An elated new Limerick Rose, Kayleigh Maher Picture: Will Nolan
KILCORNAN native Kayleigh Maher has been selected as Limerick’s new hopeful to become the next Rose of Tralee this year.
Elated, the 23-year-old NUIG student took home the prestigious sash after 14 local ladies took to the stage at Bunratty Castle Hotel, in a bid to represent Limerick at the famous dome this August.
Speaking to the Limerick Leader after Saturday night’s selection, the Limerick Rose said that she was “so surprised” when her name was announced.
“Just before the winner was announced, I wasn’t even thinking about myself. I was thinking: ‘Which one of the girls is going to get it?’ I did not think that I was going to get it, so surprised,” the West Limerick woman enthused.
Kayleigh, who attended Kilcornan national school, Shountrade national school, and Laurel Hill Secondary School, graduated with a BA in English and Media at Mary Immaculate College, before undertaking a Masters in Education at NUIG. Currently on placement, Ms Maher wants to pursue a career in teaching English at second level.
Ms Maher represented her godfather Jim O’Reilly’s business on the night, FundAssist Limited.
She commended all the Roses who participated on the night, saying that after rehearsals and the group interviews on Saturday, she did not expect to be bringing home the sash, which was handed over by Carrigkerry woman Marie Hennessy.
Jovially reflecting on her performance, following five “brilliant” contestants, she said: “During the rehearsals, we were doing a soundcheck, and the MC Niall O’Brien was like: ‘What do you do, you seem pretty active’. And I said: ‘Yeah I am. But I would never say no to a bit of Netflix and Chill. It was just a joke, a total joke!” she laughed.
But the co-host Rory [O’Brien], he happened to walk in when I was saying that. And when I was being announced on the stage — obviously we had run through a couple of talking points with the MC, and I had an idea of what we were going to talk about — and I was walking on stage, Rory from the back of the room announces, something along the lines of: ‘Kayleigh - her favourite thing to do is Netflix and Chill’. And, straight away, everything was thrown, and I went up laughing then. And it was just me and Niall on stage laughing. And then Niall said: ‘Oh you love your food’. And I thought that people must have thought that all I do is watch Netflix every day and eat food! But it was gas, the way everything happened.”
She said that she is looking forward to the next year as the Limerick Rose, and said that she has become close friends with the other 13 Roses following the three-week preparation and tour.
“We are all best friends, and we only know each other three weeks, and all of a sudden, it feels like we know each other three years. It is very cliché, but it is so true.”
Limerick Rose Centre co-ordinator, Conor Walsh congratulated Ms Maher, adding that it was “a wonderful night” at Bunratty Castle Hotel.
“She will have a wonderful year ahead of her, as there will be lots of events and activities for her to attend around Limerick city and county, as well as abroad and in Tralee. It’s much more than the two nights on television, and she will have a very busy year ahead of her,” he said.
Kayleigh will be one of 65 national and international Roses entering the dome this August.
Contestants included Jenny Bradshaw Ryan, manager of Molly’s Late Bar; athlete and primary teacher Michelle Nicholas; Rachel Moloney from St Patrick’s Road; loyal Cliona’s Foundation volunteer Rachel Leahy; Raheen’s Clodagh Hanrahan; circus artist Jess O’Connor; Royal College of Surgeons student Fiona Bolger; former All-Ireland Ladies Football champion Roisin O’Malley from Cappamore; youngest contestant, Éireann O’Brien, 18; UL Trampaline and Gymnastics Club captain Rebecca Wray; singer-songwriter Emma Langford; and Abbeyfeale’s Nadine Smith.