IN PICTURES: Meet all 57 women hoping to be crowned the 2018 Rose of Tralee

The 2018 Rose of Tralee International Festival begins on August 17.
The 2018 Rose of Tralee International Festival begins on August 17.

The Rose of Tralee International Festival is as quintessentially Irish as the rain, Guinness and going to Mass on a Sunday and it all kicks off on Friday August 17, 2018.

To launch our gallery of photos of all 57 women competing in this year’s competition click on the logo in the bottom left corner of the photograph above or on the link, also above.


2018 ROSE BIOGRAPHIES

ABU DHABI ROSE – SARA KATE MANGAN

My name is Sara Kate Mangan, I am 26-years old, and honoured to represent Abu Dhabi in the Rose of Tralee Festival. At the age of 18 I moved to Liverpool to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse. After three fun filled years living in the city of The Beatles, a leap of faith took me even further afield from my humble Mayo roots to Abu Dhabi. What an adventure it has been. I am a dedicated and caring nurse working in the state of the art Cleveland Clinic in Abu Dhabi where we provide exceptional medical care to the local Emirati people. I plan to further my education with a Masters specializing in wound management so I can aid the healing process for my patients. My love for travel has taken me from Achil to Agra and Laken to Lebanon. With a passion for promoting good mental health I will always be found with a smile on my face and a positive outlook on life. Interests include socializing and meeting new people, music, fashion and sport. Always a supporter and never a player, come September I can be found teaching local Emiratis to say “Mayo for Sam” and hanging banners around the ward...just don’t mention the curse.

ANTRIM ROSE – ROISIN MCCLOSKEY

My name is Roisin McCloskey, I’m 23 and live in a small town called Portglenone in Co. Antrim. I come from a big family, mum, dad, 3 sisters and 2 brothers, who all play Irish music! I graduated last summer from Queen’s University Belfast, with a BA (Hons) degree in Drama. Since then I decided to start my own drama business called Dramability. Dramability is a non-competitive confidence building drama class for children. As well as drama, I also teach Traditional Irish Music lessons in Tin Whistle, Flute and Harp. I am a very active person and love to keep myself busy. Typically, after I finish one project I ask myself what’s next. I’ve been dancing from the age of three and am currently training to be an Irish dancing teacher. In my spare time I work at the Jungle NI which is an outdoor activity centre. I’m a thrill seeker and love spending time dangling from the high ropes course or rolling downhill in a Zorb ball! I am honoured to be representing Co. Antrim, and will be sure to carry my tin whistle to Tralee to play a few tunes! I know I will love every second of my Rose journey.

ARIZONA ROSE – Kelsey Kelleher

My name is Kelsey Kelleher and I am thrilled to be your 2018 Arizona Rose, blooming in the beautiful desert city of Phoenix, Arizona. I am twenty-five years old and I graduated with honours from Arizona State University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Design & Production with Dance and Music minors. I am proud to work in the heart of the Arizona Celtic community: the Irish Cultural Center & McClelland Library. My passion to promote Celtic culture and to build a strong young Irish network has led me to become the President of the Friends of Saint Patrick Arizona Chapter, row on Currach Team Phoenix, and dance with the Michael Patrick Gallagher School of Irish Dance. In addition, I am a volunteer for the Sunshine Acres Children’s Home Horsemanship Program. I greatly love the arts and have performed on stage, film, and even in the jousting arena at Renaissance Festivals. I dream to instil joy through performance art and my goal is to study and work in therapeutic children’s theatre in areas of post or mid-conflict. I have dreamed of being a Rose since I was twelve years old; representing Arizona is a dream come true!

BOSTON & NEW ENGLAND ROSE – SORCHA ROCHFORD

My name is Sorcha Rochford, I am 27 years old. I am honoured to represent Boston and New England in the Rose of Tralee festival. I currently live and work in Boston, I am London Irish at heart. My mother and father are both from Ballyduff, Co. Kerry. I grew up in London spending every Christmas and summer back in Kerry. I work as a Political and Advocacy Director where I manage client relationships for a host of the most influential political, brand, and non-profit organizations around the globe. I am a political strategy leader, committed to building community in an effort to develop more effective leaders from all walks of life. I completed my undergraduate degree in Political Science and History at the University of Portsmouth in England before relocating to Boston, Massachusetts. At 22 I became the youngest member of my graduating class to receive a Master’s in Political Science from Suffolk University. Irish dancing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I’ll take advantage of any opportunity to bust out the heavy shoes, be it a polka set with my nan or a hornpipe with my sister.

CARLOW ROSE – SHAUNA RAY LACEY

My name is Shauna Ray Lacey. I am 24 years old from Carlow town. I live with my partner John and our beautiful daughter Emmy. In 2014 I studied Year 1 of Beauty Therapy in CIFE. In 2015, I completed a TEFL course which assisted me to educate business entrepreneurs with pronunciation and everyday communication. I was privileged to have been an au pair for three amazingly talented kids while I lived in Madrid. I currently work in Boylesports bookmakers as deputy manager. I come from a background with strong GAA ties and am a proud owner of many county medals. I was a member of Carlow Rowing Club and rowed all over Ireland and Wales attending regattas. When I’m not working or in my heels and sash, I can be found taking my hand to screwdrivers and hammers as I’m pretty nifty at DIY. I can function surprisingly well with little or no sleep, babies give you that superpower! I am a strong advocate for breastfeeding and providing information to parents, under my voluntary involvement with local breastfeeding groups. Representing our little county of Carlow in the Rose of Tralee Festival is the most euphoric feeling in the world. I am so excited for what is to come.

CAVAN ROSE – RACHEL CUSACK

My name is Rachel Cusack, I am 26 years old and I am thrilled and honoured to be this year’s Cavan Rose. I am from Killinkere, Co. Cavan. My Mother is from Co. Kerry (she is very excited to be getting back to her home county!), my father is from Co. Cavan and I have two younger brothers. I qualified as a general nurse from Dundalk Institute of Technology in 2014 and worked in Our Lady of Lourdes hospital in Drogheda, Co. Louth before heading off to Australia for a year. I worked in a Cancer Centre in Melbourne and travelled around the beautiful country. Returning home I moved to Co. Galway and am currently working in the Galway Clinic specialising in Oncology and Palliative care. My job is my passion and I will be furthering my career in Oncology in the next year or two. I have played Gaelic football from the age of ten, and played with Killinkere Ladies until just before leaving for Oz. I received player of the year in 2011 and hope to go back playing soon. The support from everyone already has been amazing and cannot wait to make amazing memories in Tralee. I hope to do my county proud.

CHICAGO ROSE – KATIE CALLAHAN

Greetings from the Windy City! I am thrilled to represent my hometown, Chicago. In 2014, I completed my Bachelors of Arts degree, majoring in Theatre Arts and Broadcast and Electronic Communications, from Marquette University. I then went on to complete my Masters in Business Leadership. My parents are both proud Irish Americans, and they have raised my three brothers and me with the same, strong sense of pride in our Irish roots. My family’s heritage influenced me throughout my involvement in Irish film, music, dance, and theatre. I spent last year living in Dublin, working with the Gaiety School of Acting. Working at the GSA further solidified my love of the Irish Arts and has motivated me to further my passion through various Irish American organizations in Chicago. I am currently the Business Development Manager for Weekend Student Adventures, a travel organization dedicated to assisting students studying abroad in Europe. Last August, I attended the Rose of Tralee International Festival as a volunteer and saw firsthand the remarkable celebration of our Irish heritage that touches every corner of the globe. I am so excited to be returning as a Rose and could not be prouder to wear Chicago on my sash.

CLARE ROSE – CLARA BURKE

My name is Clara Burke, I am 25 years of age. I am currently teaching Physical Education and SPHE. My journey in becoming a teacher began in Tralee where I completed my undergraduate degree in Health and Leisure. I continued my studies in the University of Limerick where I completed a Professional Masters of Education in Physical Education, it was an amazing journey and I love being a teacher. Set dancing is a big passion of mine. I have been grateful to represent my county, province and Ireland on numerous occasions. Dancing has led me to many international competitions and performances across the world such as Portugal, Chicago, England etc. Other hobbies of mine are GAA sports analysis which I carry out for a men’s senior football team, travelling, fitness and walks with my boxer ‘Pogba’. I am actively involved in my community in various charity events, in particular a family run Tractor Run in Knock which has been successful for the past 10 years, aiding many different organisations. I am so proud to be representing the Banner County this year in the Rose of Tralee and am very excited to meet all the roses, Rose Escorts and the amazing Rose Buds.

CORK ROSE – ERINN O’CONNELL

Born and raised in the beautiful village of Aghabullogue, Co. Cork, I am honoured to be representing the Rebel County! At 25 years young, I am a qualified children’s and general nurse, currently working in Cork University Hospital. I am very passionate about my job and relish making a difference in people’s lives. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than helping people overcome illness and return to good health. Away from the busy wards, camogie is a real passion of mine and I enjoy both playing and coaching underage teams. I take great pride in seeing the young girls developing their camogie skills on the fields, and their interpersonal skills off the pitch. Health and wellbeing is always to the forefront of my mind and instilling positive habits in children is an integral part of this. I also enjoy going to the gym and socialising with friends. Singing is another passion of mine, having grown up in a household of singers, spearheaded by my grandfather, there was never a family event without a singsong! I cannot wait for the Festival to begin and have the experience of a life time!

DERRY ROSE – ÉMER MCKENNA

My name is Émer McKenna, I am 21 years old and I am from a small community called Slaughtneil, just outside Maghera in County Derry. I am going into my final year of university studying Cardiac Physiology at the Ulster University in Jordanstown. I’m the ‘baby’ of the house with two older brothers and two older sisters. I am a proud auntie to five nieces and two nephews. They always keep me entertained and give me an excuse to go and see the latest Disney film. One of my main passions in life is raising money for charity, in particular for cancer charities. I feel like it’s important to give back to those who have helped you in the past. When my father became ill with cancer in 2002, as a family we received so much help and support from cancer charities. This is where my love for fundraising and helping others has originated. Overall, I am so excited to share this experience with so many wonderful and inspiring women. I am absolutely honoured to represent Derry at the Rose of Tralee Festival and throughout the year. I can’t wait to see what my journey in Tralee brings and what this year holds as the Derry Rose.

DONEGAL ROSE – NIAMH DUGGAN

My name is Niamh Duggan and I’m 21. I’ve just completed my third year in NUIG, studying Irish, Psychology and Performing Arts. I’m based in Galway throughout the academic year but I call Tory Island my home. Growing up on a Gaeltacht island instilled a love of Irish culture in me. I am a fluent Irish speaker and singer. I’ve been singing since I was four and have sang at weddings/other social events, as well as competing in Irish traditional singing competitions. My joy in life is my friends and family. I love meeting new people. I love to travel and experience different cultures. I adore children and have a passion for helping people and standing up for others. I plan to satisfy both needs from volunteer work and advocacy while pursuing a career in teaching. Singing, the Irish language and Tory is a big part of me. My platform as the Donegal Rose has enabled me to promote all three, along with other things I am passionate about such as positive mental health, self-acceptance and self-belief. As a young person I like to set an example for others to be open, vocal and just to accept themselves for who they are.

DOWN ROSE – CIARA KELLY

My name is Ciara Kelly; I am 24 years old and the eldest of four. I live in Cabra – a small townland nestled in the Mourne Mountains. I graduated in 2015 from Queen’s University with an undergraduate degree in psychology. I decided to further my studies at Queens and completed a Masters degree in Atypical Child Development in 2016. During my studies I took up a part time post with Autism Initiatives, Newcastle, working as a support worker. I am now with Autism Initiatives full time, enjoying every minute of it! In my spare time I am the PRO at my local GAA club Clonduff which keeps me on my toes. I have recently developed a club app which has taken Clonduff into the modern era of technology! I also love to travel when I have the chance and love participating in the Scór recitation competition. I am honoured to be an Ambassador for County Down and will embrace every opportunity the Rose of Tralee Festival has to offer.

DUBAI ROSE – REBECCA EGAN

My name is Rebecca Egan, I’m 26 and humbled to represent Dubai. Raised in the Faithful County of Offaly, I studied Media & Gaeilge in Mary Immaculate College, where I returned to become a teacher, graduating in 2015. In 2012, as I studied Media and Theatre in Chicago, I knew I was destined to become a student of the world. I have followed my heart’s desire and now teach in Dubai. Teaching in schools so different to my professional experience in Ireland has given me the chance to rise to new challenges, and better understand how diverse communities can knit together for the better. Meeting local Emirati people and seeing the ways they are similar to the Irish, with their generosity and easy nature, has been wonderful. Other interests include writing, the arts and a worthy cause! A published writer, and creative writing workshop leader, I adore igniting my creative flair, as previously enjoyed in theatrical productions such as Les Misérables, Beauty and the Beast, CATS and many more. I love supporting Special Olympics Ireland, Darkness Into Light and children’s groups wherever I am. In the future I plan on tying my creative background with my educational experience to work at third level in a creative sphere.

DUBLIN ROSE – TANYA FEIGHERY

Hi, my name is Tanya Feighery. I’m 26 years old and from Tallaght. I graduated from DCU with a BSc honours degree in PE with Biology in 2014. I am excited to start working in Kingswood Community College as a Science and PE teacher come September. I recently qualified as a Zumba instructor and intend to hold Zumba classes in the school. Dance is one of my biggest passions. In 2008, I represented Ireland in the World Championships of Performing Arts final in L.A. where I won a gold, two silver and a bronze medal. I lived and worked in Abu Dhabi for two years. When I wasn’t in the classroom I was exploring the Arabian desert, immersing myself in Middle Eastern culture, playing GAA with Na Fianna and soaking up the sun. Upon returning to Ireland last year I got involved with the DSPCA. Animal welfare is important to me. I volunteer as often as I can mainly helping out with fundraising events. My Dublin Rose journey so far has been incredible, relaxed and enjoyable. It is an honour to represent the capital in Tralee and I look forward to all the exciting events in the run up to the festival.

FLORIDA ROSE – VICTORIA SEXTON

Hello Ireland! My name is Victoria Sexton, I’m 24 years old and absolutely elated to be your Florida Rose! I was born in Dublin and grew up on a lovely little farm in Kildare where I have the most wonderful memories of my childhood in Ireland. I used to happily muck through the fields training horses with my dad and assisted my mammy at her salon in Monasterevin by giving hand massages to her clients! We moved to the Sunshine State in 2004 to Ocala, and in 2008 we became Sister Cities with Newbridge, what luck! Currently, I am a vocal student at the University of South Florida in Tampa where I am a sister in Alpha Delta Pi, an ambassador of the School of Music and the Social Chair on the Chamber Choir Council. In my spare time I like to volunteer, go on Mission Trips to Mexico, and of course I love going to my beautiful Florida beaches! My sponsor is Kildare Farm Foods, and every Christmas I have the pleasure of coming home to sing there for Santa! I’d like to extend my deepest gratitude to everyone that has made my dream of being a Rose a reality.

GALWAY ROSE - DEIRDRE O’SULLIVAN

Dia Duit ó Chontae na Gaillimhe! My name is Deirdre O’Sullivan and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be this year’s Galway Rose. Growing up, we spent our Summers in Tralee. As my grandparents lived on Denny Street, we always felt we were more than just at the Festival – we felt we were part of the Festival. To be returning this year representing my county is a dream come true for myself, and my family. Home is Luimnagh, a small village on the edge of Lough Corrib. I currently live in Dublin and work as a primary school teacher in St Clare’s, Harold’s Cross. I am passionate about health and have been a regular volunteer with Croí since 2009. I have also taken a lead role in St Clare’s active school flag initiative – which involves “Wake Up, Shake Up” and coaching the hurling team, among other things. Life has been a whirlwind since I was announced as the 2018 Galway Rose and I have had little time for reading, music and planning my future travels. That being said, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nothing makes me happier than once again, being part of the magic!

GERMANY ROSE – GIULIA KEARNEY

My name is Giulia Kearney and I am thrilled to represent Germany as the 2018 Rose. I am half-Irish on my father’s side and German on my mother’s side. I currently live in Kiel, studying law in my second year. Besides spending time at the beach on the Baltic Sea, I enjoy cooking with my friends and pursuing my passion for singing. In 2015 I lived with family in Clontarf, Dublin and attended the Holy Faith Secondary School for a transition year. Whilst there I had the great opportunity to play the role of Judas in the Jesus Christ Superstar school musical. As long as I can remember, my life has been influenced by the privilege of experiencing both Irish and German life and culture. Being a part of the Rose of Tralee Festival gives me the chance to be an ambassador of both countries and to express how wonderful it is to be half-Irish. Being this year’s Germany Rose also gives me the opportunity to honor my Irish grandmother Patricia, who unfortunately passed away in 2016. She gave me the chance to live in Ireland for a year and always strengthened and encouraged me in what I’ve been doing.

KENTUCKY ROSE – LORRAINE GAVIN

My name is Lorraine, and I am the 2018 Kentucky Rose. I’m 25 years old, and live in Louisville. I was born in Mayo, and at age 17, after attending Cloggernagh N.S. and the Sacred Heart School in Westport, left Islandeady to study Applied Languages at UL. From then on I travelled and moved around - a lot. I’ve been lucky to visit over 50 countries, and experience living in Tenerife, Brussels, New York, Ecuador, France and Estonia. In January 2016, after five months in Tallinn, I returned home to start the job at Portwest that would bring me to Kentucky in August 2016, as part of the Enterprise Ireland G4IG program. I am now the Operations Manager at Portwest USA. Moving home was hard after six and a half years, but leaving again was even more difficult. Thankfully Kentucky has become a home away from home (just with better weather). I love travelling, languages and experiencing different cultures, as well as sharing my own. I also enjoy running, hiking and being outdoors, and I’ve been very fortunate that I can do all that here. I also recently adopted a pet hedgehog, her name is Squishy! She loves the hot weather too.

KERRY ROSE – CELINE O’SHEA

My name is Celine O Shea and I am honoured to be representing the Kingdom in the Rose of Tralee Festival! I was born in Foilmore, a parish just outside Cahersiveen, in the beautiful county Kerry. At the age of 25, I am a qualified social care worker and am currently working as a Dementia activities facilitator in St Luke’s Home, Cork. I have recently completed a postgraduate certificate in ‘Ways of Understanding Dementia and Dementia Care’ with Trinity College Dublin. I love my job and I am passionate in supporting people with dementia and their families through their journey. I Intend on continuing my career in the area of Dementia care and support. My love of travel and new experiences has brought me to countries Australia, Canada, Thailand, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Italy, Belgium and America. Equally I love remaining connected to my local community and appreciating the simple everyday things in life. Being active has always been important to me having been a member of teams for football, rowing and running over the years. I currently play tag rugby and I recently completed a climb of Carrauntoohil to raise money for St Luke’s home and Pieta house.

KILDARE ROSE – GRÁINNE CARR

My name is Gráinne Carr, I’m 23 and I’m proud to be representing the Lilywhite County of Kildare. I grew up in Ardclough village where the current Kildare County hurling champions hail from. I am the youngest in my family with two older brothers and my parents, Evan and Angela, were also born and raised in Kildare. I graduated from Maynooth University last September with a First Class Honours Law Degree and I have since completed the entrance exams to the Law Society. I currently work for Compton Solicitors and I will begin my training as a solicitor with William Fry next year. Debating and public speaking are my passion, and I was fortunate to captain my debating team to win the Concern All Ireland Debating League. We were then given the opportunity to visit Ethiopia and experience the projects carried out there by Concern Worldwide, which was undoubtedly a life changing experience. I now volunteer with Concern as an adjudicator for their schools debating league. I have a grá for Irish dancing and I competed in feiseanna until university. I continue to dance as much as possible as it is lovely to have a passion that also has the added benefit of keeping fit!

KILKENNY ROSE – HELENA HUGHES

Born and bred in the medieval capital, I’m 26 years old and honoured to be representing my county. I grew up in Kilkenny city, and since 2010 we’ve been based in the beautiful village of Kells. During the week I work as a buying assistant in Brown Thomas head office, and home to Kilkenny every weekend. I’m completing a Masters in Fashion Buying and Management part-time in DIT, having previously won the DIT Arthur Ryan Gold Medal in 2016, coming first in my postgraduate diploma class. I studied French and English in Trinity for my undergraduate degree, after which I spent a year teaching in France, but I missed Ireland and decided to move back and manage a vintage shop for about a year. I love music, I play celtic-style piano and sing as an alto in the Brown Thomas choir. I’ve been a life-long fan of the Rose of Tralee, organising viewing parties for it every August! I’m a real home-bird and I love spending time with my Kerry-born Granny and my fabulous Mammy, both of whom inspire me with their strength of character - and their love of clothes!

LAOIS ROSE – GRÁINNE HOGAN

My name is Grainne Hogan, I am 23 years of age. I’m so grateful to be representing the lovely county of Laois, I live in the great townsland of Cardtown at the foot of The Slieve Bloom Mountains. I went to school in Killanure N.S and then on to Mountrath Community School. I knew I wanted a career in farming so I got my place in Gurteen Agricultural College studying the beef and sheep side of things. I now work for Noel and Breda Dooley on their dairy farm, milking cows and doing general farm work. I‘ve always had a love for farming and animals, my world revolves around both. I love attending agricultural shows during the summer months. I am the proud aunty of the most amazing little boy Frankie. He was born in 2015 with Spina Bifida and he has just been an absolute inspiration to us all. No matter what is going on around him he has the biggest grin. Family is very important to me and I live with my Mam , Brother and Nana. I’m lucky to have grown up around very independent women so nothing fazes me, you’ll always hear the phrase “ah sure it’ll be grand” being said in our house!

LEITRIM ROSE – IMELDA SCALLY

Hello, my name is Imelda Scally, I’m 26 years old and I am absolutely delighted to be representing the Lovely Leitrim as their Rose in Tralee! I am originally from Roscommon where I grew up in a small village called Loughglynn. I have very fond memories of playing GAA with my two brothers Brendan and Christopher and my only sister Ann-Marie for our local club. I completed a BB in Marketing with PR & Event Management in Sligo IT. After I graduated I was fortunate enough to attain a job in hospitality and from there the interest and passion grew for weddings and events. I am currently working in The Landmark Hotel in Carrick on Shannon as the Wedding Sales Manager. This is my absolute dream job! My biggest career achievement to date is winning Ireland’s best Wedding Coordinator in February of this year –I am so humbled to have won. Something I am really passionate about and I always have faith in is that positivity is key! My vision as the Leitrim Rose is to inspire young women to have confidence and belief in themselves! I am so excited for my Rose journey and I cannot wait to see you all in Tralee!

LIMERICK ROSE - Hazel Ní Chathasaigh

I am a 23 year old physiotherapist currently working at University Hospital Limerick. A proud Gaeilgeoir, I attended Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh and then went on to study physiotherapy at the University of Limerick. I have a particular interest in musculoskeletal physiotherapy and have been fortunate to have a recent piece of research in this area published. With a background in competitive indoor and open water swimming, I represented the University of Limerick at both intervarsities and the Irish Open Championships. From a young age, I have been an avid Munster rugby supporter and I enjoy the atmosphere of Thomond Park on matchday. I play tag rugby in leagues throughout the year and enjoy running and swimming. Other interests include Pilates, aerobics and travel. I am both delighted and honoured to be representing Limerick at the Rose of Tralee International Festival 2018.

LONDON ROSE – GRAINNE HAWKES

I am Gráinne Hawkes, 26 years old and am delighted to represent the vibrant London-Irish community. I work for a global corporate law firm in the City of London. I have a first class honours degree in Law from Trinity College Dublin, a masters in European Law from the College of Europe, Bruges and an Msc in Business and Law from the University of Law, London. As a lifeguard in the National Aquatic Centre throughout school and university, I have been responsible for the lives of US Synchronised Swimming, New Zealand Rugby and Dublin Football teams. I spent my first three weeks as a qualified solicitor working in a refugee camp with European Lawyers in Lesvos. I enjoy spending time with my family and we travel to Lourdes as volunteers every year with my 98 year old grandmother. I’ve been fortunate to represent Ireland as a facilitator for the European Youth Parliament at conferences across Europe and Africa. I love disco spinning classes, a day at the races and running a half marathon at least once a year. I like singing, baking and using my languages while travelling. I enjoy supporting my parents’ native Tipperary and Limerick and have played in the European GAA Championships and the Asian Gaelic Games.

LONGFORD ROSE – LOREN KATIE LOGAN

Hi everyone, my name is Loren Katie Logan and I am 22 years old. In recent months, I completed my studies in St. Patrick’s College DCU and have qualified as a Primary School Teacher. I love travelling and believe that travel itself is a great educator. I have been extremely fortunate to have seen parts of the world from a young age - but there’s plenty left to see! My hobbies include football, drama, singing and dancing. I began studying dance at age four in Shawbrook School of Dance. I completed all grades and performed both nationally and internationally with the touring company ‘Shawbrook Youth Dance’. I have played for my local GAA club Mostrim Ladies for many years and as a young girl I played soccer, representing both my town and county. I have always been an active member within my community and I enjoy being involved with fundraising events. I also volunteer with the Midland’s Simon Community. My late Grandfather always said I would make a perfect Rose, so I’m delighted to be partaking in the festival this year in his honour. I am truly humbled and proud to represent Longford in the 2018 Rose of Tralee Festival. I can only hope to do my county proud!

LOUTH ROSE – ANNMARIE DUFFY

My name is AnnMarie Duffy and I am 27 years old. I am a true “Louth girl” with a parent from each of the two main Louth towns of Dundalk and Drogheda. I was born and raised in Dundalk and work as a Speech and Language Therapist in Drogheda. I work between a health centre and a specific language unit in a local primary school. My role involves working with children with a range of speech, language and communication needs. I enjoy the creative opportunities and fun that comes with working alongside children. I love to run and I am an active member of my local running club - North East Runners Athletics Club. Running has always been a big part of my family life, with my parents being lifelong athletes. Running allows me to keep fit, challenge myself and unwind. I also enjoy Irish dancing, spending time with family and friends, trying new food, reading and my hot water bottle! I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to represent the Wee County in this year’s festival and I am excited for all that lies ahead.

LUXEMBOURG ROSE – AMBER CREAN

My name is Amber Crean, I’m 26 years old and I am delighted to be the 2018 Luxembourg Rose. I was born in Dublin and lived in Wicklow and Meath before moving “Wesht” to Galway. Even though I consider myself a Galway Girl, I had always planned to move abroad once I completed my Bachelor of Commerce degree and diploma in French at NUI Galway. So, with my two dogs in tow, I moved to the beautiful “Grand Duchy” in 2014 and it has been my home away from home ever since. Luxembourg is such a unique place but what I love most about living and working here is how multicultural it is. I work as a financial auditor with Ernst & Young where I am also involved with our Irish graduate recruitment initiative. When I am not working/protecting the capital markets, you’ll find me on the pitch as the Luxembourg Ladies Gaelic football coach or volunteering with our Club na nÓg. In my spare time I love to travel as far and as often as possible. I am a qualified emergency first responder and rescue scuba diver. I have a deep grá for boats and water sports as well as animals, art and baking.

MAYO ROSE – RACHEL GIBBONS

My name is Rachel Gibbons. I am a 24 year old Accounts Assistant from a small village called Carnacon in Mayo, and I am living and working in Galway City. I work for JJ Rhatigan & Co Building Contractors as an accounts assistant. I hope to start my professional accounting exams soon and become a fully qualified accountant. I am the youngest of four and have one nephew who is the apple of my eye. We are a very close family and are the best of friends. Our whole family are huge supporters of both our local club, Ballintubber and County Mayo GAA. I am a huge follower of the country music scene and most weekends I will be found at a social dance. I am truly honoured to be selected as the Mayo Rose and to represent my county as it is something I never thought I could achieve. My aim for the year is to promote mental health awareness and to make some lifelong friends. I cannot wait to meet all my fellow Roses and have the time of my life at The Rose of Tralee Festival. I will wear the Mayo Rose sash with pride and joy, and I hope to make my county proud.

MEATH ROSE - SAOIRSE MCGRATH

Hello my name is Saoirse McGrath, I am 23 years old and come from Skryne, a rural parish where GAA takes centre stage and the hill of Tara is a stone’s throw away. I am in my third year of a BSc in General Nursing in DCU. Most of my training is completed in Beaumont hospital in Dublin, one of the busiest hospitals in the country. I wish to pursue a Masters and become an Advanced Nurse Practitioner specializing in cardiac care following my primary degree. Sport is paramount in my life and I have played football and ran for Meath, and have two Leinster athletics medals in the 800m. I am running the mini marathon this year in aid of Pieta House, a charity I hold close to my heart. I am a sociable person and love meeting new people and enjoy the company of others. I have a passion for music and have a particular love of artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Simon and Garfunkel .. The golden oldies! I look forward to what my year as the Meath Rose will bring! I am excited about all of the people I will meet along the way and the memories I am about to make!

MELBOURNE ROSE – SUZIE JACKSON

My name is Suzie Jackson I’m 27, born in Boston on Valentine’s day, my parents always thought I was destined to be a ‘Rose’. We moved to Ireland when I was four years old. My Dad was born in New York but grew up in Cork where he met my mom, a Cork native. I grew up in Dublin and Cork completing my Nursing Degree at UCC. I began Nursing in the Mercy Hospital Cork, before heading off to Melbourne three years ago with a group of friends. I’m now nursing in the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, the number one Trauma Centre in Victoria. I have fallen in love with the vibrant, beautiful, magic of Melbourne. My family says that I could have applied for the Rose of Boston, New York, Dublin, Cork but I’m thrilled to represent Melbourne, voted most liveable city eight years running! My sport is basketball, I play for a local Melbourne team and represented Cork at underage level. Travel is my passion having visited the US, Europe, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, New Zealand and of course Australia. I help out at organised clean-ups at St Kilda beach, as plastics in the ocean are causing serious damage to marine life around the globe.

MONAGHAN ROSE – HANNAH MOONEY

My name is Hannah Mooney, I am 24 and proud to say I am from Co. Monaghan, from a small parish called Aughnamullen East in the middle of Monaghan. I have two older brothers, who sometimes act more like bouncers and it’s safe to say I’m a Daddy’s girl. I am in my final year of Adult Nursing in Queens University, Belfast, and will soon qualify as a Registered Nurse, following in the footsteps of my mum. Having taken the scenic route to my Degree, I am a strong advocate for alternative pathways in further education, nothing is impossible and often the scenic route has the best views!! Myself and my family are community focused, with music playing a huge part in our lives, as well as GAA and fitness in general. I believe in positive body image regardless of shape or size; fitness and health are extremely important to me on both a personal and professional level, especially in an era where young women can be fixated on their perception of the ideal body rather than health and wellbeing. Overall, I am a very outgoing, friendly and chatty person who enjoys the simple things in life such as spending time with family and friends.

NEWCASTLE/GATESHEAD ROSE – CIARA HARVIE

I am 20 years old and live in the beautiful south east coast of Scotland. Since leaving school in 2015, I took a risk and followed my dream to become a classical singer. My passion for singing has given me many life changing opportunities, such as appearing on The Voice UK 2017 and representing the UK at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to support charitable events, most recently attending the “Art-football” campaign in Russia. Its aim is to support the ideals of Kindness and Humanity and raise funds guaranteeing treatment of seriously ill children. Closer to home, my spare time is spent visiting schools to share my experiences and inspire children to nurture their talents and follow their dreams. I’m a great believer that you can do anything if you put your mind to it! My mum is a proud Cork woman and I have many happy memories of family visits to my large extended family in Cork City. I am extremely proud of my Irish heritage and delighted to be joining all of the other Roses in Tralee this year!

NEWFOUNDLAND & LABRADOR ROSE – BRIDGETTE ABBOTT

Summer is coming, and I can’t wait to lock my classroom doors and head to Ireland to celebrate my heritage - which originates from County Kilkenny, Wexford and North Tipperary from both the Cuff and Butler families. I am a native of Musgrave Harbour, Newfoundland & Labrador, where I was raised as the youngest of eight children. I am a twenty seven year old Special Education Teacher, and am heading into a Master’s Degree in Leadership Studies. I am an avid volunteer, and am involved with numerous non-profit organizations and charities. I have recently become a “Big Sister” through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and I enjoy spending quality time with my little sister and keeping her active in the community. I have been awarded both the Queen’s (England) Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers by the Governor General of Canada in recognition of my continued volunteer efforts. Leadership and teamwork are also an area of interest, and I am involved with a number of boards and societies. I have a heart for travel, and have visited fourteen different countries - teaching in the United Kingdom for four months along the way. I love being able to help mould young minds, inspire, and watch the students learn and grow.

NEW YORK ROSE – SARAH WARD

My name is Sarah, I’m a 22 year old born and raised New Yorker! I grew up in the Hudson Valley, about an hour north of NYC. My father hails from Brooklyn, raised by proud Co. Donegal and Co. Monaghan native parents. My mom grew up in Waterford City, and moved to New York to work as a nurse. I spent every summer of my childhood running around Dunmore East with my sister, brother, and clan of cousins, and it’s still my favorite place in the world. I attended a small State University outside of Rochester NY, where I studied Biology and Psychology. While working as a nursing assistant in a hospital during my summers off, I realized that nursing was my true calling! Just two weeks after graduating with my Biology degree, I began an intensive twelve month nursing program. I am now a graduated Registered Nurse, and I could not be more proud and excited to join this profession. When I’m not collecting college degrees, I love cooking and baking, going on hikes with my family, watching the NY Rangers, and planning my next travel adventure. My ultimate goal is to continue my education and specialize in women’s health and family planning.

NEW ZEALAND ROSE – JOLENE MCLAUGHLIN

Kia Ora from the New Zealand Rose! My name is Jolene McLaughlin, and I am a 25-year old musculoskeletal physiotherapist reigning from the hills of Donegal. I made the big move to New Zealand in 2015 after graduating from University College Dublin, and have been exploring the peaks and valleys of the beautiful country ever since I stepped off the plane. I have settled in Wellington, the “world’s coolest little capital” and am in love with the close-knit community and laid-back lifestyle it offers. I work as a senior physiotherapist with Habit, and I feel very fortunate to have such an engaging and rewarding profession. I am passionate about helping others and creating a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of society. I am forever seeking new challenges and adventures, and I enjoy hiking, camping, running, skiing and cycling. I am an active member of the Wellington GAA and, when I am not playing myself, I am often found helping out with injuries on the sideline. I am extremely proud to represent New Zealand, my home away from home. Being part of the Rose of Tralee has been a real character-building and fun experience so far, and I am really looking forward to the festival in Tralee.

NORTH CAROLINA ROSE – HANNAH VIRGA

Welcome to a glimpse of my hometown! My name is Hannah Virga and I am a 25-year graduate student from North Carolina who could not be more honored to represent the great state of North Carolina! I graduated from East Carolina University in 2015 with a degree in Quantitative Economics and decided to further my education and obtain my Master’s in Business and Human Resources from the University of Richmond. If I could be a career student, I most definitely would! I love learning and enjoyed every second of college! I currently work at Capital One Bank as a fraud analyst and love it! I am a coffee connoisseur and would love to open and run my own coffee shop one day. I enjoy spending time exploring my city for local coffee shops and festivals. I spend as much time running as possible and love trying all the new “hip” gyms. My mother was born and raised in Ireland and moved to the United States when she met my father, a true Romeo and Juliet story. I cannot wait to wear my sash in Tralee in just a few more short weeks!

OFFALY ROSE – KATIE KEHOE

My name is Katie Kehoe and I am 20 years old. I was born and bred in Tullamore, County Offaly. I am currently studying Primary School Teaching in Mary Immaculate College Limerick and will be going into third year come September. My life mostly centres around my family, friends and GAA. I play both Camogie and Gaelic football for my club and I also play with Offaly Ladies Football team. I am very lucky to play along side two of my three sisters both at club and county level. As well as training every day of the week I am kept busy helping to coach the underage football teams and I am currently managing Tullamore Minor ladies. I love being outdoors and being active and so I fill my spare time with walks and cycles with friends or family! To relax I love sitting down with popcorn and watching a good film or reading a good book. Overall I would say I am a happy and positive person who looks out for others and tries to make the best of life! I am both excited and proud to be this year’s Offaly Rose and I am looking forward to seeing what this year brings!

OHIO ROSE – Erin Stefancin

I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and celebrities like Tom Hanks and Lebron James. I live in Ohio’s capital city, Columbus, where I am a first-year master’s student. I am 22 years old, studying Speech-Language Pathology at The Ohio State University, and hope to work with adults in an acute care hospital setting, specializing in stroke and traumatic brain injury. My maternal grandparents Sean and Agnes (McGrath) Fox, hail from Cong, Co. Mayo, and paternal grandparents Bob and Grace (Toolis) Stefancin from Achill. One of my favorite traditions growing up has been participating annually in Cleveland’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, the largest in Ohio with a 176-year tradition. I have enjoyed singing since I was three years old, with a love of singing songs like “Lady of Knock” at my sister’s wedding and “Whiskey in the Jar” at the pub with my family. I also have a passion for volunteering with those with physical and cognitive disabilities through adaptive sports and games, like floor hockey and wheelchair-friendly bowling! In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my friends and family, doing yoga, baking, cooking, and hiking with my dog, Brady!

PERTH ROSE - LAURA CANNON

G’day from down under, my name is Laura Cannon, 25 years young and originally from the beautiful hills of Donegal. I am now living in my second home Perth, Western Australia. I am delighted and very proud to become the 2018 Perth Rose of Tralee. Since moving to sunny Perth I have gained invaluable learning and development opportunities. I am privileged to have been afforded the opportunity to nurse in Oncology and Palliative Care which has opened my eyes as to how precious each life is and how vital it is for us to enjoy each day to the full. Since March I have begun working in Coronary Care and Intensive Care, I am enjoying all of the learning and skill development unique to this area of nursing. I enjoy the relaxed lifestyle in Perth, I am living by the beach nestled beside a small town called Fremantle which has a has a beautiful port constructed by Irish man Charles Yelverton O’Connor in the 1880s. Fremantle has a very rich Irish history which I have enjoyed exploring. I am looking forward to seeing my family in August and meeting all of the other Roses. I hope I will make everyone proud as the 2018 Perth Rose of Tralee.

PHILADELPHIA ROSE – KATIE KEENAN

My name it Katie Keenan, I am 22 years old and so excited to be representing Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the 2018 Rose of Tralee Festival. I am a senior studying Communications at Temple University, but I have been spending this summer interning at a casting agency in New York City. I am a passionate traveler and have been fortunate to have lived in five different cities in the past five years. I enjoy cooking, photography, acting, and spending time with family and friends. In my spare time I help run a non-profit organization that I co-founded in honor of my beautiful sister, Jordan. “Jordy’s Cause” raises funds to help sick children and their families in our local community. This August will be my second time visiting Ireland. I can trace my ancestry back to County Mayo and County Tyrone.

QUEENSLAND ROSE – SARAH GRIFFIN-BREEN

I am 27 and from Brisbane, Queensland. I have been fortunate to call Manly, a small bayside village in Brisbane home for my entire life. Manly is one of my favourite places in Brisbane. It is a truly beautiful area and you can often find me out and about enjoying the weekend markets, walking along the esplanade or enjoying a picnic in the park. My mum is from Athea in Limerick, she immigrated to Australia in 1979 after meeting my dad in London. My dad also has Irish heritage, his maternal grandparents are from County Tyrone and Clare and his paternal grandparents are from County Tipperary and Galway. I am a Lawyer having graduated in 2016 with a Bachelor of Law (Honours) from the Queensland University of Technology. I also hold a Bachelor of Biomedical Science. I have visited Ireland three times, the first when I was only seven years of age and though quite young, I immediately fell in love with the country and people and I have cherished every visit since. During my visits to Ireland, I developed a strong penchant for various Irish foods like Barry’s Tea, Tayto Crisps, Irish barmbrack and Irish soda bread, the latter of which is delicious when given an Australian flare – a little Vegemite.

ROSCOMMON ROSE – EIMEAR REYNOLDS

I am Eimear Reynolds and I am 27 years old. I come from the picturesque village of Rooskey in County Roscommon along the banks of the Shannon. Music is my great passion in life and I graduated from Dublin Institute of Technology Conservatory of Music and Drama with a Bachelors degree in Music with Performance in 2015. I have been fortunate to build a career in performing throughout Ireland and abroad. I love travelling and meeting new people and consider myself lucky that music gives me the opportunity to do both. I have taught music to adults and children for many years and also work with local business in an initiative set up through our local arts centre called ‘The Office Choir’. My brother and I established the Roscommon Solstice Choir of which I am musical director. There are 150 members and together we have won prestigious awards nationally and internationally for our work within the community and contribution to voluntary arts. I am very excited and privileged to represent my county at the Rose of Tralee Festival this year and hope to do everyone proud. My wish is to continue to help develop and instil confidence within young people and showcase and nurture their skills, especially in rural Ireland.

SAN FRANCISCO ROSE – ANNIE POWERS

My name is Annie Powers, I am twenty-six years old and I am from San Francisco, California. My faith, family, friends, and Irish heritage are the most important things in my life. Being Irish is something that I truly cherish. My mother’s grandparents immigrated to San Francisco from Castleisland in Kerry, and my father’s grandparents immigrated to New York from Lismore in Waterford. I am from a big, Irish Catholic family, with three brothers and four sisters. I grew up Irish Step Dancing with my four sisters for Greene Academy of Irish Dance. At almost every family gathering, we play instruments, tell stories, sing and dance in the typical fashion of The Old Country. In addition to Irish Dance, I grew up playing volleyball, which I continued playing throughout my college career. I graduated from the University of San Diego with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and a minor in Philosophy. I currently work in Business Development at Salesforce. My hobbies include spending time with family and friends, singing, running, volunteering, playing volleyball, dancing, and going to the beach! I feel extremely blessed to represent San Francisco as a strong, proud Irish woman.

SLIGO ROSE – JULIE PATTERSON

I am honoured to represent my beautiful home county of Sligo, “The Land of Heart’s Desire.” I am 27 years old, raised on a farm, alongside my brothers, and a nature lover with a deep appreciation for the outdoors. I enjoy hiking in my free time and Sligo is the perfect place to get out and explore the mountains. I always wanted to work with children and I am proud to say that I am a passionate primary school teacher in Malahide, Dublin. This year I am taking a career break and I am delighted to use this opportunity to pursue my dream of illustrating a children’s story that I have written, and ultimately publishing my first book. I am a creative lady who loves drawing, painting and poster design too! I love leading an active lifestyle and I was taught to appreciate good, honest food from a young age. I also like to volunteer and have done so both locally and abroad, as I believe it’s important to give your time to others. I consider myself to be an optimistic person and I feel that a positive attitude is no heavy load to carry with you wherever you go!

SOUTH AUSTRALIA ROSE – EMILIE HELBIG

My name is Emilie Helbig, I’m 25 years old and from Adelaide, South Australia. My Irish ancestry originates from Newry, County Down where my great grandparents Patrick and Bridget Larkin resided. My family has always held our Irish heritage in high regard, in particular our love of Irish dance. My grandmother participated in the Irish dancing community in Adelaide, passing on her love to her daughters who then opened up their own studio, ‘The Newry Studio of Irish dancing’, named after the town from which our family originated. Their love was passed onto me and for the last 21 years I have revelled in everything Irish dance all over Australia and the world, and have recently moved my passion into the art of teaching. I am also very passionate about social justice issues and the importance of having strong and powerful women in our community to help others raise up to the challenges that life gives us. I have found that my contribution to this is through education, as I find so much joy in the benefits that it can bring to those who receive it, and I hope to one day change the world in my own way through dance and school education.

SYDNEY ROSE – CAITLIN MACINANTE

My name is Caitlin Macinante and I’m delighted to be representing Sydney! I’m 26 years old and live in Medowie with my fiancé Barry. We have just finished building our dream home, a big shed on 2.5 acres, complete with lazy koalas and kangaroos hopping around the back yard. I work full-time as a Business Development Manager while studying a Bachelor of Primary Education part-time. I’m passionate about inclusive education and closing the gap in indigenous educational outcomes, with a goal to one day become a Principal. Music is an important part of my life, I play guitar, piano and sing. If I’m not working or studying, you will find Barry and I camping with our mates. The late Steve Irwin was my hero and I grew up catching snakes and countless other creatures, I feel completely at home in the bush. My Grandmother Mary hails from Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny and my late Grandfather Jimmy from Castletownroche, Co. Cork. They emigrated to Australia in 1961, shortly followed by the arrival of my mother who went on to become the 1980 Sydney Rose. It is a rare privilege to share the same role she did 38 years ago, I am truly blessed to be the Sydney Rose and am excited for what’s to come!

TEXAS ROSE – KIMBERLY CORSER

Howdy, my name is Kimberly Corser and I am from the great state of Texas! I am a 22 year old student at Texas A&M University and will be graduating next spring with a Bachelors Degree in Economics. I plan on starting my own non-profit someday to benefit families of cancer patients both financially and emotionally. Having lost my father after a 13-year battle with cancer it is a passion near and dear to my heart. In the meantime I am working as a bartender at the local Irish pub, O’Bannon’s Tap house! I love that my job allows me to meet people from all walks of life and I have created many new friendships while being able to enjoy Irish music and culture every day. My Irish roots come from my father’s mother through Co. Donegal. One of my biggest interests is Irish dancing and has been since I was seven. I first saw Irish dancers at a family reunion in Ireland and immediately fell in love. I have competed in the World Championships several times and plan to take my teachers exam once I graduate from college. I am honored to be the 2018 Texas Rose of Tralee, and I am looking forward to this amazing adventure in Tralee!

TIPPERARY ROSE – LAURA DURKAN

My name is Laura Durkan. I am 26 years old and I am from Clonmel. I am the eldest of three fanatical Tipperary supporters. Although, as our Dad is an exile from the wild west of Mayo, we always keep a fond eye out for the folks in green and red during the summer. I attended UCC where I graduated with a degree in Pharmacy and then completed my Masters in the RCSI in Dublin. I currently work for Pfizer in Kildare making medicines for patients all over the world. When I get some free time I head for the hills, or the coast, or anywhere outside in nature. We have some of the best scenery in the world here in Ireland and I never get tired of embarking on adventures to discover it. I love playing tennis and proudly represent my local club in leagues and competition events throughout the summer. I love baking and get very competitive at our Bake Off competitions at work. I am honoured to be able to represent Tipperary at this year’s Rose Festival and I hope to do the Premier County and all my family and friends around the country proud.

TORONTO ROSE – CARLY MCGRATH

My name is Carly McGrath, I am 25 years old and I am humbled to represent Toronto in this year’s Rose of Tralee Festival. My parents are native Irish, they emigrated to Toronto in the late 80’s. When I was two, we moved back home to Cooley, Co. Louth. Having the shore at my doorstep and a quad to hop on in the evening was my ideal way of growing up! In 2014, I received my Bachelor of Arts International Honours Degree from the National University of Maynooth. Throughout my studies, I had the pleasure of studying abroad in the University of Vienna, Austria, where I specialized in Economics and Cultural Studies. Shortly after I graduated, I decided to follow in my parent’s footsteps and call Toronto home, again. I work within the financial services industry in Investor Relations at Citco (Canada) Inc. I love staying active and playing sports. I play GAA for Durham Robert Emmets GFC and I am also the clubs first female referee. In addition, I train and compete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, to say I am passionate about it would be an understatement! I am very excited for the upcoming festival in Tralee, August can’t come quick enough!

TYRONE ROSE - ELLEN CAMPBELL

My name is Ellen Campbell, I’m 22 years of age and live in the townland of Stewartstown, County Tyrone, where there is a rich community ethos that is very proud of their Irish heritage and the local GAA club Stewartstown Harps. I graduated in July 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Music from Queen’s University, Belfast and currently work as a Peripatetic Music Teacher and Performer, working alongside music companies such as ‘Live Music Now’ helping others with the power of music through performance. I have been fortunate within my musical career and embraced each opportunity that has been presented to me such as participating in masterclasses with Ingrid Surgenor and the Ulster Orchestra in the Grand Opera House, Belfast. As well as my love for classical music, I also have a great affection for Irish Traditional Music and have recently taken up playing the banjo. I always admired my late father playing this beautiful instrument and wanted to keep the family tradition going. Being Irish is a wonderful treasure and I am so honoured that I will be representing my home of Ballygittle, the town of Stewartstown and all of County Tyrone at this year’s Rose of Tralee Festival. For me, this is a dream come true.

WASHINGTON DC ROSE – MICHELLE KARKOS

Hello from the Capital of the United States! My name is Michelle Karkos and I am 26 years old. I am truly honored to be representing my favorite place, Washington DC. I currently work as an analyst for the Department of Justice where I look at various crimes for trends and patterns. I’m looking to attend graduate school next fall and continue my career in law enforcement. Before starting work, I received my undergraduate degrees from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I studied psychology and sociology with my concentration being in criminal justice. While attending college, I was a collegiate rower. Being a rower taught me various life lessons that I still use in my career today! I did various sports besides rowing growing up. I was a swimmer, Irish dancer, soccer player and runner. My family actually still does various running races throughout the year together. While it’s always for a good cause, my siblings and I still like to compete to see who is the fastest. I can’t wait to meet you all in Tralee!

WATERFORD ROSE – KIRSTEN MATE MAHER

Hello, my name is Kirsten Mate Maher. I am 21 years old and I’m the 2018 Waterford Rose. I love singing and sing with the island of Ireland Peace Choir which was formed in the wake of The Omagh bombing Co. Tyrone 1998. The choir is mostly made up of people from Waterford, Belfast, Carlow, Cork, Gorey, Kilkenny and Dublin! We have performed together in The Garden of Remembrance, The Aviva Stadium, Stormont and many other fantastic places. I also gig with my friend Calum in my spare time just for fun. I play hockey with Waterford Ladies 1st team and we are currently competing at Munster Division 1 level! I have such a big love for animals, especially horses and dogs. I have been horse riding since I was five years old and in the future I hope to own many horses, dogs maybe even some sheep and goats too! In September I look forward to attending Waterford Institute of Technology to study Multimedia and Application Development. I hope to pursue a career in computer programming!

WESTMEATH ROSE – LEANNE QUINN

I am originally from Coralstown but currently reside in Newmarket on Fergus “The Rose Village” in Co. Clare. I turned 25 this summer and am the eldest of five siblings. With an interest in people and behaviours, I studied BSc Psychology at the University of Limerick and graduated in 2016 before moving to Dublin to work in Management Consulting at Accenture, Ireland. Throughout my time at university, I also lived in Canada, Scotland and New York. Finding a grá for health and fitness while in Dublin, I qualified as a fitness instructor and personal trainer and decided to return to UL to further my studies. Currently in my postgraduate degree, MSc Sports Performance, I’m very excited to be working with Munster Rugby for my thesis. With a flair for public speaking and powerlifting, I hope to lift some spirits at this year’s festival and throughout my year as the 2018 Westmeath Rose.

WEXFORD ROSE – SAOIRSE WALSH

My name is Saoirse Walsh, 27 years old and am thrilled to be representing Wexford, the Sunny South East. I studied my BA in Music and History of Art at University College Dublin and in 2012, followed my dream of moving to London to complete my Masters Degree at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. I now work as a Marketing Executive for Collier Webb who specialise in restoration and historical interiors. Music is one of my great loves and I was the recipient of the National Excellence Award for Music Performance. I have performed with the Irish Youth Choir and the City of London Choir and this has allowed me to make new friends, fundraise for the Voluntary Service Overseas, record albums and perform at the Royal Albert Hall and Westminster Cathedral. I am passionate about volunteering with charitable organisations and am currently involved with the Irish Heritage Association and Plan Ireland. I am also carrying on my family’s tradition of running the Dublin Marathon while raising money for MS Ireland and the LauraLynn Hospice. I first visited the Rose of Tralee Festival when I was three months old and it has always been a dream to return as the Wexford Rose.

WICKLOW ROSE – LORNA MALLICK

My name is Lorna Mallick and I am 22 years old and honoured to be chosen as this year’s Wicklow Rose in the 2018 Rose of Tralee International Festival. I am living in a small village in the sunny South East county of Wicklow called Tinahely, where I was born and raised. I studied Gaeilge and Geography as my undergraduate degree in St. Patrick’s College in Drumcondra. I then went on to follow my dream career and have just completed the Professional Masters of Education with Hibernia College to qualify as a primary school teacher. I have just been offered my first full-time job for September! I live with my Mam Fiona, my Dad Joe, my older brother Colin, my Grandad Pat, and my two cute dogs, Benson and Hooch. My hobbies include playing the piano, GAA, working with children and travelling. I’ve travelled to many different places around the world but the highlight was travelling to Uganda in 2015 to work as a primary school teacher and a short road trip around America last summer. I hope to do my town and the Garden County proud as an ambassador as I begin the exciting journey to Tralee.

YORKSHIRE ROSE – ALANA GALLAGHER

Dia Duit! My name is Alana Gallagher, I am 20 years old and originally from Ballybofey, Co. Donegal. In 2016 I moved to York to pursue my dream of becoming an Occupational Therapist at York St John University. I am now in my second year of the course and loving every minute of it! I also work part time in a neurological rehabilitation centre to further my knowledge and experience. I am an avid Gaelic footballer and upon my move to England joined the Gaelic football club ‘York Éireannach’. I am proud to have added to their development and progress. I am also vice secretary of the first ever Yorkshire Ladies County Board, and I am very proud to have been part of the development as both a committee member and as a player on the Yorkshire Ladies County team, having recently won two all British Titles. The Gaelic team has developed a close knit community of people from Ireland, people with Irish heritage and even people with no Irish connection who enjoy the sense of community. I have also attended many of the York Irish association’s events. I’m really looking forward to Tralee, meeting my fellow Roses and members of the Irish Community from all over the world.