a research assistant in the area of motor neurone disease in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, was chosen as Limerick’s representative for the international festival in Tralee at a selection event in the Castletroy Park Hotel last Saturday night.
Chloe, from South Circular Road, was chosen ahead of 20 other girls vying to be Limerick Rose by a three-person judging panel consisting of 1994 Limerick Rose and Rose of Tralee Muirne Hurley-Goode, Melanie Carroll - the last Limerick Rose to make it through the regional finals in 2007 to Tralee - and Grant Hourigan, part of the escort liaison team for the festival.
Speaking this week Ms Heslin said her selection “was a huge surprise”.
“I am delighted, I am still thrilled, absolutely on a high and still in shock,” said Chloe, who was representing sponsor the Irish Motor Neurone Disease Association at the event.
“It was a huge surprise to win, but it was such an enjoyable experience – I would love to see my face! It was a blur from the minute they announced my name. I met some fantastic people and the bunch of girls that I met were amazing company and any one of us could have been selected. I am so pleased with how it turned out,” she added.
A capacity crowd that included Mayor of Limerick Cllr Gerry McLoughlin, 1969 Limerick Rose Mary Whelan, 1986 Rose Elaine Mulcahy, and every Limerick Rose since 2005, turned out to witness the transfer of the sash from Adare woman Suzanne O’Brien - last year’s Rose - to Chloe in the Castletroy Park.
Denis Griffin of the Limerick Rose Centre said Chloe would be a “fantastic ambassador for Limerick”.
“She will be a fantastic representative for Limerick and for the other 20 girls as well,” he explained. “The judges said it was an extremely hard decision and wished Chloe the very best.”
Chloe, a keen musician who started playing the oboe and recorder at a young age, will now seek to be the first Limerick Rose since 2007 to qualify for Tralee at the regional finals on the June Bank Holiday weekend.
She will face a battle for one of seven spots open to 29 counties, but even that figure is complicated, as one girl from every province must be selected, and there are a number of counties with right of entry, and a number of ‘wildcards’ to be handed out.
Chloe, to her credit, is not focusing on the politics of the event and is merely looking forward to representing Limerick.
“It is such an honour to be Limerick Rose and that is my focus at the minute and anything else is a bonus, a complete bonus, I will take it one step at a time,” she said.
“I think it is such an exciting time for Limerick with The Gathering and City of Culture and I am so pleased to be involved in promoting and being an ambassador and representing Limerick.”