A LIMERICK nursing student based in the UK has been crowned the Newcastle upon Tyne Rose.
In the five decades since the Rose of Tralee has been an annual fixture, the Newcastle Rose has yet to take the title.
But Vonnie O’Sullivan, 21, from Croom, could change all that.
Ms O’Sullivan is studying nursing in the University of Abertay Dundee and was stunned to win the competition after entering the event on a whim. She had been visiting friends in Newcastle, when they encouraged her to put her name forward.
Proud mum Mary said the family are absolutely thrilled that their girl could be set to make her way to the Dome for the Rose of Tralee international festival in August, which will be watched by millions of people around the world.
She will now go forward to the regional finals in Portlaoise where she will compete for a place in the international Rose of Tralee. “We’re absolutely delighted. Once she has a bit of fun when she comes to Portlaoise that’s the main thing,” she said.
“She loves to sing, and she said ‘Once I get to sing I’ll be doing well’,” she said with a laugh.
Vonnie, who has been studying in Dundee for two years, is one of four daughters, and the third in the family of Mary and JJ O’Sullivan. A former pupil of Colaiste Ciarain in Croom, she plans to sing a number by Ella Fitzgerald on the night.
She is hoping to secure sponsorship for daywear.
All eyes will be on the regional finals in Portlaoise on the June Bank Holiday weekend to see whether Limerick’s two Roses will make it through to Tralee.
The Limerick Rose, 24 year-old Orlaith Carroll from Caherdavin, is hoping she can break Limerick’s unlucky streak in the festival.
Limerick has failed to have a Rose in the Dome in Tralee for the past three years.
Ms Carroll is a fashion design graduate of Limerick School of Art and Design and was sponsored to be a Rose by the University of Limerick Arena, where she teaches swimming.
In the history of the 52-year event, Limerick has won the pageant on two occasions – by Dianne Hannagen in 1984, and by Muirne Hurley a decade later.
The Rose of Tralee International Festival will take place from August 19-23 and the new Rose will be crowned live on RTÉ One on Tuesday, August 23.