TraleeToday.ie’s coverage of the Rose of Tralee International Festival is brought to you by AIB Tralee…
AN appearance on Radio Kerry this morning, followed by a photoshoot in the Town Park was how Maggie McEldowney began her engagements as the new Rose of Tralee.
The 27 year old from Chicago may not have got much sleep last night, but it didn’t show as she chatted and posed for photos in a sunny Town Park. So in the cold light of day, how was she feeling?
“It’s been absolutely surreal, slowly but surely things are beginning to sink in. The energy in the area has been phenomenal. It’s already been an phenomenal experience and it’s only day one,” said Maggie, who works as the Director of Development at Marist High School and is passionate about raising money for families who could not otherwise afford Catholic education.
This is her second time in Tralee, having previously visited on a family trip four years ago.
“We drove through [Tralee] on a family trip when we made it through 12 counties. We had lunch in the Brogue Inn. It was gorgeous, it was a rainy day so we didn’t do too much travelling. The people of Tralee are just outstanding. I feel everywhere we go, people are saying hello, it’s just an open community. It especially means so much to me for my parents. They’ve been welcomed with open arms. They had breakfast at a friend of a friend. They said ‘come on over for breakfast’. That means so much to me because while I’m here I’m not able to spend time with them and I want to know they’re looked after. The people of Tralee opened their doors to them and it means the world to me,” she said.
Maggie entered the Chicago Rose competition twice before striking third time lucky this year. She entered first at the suggestion of her aunt and didn’t make it, but her interest was piqued.
“Once I began to learn more about the Festival, the difference it can make and the foundations it raises awareness for and the international impact these women have, I just drove head first into it. The second time around wasn’t my year, there are a lot of really talented women in the city of Chicago. I thought there are really good things I can do with this, so I gave it one more go and it worked out,” she said.
She had special words of praise for the Rosebuds and spoke to her Rosebud, Kate Fitzsimons on the phone this morning.
“Her energy every day when I saw her, her face just lit up and I know I speak on behalf of all the Roses when I say the Rosebuds are the reason we kept going. They bring a whole new energy and dynamic to the Festival,” she said.
Maggie’s boyfriend is Jim Fitzgibbon who couldn’t make it over to Tralee, but sent a recorded message to her last night on the TV show.
“He is just lovely. He’s been supporting me as best he can. He’s not one for the limelight, so I knew what it took to get up there and say that for me,” said Maggie.
Maggie spent a lot of time in the Park patiently posing for the photographers and with children, before heading off for a day of engagements. Scroll down for photos…