Kilkenny Rose Orla O’Shea emerged as winner of the 46th International Rose of Tralee Festival. The 20-year-old teacher was voted ahead of 27 competitors hailing from Ireland, Europe, America and Australia to claim the silver crown. She dedicated her achievement to her mother who died four years ago from cancer. “She made me what I am today,” said the emotional winner, who graduated this summer from university with a Bachelor in Education degree.
The Rose of Tralee began in 1968 but after a very successful period it suffered in recent years from high running costs and declining public interest. Faced with possible bankruptcy, organizers of the traditional style pageant have revamped the festival as part of a five-year plan aimed at expanding “Rose Centers” across America and Europe. Support from local business also proved crucial to saving the event from financial ruin.
“All in all we think the festival has gone very well,” enthused managing director Anthony O’Gara, relieved that the festival has bounced back from the brink of closure and is now looking ahead to widening its international appeal. ♦