PHOTOS: Meet The Rose Of Tralee Contestants (Part One)

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THERE’S less than a week to go until the 64 Rose of Tralee 2017 contestants arrive in town for a week they’ll never forget. Maybe it’s time to find out more about them. Meet the first 32 Roses who will tell you about themselves…

Abu Dhabi Rose – Niamh Kelly


My name is Niamh Kelly. I am a 26-year-old general nurse living and working in Abu Dhabi.

I originally hail from Ballyea, Co. Clare. After completing my leaving certificate in St. Flannans College Ennis, I attended University of Limerick for four wonderful years and graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

I pride my college days as the best of my life as I met my best friends and gained a huge amount of nursing experience working in the hospitals in the Mid-West.

Myself and some of my nursing colleagues moved to Surrey, the beautiful countryside just south of London where we continued our nursing for a further two years. In 2017 we decided to seek pastures greener – or rather sandier! – and moved to Abu Dhabi.

Having been lucky enough to gain employment at the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi – a state of the art hospital which offers the best in 21st century healthcare for the emirate states.

Presently, I work in the neurology unit. Moving to Abu Dhabi has been an amazing experience. Populated with a rich Irish ex-pat population, home is never too far away. The locals have welcomed us into their community with open arms and have made the transition to the desert a very smooth process!

My hobbies include sports and exercise, I play Gaelic football with Abu Dhabi Na Fianna. I also enjoy travelling and meeting new people and living here in the Middle East has allowed me to add several stamps to my passport, it being one of the world’s greatest stopovers.

I am a big music fan and I love music festivals and concerts. Of course, I love being Irish and everything about our wonderful heritage. I am overwhelmingly honored to be crowned the 2017 Abu Dhabi Rose.

Arizona Rose – Lauren Koll


Hello! I’m Lauren Koll and I was selected as the 2017 Arizona Rose, an incredible honor.  I am 23 years old and received my Bachelors of Science degree in Education and Human Sciences from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln.

I live and work in Chandler, Arizona and am proud to call this amazing place my home. I am committed to creating a positive impact to the communities that I live and work in.

While attending St. Francis High School in Sacramento, California, I worked in a local shelter to feed the homeless. This was an eye opening experience, which inspired me to help the less fortunate.

In college, I volunteered at the Friendship Home, a shelter dedicated to helping women and children who were fleeing domestic violence.

Currently, I am working with the City of Chandler in a neighborhood rehabilitation grant to assist low income families. I believe that if we all positively engaged the communities that we live in that the world would be a better place.

I am very family focused and love any and all time that I am able to spend with my family and our yellow Labrador dog, Hobbes. Whenever possible, I love to take long walks or hikes with family and friends.

I believe that these outings allow me to see the beauty of the world and to enjoy undistracted conversations with the people that I love. My family’s Irish heritage originates on my mother’s side in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, Ireland and on my father’s side in Co. Wexford, Ireland.

I have a love of life and try to live by the Irish saying of “Dance as if no one were watching, sing as if no one were listening, and live every day as if it were your last”.


Armagh Rose – Nicole McKeown


Hello there! My name is Nicole Mc Keown. I am 25 and was raised in the beautiful ‘Orchard County’ that is Armagh;  I am so honoured and excited to say I am the Armagh Rose for 2017.

Yay! I have recently received my BSc Honours Degree in Leisure and Events Management from University of Ulster.

I hope to eventually pursue a career in the Events Industry – it is my aim to create exciting and immersive events and through live music, theatre and other creative industries, and attract even more tourists to our wonderful country!

I have been very passionately involved in theatre my entire life and have been lucky enough to perform in venues all over Northern Ireland including: The Grand Opera House, the Waterfront Hall, Armagh Market Place and the SSE Arena.

I have played a variety of roles such as Belle (Beauty and the beast), Katie Brown (Calamity Jane), Elizabeth Bennett (Pride and Prejudice) and Eponine (Les Miserables).

Staying true to my passion, I am currently Duty Manger at the Grand Opera House Belfast, one of Northern Ireland’s most prestigious theatres.

This year I will be representing and fundraising for the Children’s Cancer Unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital, in the hope of providing support for sick children and their families.

I will also be fundraising in an attempt to raise awareness surrounding asthma, with the intent of contributing to the recently launched campaign to install nebulisers in local schools.

I love chocolate, meeting people, my dog and experiencing new cultures. I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend the Rose of Tralee Festival this year and to represent my county as the Armagh Rose 2017.

I cannot wait to celebrate Irish culture along with the strong beautiful Roses that we are so lucky to have this year.  Nicole Xx


Boston & New England Rose – Orlaith Roche


Hello, my name is Orlaith Roche, the Boston New England Rose.  I am 26 years old, living in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, where everyone dreams of being Irish!

My Dad was born in Wexford, Ireland and my Mom is from Ennis, Co. Clare – they met when my Dad attended the famous Bunratty Castle Banquet where my Mom was a singer about thirty years ago – my Irish fairytale.

I am the youngest of the Roche clan, two boys and two girls – two of whom were born in Ireland.  I was born in Boston, but my most vibrant childhood memories are from when I was living in Ahane Co. Limerick.

Growing up surrounded by the rolling hills and stunning scenery instilled in me the desire to roam and connect with nature. The lessons of Ireland and my Irish heritage has guided my exciting career as a lifestyle and fashion model here in Boston.

Modeling for me has become more than just a job, it’s led to an amazing role as a mentor and coach, working with young women to build self-confidence and a healthy life balance.

My passion for keeping fit and striving to be healthy, has led to a national role as an equinox fitness ambassador. My adventurous Irish spirit and curiosity for culture has opened many doors, and also brought me to many exciting places.

I’ve found my years learning Irish dance and song has been the best way to connect with people all over the world.  I am very fortunate to have had the chance to live in both Ireland and Boston and equally thankful for my extended family who’ve made Ireland a home away from home.

Becoming the 2017 Rose of Tralee would be a dream come true and such an honor for not only myself, but my forever proud Irish family.

Carlow Rose – Ciara Dooley


My name is Ciara Dooley. I am 24 years old. I come from a little rural area in South Kildare, known as Maganey. I am the second eldest of five siblings. My dad is a proud Lilywhite while my mam is a Carlow woman from the village of Palatine.

Following on from school, I studied a Fetac level 5 course in Applied Social Care. From this, I studied year one of Applied Social Care in St. Patricks College, Carlow.

At the time, I was working as a part time waitress in the Seven Oaks Hotel, Carlow. Leading from this I became a restaurant supervisor and that was when I realised that I wanted to further my career in hospitality.

I grew to love this role and in addition, I attended a supervisory management course to enhance my skills in the hospitality industry to which I also learned a lot about myself too.

I feel very privileged to say that I am now currently working in Mimosa Bar de Tapas, as Assistant Manager, for two great people Oscar and Catriona. I have a great love for Irish Dancing. I danced for thirteen years under the watchful eye of the late Hazel Flanagan.

Gaelic Football plays a massive part in our home. I was lucky enough to have won many medals over the years with Castledermot LGFA. To put into words as to how I feel to have been chosen as the Carlow Rose for 2017, somewhat seems indescribable.

It is the most euphoric feeling in the world to be an ambassador for such a great little county. I am so excited for what is to come in the next year and am so thankful for all of the support that I have been given so far.


Cavan Rose – Paul McPartland


My name is Paula McPartland and I am delighted to have been selected as this year’s Cavan Rose. I am 23 and I come from the town of Ballyconnell which lies at the foot of the Slieve Russen Mountain.

My parents, Dallan and Catriona, are locals of the area and are well known for their work with the local Community Games. I am the oldest of three children.  I am living in Drumcondra, Dublin.

I qualified as a Primary School Teacher in 2014 after three amazing years in St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra. I have been working in St Michael’s National School, Ballyfermot for the past three years.

I began Irish dancing at the age of three, soon after I took up modern dance and this was the start of my love affair with dancing. I am a competitive Irish dancer with the McCartin School of Irish Dancing in Leitrim.

I have competed at many regional, national and international competitions. I have to say one of the highlights of my Irish dancing career to date was performing for President Michael D. Higgins in the Áras at the New Year celebrations for the international ambassadors in Ireland.

I now run a modern dance school in my local area. Each year my dancers compete in Community Games. Just like Community Games, the dance school is child-centred and the focus is on participation rather than winning.

I was fortunate enough to receive a National Youth Award from Community Games for my work with the children in my area. I am proud to say I am Irish and I have a strong appreciation for Irish heritage and culture.

I am delighted to be part of a Festival which celebrates Irish culture internationally. I am really looking forward to my year as Cavan Rose and I hope I can do my little town and county proud.


Chicago Rose – Teresa Daly


My name is Teresa Daly and I am humbled to be representing Chicago at the 2017 Rose of Tralee Festival. I am 27 years of age and grew up in Kanturk, Co. Cork with my parents, Charles, a local dairy farmer and Brigid, a former nurse and proud Kilkenny woman, and have two older brothers.

I was educated locally at Lismire National School and Scoil Mhuire Secondary School, Kanturk. I completed a BSc Honours Food Science degree at University College Cork in 2013.

I was fortunate to join Kerry in Naas Co. Kildare, through the graduate program as a Research and Development Scientist. I was offered the opportunity to relocate to the U.S. in 2015.

I’m based in Beloit, Wisconsin working as a Technical Business Development Manager. I enjoy travelling, adventure and exploring new cultures. To date, I’ve visited nineteen states across North America and have explored much of Europe and Asia.

One of my more memorable trips was volunteering as a youth helper, supporting the sick and elderly on the Cloyne Lourdes Pilgrimage.  I live in the city of Madison surrounded by beautiful lakes, in the Midwest of America.

I am a United Way volunteer in Wisconsin, working with local food pantries. I’m also one of the founding members of the Madison Ladies Gaelic Football Club. I’m a member of the ‘Ireland Network Chicago’, a business and social network for the Irish diaspora as well as a committee member of the ‘Professional Irish Women of Chicago Organization’, where we organise events to honour the professional Irish women of Chicago.

I look forward to the year ahead exploring the strong Irish links in Chicago and the Midwest of America. I’m excited to be one of the participants in the Rose of Tralee festival, making new friendships and connections around the world, through my fellow Roses, Rose Escorts and extended Rose families.


Clare Rose – Aoife Murray


I am from Sixmilebridge in Co. Clare and I have lived there for most of my life. I moved to Dublin for my job a year and a half ago, but as I am a home bird I try to go home to Clare as much as I can.

I am the baby of the family with three older sisters (so the pressure is on!) and the first one to move away from Clare. I am 24 years old and turning 25 during the week of the festival.

I studied Economics and Sociology in the University of Limerick and graduated in 2015. I work in Bank of Ireland in the credit and debit cards section. Some of my hobbies include baking, travelling, fitness and Ed Sheeran!

I was very upset that I didn’t get tickets to see him in concert in March of this year. I love to bake for any occasion, especially if there are any birthdays in work. My manager has nicknamed me “Chief Do-gooder”!

I am travelling to Lourdes to volunteer in June of this year with my local diocese of Killaloe. I travelled to Lourdes in 2009 and I had such an amazing experience that I wanted to go back at the first opportunity that I got. I also volunteer in an Alzheimer’s Café in Dublin once a month.

I love to help out there as you get to meet new people and you also get to learn about the effects of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. I am delighted to be representing Clare this year in The Rose of Tralee.  I am looking forward to the year ahead and meeting all of the other Roses, Rose Escorts & Volunteers.

Cork Rose – Aisling O’Connor


Hello everyone, my name is Aishling O’Connor and I hail from Aghada in East Cork. I am 27 years old, daughter of Pat & Mary, and younger sister to Patrick, Kieran and John Paul.

Family is extremely important to me and I love nothing more than spending time them. Aghada, my haven, is a beautiful coastal area situated at the mouth of Cork Harbour.

Aghada boasts spectacular views, thriving community spirit and I am so proud to call it my home. Having spent four wonderful years studying in UCC, I graduated in 2013 with a Masters Degree in Business Economics as well as BA in Irish and Economics, which I completed in 2012.

Immediately following my Masters I began to work for Apple in Cork where I have enjoyed four fantastic years in the Operations department. Outside of work, sport is my biggest passion.

I have been playing football with Aghada for 15 years and have had the honour of captaining our Junior team twice. I love to keep both physically and mentally fit and enjoy practicing yoga as well as spinning, running and gymnastics.

My family is steeped in GAA history with all members having some role to play over the years. 2010 was a memorable year for our family and parish when my brother, Kieran, won an All-Ireland medal with the Cork Senior Footballers.

My second love is music. My grá for music has been passed down through generations in my family, from my grandfather, who occasionally played on stage at the Cork Opera House, right through to uncles, aunts and cousins.

It is such an honour to represent Cork in this year’s Rose of Tralee Festival and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their constant support and words of encouragement.


Darwin Rose – Rochelle Blake


My name is Rochelle Blake, I am 20 Years old and was born and raised in the beautiful city of Darwin. Growing up in Darwin I have developed a love for ethnicity, adventure and the picturesque territory outback.

I am one of three children, and have grown up kicking the footy, fishing and camping with my older sister, younger brother, mother and father.

My Irish heritage is prominent through both my mother and father’s bloodline, with my ancestors originating from Galway, County Monaghan, Clare and Limerick. My time during Darwin’s Rose selection process has inspired me to continue exploring my links to the Irish culture and I hope to retrace the stories of my ancestors to pass on for generations to come.

I am proud of the Irish blood I carry and have been embracing Darwin’s Irish Community for as long as I can remember. I began Irish dancing when I was six years old with a local school and still continue to dance to this day.

It is something I am very passionate about and it is what initiated my connection to the Irish culture. I am currently working as a Traffic Coordinator with Channel Nine Darwin, with my work focusing on the scheduling of advertisements. Channel Nine Darwin is our leading local news provider.

I am still on the path of finding myself, which is what initially led me here. I love to challenge myself and to take every opportunity with an open mind so I can grow beyond my boundaries.

Being selected, as Darwin’s Rose is an indescribable feeling. I am forever grateful for the experiences I am yet to face and am blessed to represent my hometown and most importantly share a touch of Darwin’s culture with my Rose sisters.  I promise to make you proud Darwin!

Derby Rose – Sarah Kelly


I am 26 years old and proud to be representing Derby this year in the Rose Of Tralee Festival. I grew up in Staffordshire with my parents, Dermott – a Managing Director of St Phillips Care, and Ann – a former nurse and proud Kilkenny woman.

I have three younger siblings.  On my father’s side, my grandad is from Ballinlough, Co. Roscommon and my grandmother was from Co. Limerick, Pallas Green.

On my mother’s side my grandparents were born and raised in Mullinavat, Co Kilkenny. I was educated in a local Catholic school before completing my first degree at Newman University in Creative Arts.

I then completed a PGCE in education with part masters. I am now a primary school teacher! After my degree I worked as Vice President at my University, where I represented the voices of all students.

I am a proud ambassador of the Meningitis Foundation so was able to organise various events and awareness weeks as students are vitally important in the fight against meningitis.

I organised and supported the Gaelic fixtures, whilst a proud voice for the Irish students. I am a member of the Irish community in Wolverhampton, Birmingham and Derby, and look forward to the future plans where I can honour all aspects of my Irish connections.

I’m very passionate about food (burgers), family and friends. I have an immense love for musical theatre and love to perform on stage. I was awarded distinction grade in classical singing and

continue to sing locally, raising money for various charities.

Since being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after a car accident I have linked with the charity Mind to help support other people who may be suffering with other forms of mental health. I am honoured to be the Derby Rose; this has been a dream of mine since I was little and I thank everyone for their support.


Derry Rose – Sarah Colhoun


Dia daoibh! Sorcha Ní Chathluain an t-ainm atá orm. Is as Léim an Mhadaidh i gContae Dhoire mé.  Tá mé ceithre bliana is fiche d’aois agus is múinteoir bunscoile mé. Is onór mhór dom le bheith mar ionadaí i mbliana ar son muintir Dhoire i Féile Rós Thrá Lí, ní thig liom fanacht!

Tá mé ag dúil go mór leis na himeachtaí uilig a bheas ar siúl le linn na seachtaine seo i dTrá Lí. I am 24 years old and extremely proud to have been born and raised in the stunning Oak Leaf County, not far from the breath taking views of Binevenagh mountain and the winding River Roe.

I have recently pursued a career in the teaching profession. I graduated from Ulster University, Coleraine in 2014 with a BA Hons Degree in Irish Language and Literature, before progressing onto St. Mary’s University College, Belfast in 2015, where I qualified as an Irish Medium Primary school teacher. I thoroughly enjoy working alongside young children and love helping to develop their skills and qualities as young people.

I was therefore delighted when, in Autumn 2015 I was approached by Jimmy O’Hara Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann Roe Valley, an organization set up to promote Irish traditions through music, dance and song, to be their Youth Officer and Irish Language Development Officer.

This year, I hope to organise various fundraisers, with all proceeds going towards Chest, Heart and Stroke; a charity very close to my own heart! I plan to raise the Doire flag at the peak of each of the highest mountains in the four provinces of Ireland.

I intend to raise awareness of these various health conditions whilst also encouraging other members of the community to join me on this journey. Here’s to the beginning of what is sure to be a fantastic and life-changing experience – DOIRE ABÚ!

Donegal Rose – Amy Callaghan


Dia daoibh! My name is Amy Callaghan. I’m 22 and live in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal. I feel so privileged to be from the county that was recently named “the coolest place on the planet” by the National Geographic.

Donegal, with its endless coastline, rolling hills and viewing point for the mesmerising Northern lights.  I have just recently completed a BA. Hons Dance degree in Ulster University.

I have been dancing and performing on stage from a young age, having trained in Irish dance, ballet, hip hop, musical theatre and more. For the past two years, I have been training in aerial dance and have been offered a place in Aircraft Circus School, London, to further my training in this area.

My dream is to travel the world with the world-renowned Cirque Du Soleil. Also, I plan to get a diploma in sports massage and Thai massage therapy. Since being selected as Donegal Rose, the support has been overwhelming.

I am a huge advocate for mental health. I have begun to campaign and fundraise for Jigsaw, which is a mental health organisation for the youth of Donegal and Pieta House Letterkenny, which offers vital suicide and bereavement counselling.

I have given talks on the importance of mental health at various events in Donegal and also on radio, both in Donegal and Derry. I will be holding various fundraising events for both charities, one of which is a sponsored skydive.

I love meeting new people and listening to their stories. I am so grateful for the incredible opportunity of being chosen as the Donegal Rose and want to give something back to those less fortunate. If I can use this position to help others, then it will have been a success in my eyes.


Down Rose – Orlagh McNally


Hello everyone! My name is Orlagh and I am 23 years old. I was born and raised in Saval, a small and close knit community in the heart of County Down, close to the beautiful Mourne Mountains.

I am the oldest of four children and have two brothers and one sister.  My mum is a nurse and my dad is a farmer and owns his own on-farm butchery and farm shop. I grew up on the farm but swapped my wellies for Irish dancing shoes at a young age to win two All-Ireland Gold medals for Irish team dancing.

I have just completed a five year degree in Medicine at Queens University Belfast and look forward to graduating as a doctor and starting work in July 2017.

My long term career goal is to work in Intensive Care and I have secured a job for the next two years rotating through different hospitals across Northern Ireland, before I decide whether to enter a training programme or take my medical skills and travel the world for a year or two.

I love all outdoor activities, especially walking the Mourne Mountains with Dad, skiing, water sports and horse-riding. I am a keen traveller and last summer I visited Dubai, Singapore, Bali and Australia and the most memorable moment -of the trip was getting to hug an elephant!

I’m a very musical person and sing and play the piano in my free time. I’m excited and honoured to be representing County Down at the Rose of Tralee Festival. Throughout the next year I will be acting as a charity champion for Cancer Fund for Children and hope to make my family, the Down Rose Centre and the County Down community proud.

Dubai Rose – Lisa O’Donohue


Dia dhaoibh! Lisa Ní Dhonnchú is ainm dom. Tá mé ceithre bliana is fiche d’aois agus is as Cathair na Gaillimhe mé, cathair álainn in Iarthar na hÉireann.

Táim tharr a bheith bródúil a bheith páirteach i Féile Rós Thrá Lí i mbliana ar son muintir na hÉireann i Dubai. A Galway girl at heart, I graduated from Dublin City University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications Studies in 2014.

Shortly after completing my final exams, I moved to London where I spent a year and a half working alongside a Casting Director. My favourite memory of London was working in the Shaheen Baig Casting office, where I was given the opportunity to coordinate the casting search for BBC Films’ remake of ‘Swallows and Amazons’.

During this time, I also took the opportunity to travel around Australia and South East Asia with two of my closest friends.

Forever seeking a new challenge, I embarked on my adventure to Dubai on New Year’s Eve 2015 where I became a Marketing Officer for Polarcus, a company that specializes in seismic acquisition and geophysical interpretation… So, just a little bit different from the industry of film and television!

The city became my second home the following September, when I joined the Dubai Celts GAA Club. Even though both of my parents are from Mayo, I never picked up a football until I was twenty-three and living in a desert, 8,000km away from home!

I play in the Junior division alongside the most incredible group of ladies, and was elected on to the committee as Public Relations Officer. Over the past year and a half, I have immersed myself in the Dubai-Irish community. In conjunction with Abu Dhabi Rose Niamh Kelly, I am so proud to be representing the 9,700 Irish people who currently reside in the UAE.


Dublin Rose – Maria Coughlan


My name is Maria Coughlan and I’m 25 years old. I come from Malahide, Co. Dublin and was raised by my wonderful parents Brendan and Mary.

I have two older brothers, John and Niall, whom I always had the best fun with growing up. I am a fully-qualified primary school teacher after graduating from St. Patrick’s College with an honours degree in 2013, and I’m now teaching permanently in St. Vincent de Paul Infant School, Griffith Avenue, where I’m extremely happy.

My main hobby since age five has been Irish dancing with the Claire McKenna School of Dancing, Malahide, and I was delighted to retire last summer at age 24 as two-times World Champion, five-times All Ireland Champion and three-times Dublin Regional Champion.

Since retiring I’ve created my own Irish dancing blog called ‘Twinkle Toes’; I love writing and want to use my own personal experiences to relate to people, to connect with dancers and to provide support and helpful advice wherever I can. It’s always been a dream of mine to set up a dance school and so this year the Coughlan School of Irish Dancing opened its doors in Glasnevin.

I’m so delighted with its success so far, we have a fantastic bunch of dancers and I’m very excited for the future.  I’m a very musical person, I love to sing and can play the fiddle and the guitar.

I enjoy running, fitness classes and travelling around the world, and I’ve also been enjoying doing some voluntary work at the ‘Vincent’s’ shop in Malahide in aid of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

I’m delighted to be this year’s Dublin Rose and would like to say a sincere thanks to St. Sylvester’s GAA Club, Malahide, for sponsoring me in the first place, for without them I could not have partaken in this incredible experience.

Fermanagh Rose – Stephanie Maguire


My name is Stephanie Maguire, I am 25 years old and currently reside at my family home in Marlbank, County Fermanagh.

I am a doctor of philosophy student at Queen’s University Belfast with a Masters in Inclusion and Special Needs Education. In 2013, I became a primary and secondary teacher at Liverpool John Moores University and I currently teach Physical Education at Saint Mary’s High School Brollagh, Belleek in Fermanagh.

I am passionate about making a difference and having a positive impact on the lives of others. I am a Schools Service Volunteer with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and a volunteer at the Michaela Foundation Girls’ Summer Camp.

I enjoy farming, sport and in recent years, I have developed an interest in travelling. Last August I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship as an Irish delegate to participate in the annual Association of Commonwealth Summer School in Africa to discuss multidisciplinary issues of global importance. I have also travelled to Dubai, Thailand, America and Spain on vacation.

I love going to country music festivals, concerts and dances across Ireland, meeting new people and of course jiving. This year I will be representing and collaborating with Women’s Aid Fermanagh, with a long-term aim of providing support to victims of domestic violence.

I will be fundraising and campaigning to raise awareness of the prevalent problem of domestic violence within our society and the need for further funding within Fermanagh.

I want to thank my family and friends, the Fermanagh Rose Centre and my sponsor ‘Eden Hair’ for their overwhelming support since becoming the 2017 Fermanagh Rose. I am looking forward to celebrating Irish culture alongside my Rose sisters and Rose Escorts with the hope of making my County proud.

Florida Rose – Elizabeth Marince


Greeting from sunny Florida where I am still enjoying the excitement of being crowned the Florida Rose!! At age 22, I am thrilled to be traveling to Ireland to participate in an event representative of my Irish heritage of which I am immensely proud!

My grandfather, Tom O’Donoghue, grew up in Listowel and my great grandparents hailed from Mayo and Cork. My grandfather’s legacy is an inspiring one as he arrived in the United States when he was 19 with a cardboard suitcase, $35 and one change of clothes.

Through simple determination and hard work, he achieved success as a businessman in Pittsburgh, PA. One of his business ventures was opening the Blarney Stone Restaurant where I would perform with my siblings, singing Irish songs and Irish step dancing.

My Pappap was a loyal Kerry Man until the day he passed and I know that he is smiling down as I prepare to travel back to his beloved Ireland for the Rose of Tralee!

Performing with the Irish Echos in Orlando, working at Walt Disney World in the entertainment department where I routinely work with Make-A-Wish and special needs families, and acting as the Production Director of the children’s ministry at my church, are what keeps my days busy and my heart fulfilled.

I am also inspired to volunteer my time to the Special Olympics because of my brother, Michael, who is severely mentally and physically disabled due to a rare syndrome.

Although Mikey is nonverbal and totally dependent on my family for his daily care, he has taught me to enjoy the simple things in life. Growing up with Mikey also has created a passion inside of me to interact with other families with special needs children. I will carry Mikey in my heart as I travel to Ireland to compete for the prestigious title of Rose of Tralee!

Galway Rose – Niamh Elwood


Hello everyone, my name is Niamh Elwood and I am 23 years of age and from Castlegar in the heart of Galway city. I spent four years studying in GMIT Mayo where I was awarded an honours degree in general nursing.

I have been working as a staff nurse in the Acute Medical Unit, University Hospital Galway since December 2015. I aspire to continue my studies in the near future to specialise as a neonatal nurse.

Being the eldest of four, I have grown up with a family hugely involved in hurling and camogie. In 2005, my mother was part of a small committee who set up the Liam Mellows Camogie club for me and my sister to be able to play with our own club.

My father has been both mine and my three sibling’s trainer from a young age. I am proud to say that many of my closest friends were found through playing camogie. You can see my family and I on many sporting side lines around Galway.  In recent years I have grown to love travelling.

I have been able to visit many countries across the world. I am proud to say I have travelled to seven different countries in the last year. This has allowed me to appreciate the different scenery, culture and history of many countries.

I hope to further my travels in the future especially now that I am making connections with many Roses and Rose Centres. However, being away has showed me the brilliance of my vivid County of Galway.

With its gorgeous scenery and even more gorgeous people I am so honoured to be able to represent my County. I hope to do both my County and the people proud while involved in the Rose of Tralee Festival.

Germany Rose – Aine Sullivan


My name is Áine Sullivan, I’m 21 years old, and I am thrilled to represent Germany in the Rose of Tralee International Festival.

After spending my childhood in Germany and my teenage years in Ireland, where I acquired my Leaving Cert, I felt a strong pull back to Germany.  My mum is still living in Ireland and is happy out with her farm in Bantry, Co. Cork.

However my dad, just like my two younger sisters and I, lives in Düsseldorf where he runs a good old-fashioned Irish pub. The older sister has just finished her Abitur and the younger one is currently mastering the art of filling nappies.

Besides working in a clothing store to pay for my tuition, I like to draw portraits of humans and dogs, or occasionally work on a cosplay costume. In preparation for my chosen studies of opera singing and music theater, I am attending a private music school in order to become a singer and teacher, and share my music with future generations to come.

Hong Kong – Clarissa Langley Coleman


Hi everyone! 你 好!My name is Clarissa Langley Coleman and I am the Hong Kong Rose, and I’m 25 years old.

I was born in Hong Kong and attended local Chinese school. I often say my mother tongue is confused, as I was raised speaking Cantonese and Mandarin in class, and English at home.

At the age of 10, I moved to Boulder, Colorado where I studied until my Sophomore year of high school. For Junior year I enjoyed a semester abroad in Tokyo at the local Japanese school of Sacred Heart.

There I became fluent in Japanese and earned enough credits to graduate school one year early. Because of this, my parents sent me to do A-Levels at St. Mary’s Ascot in England.

So now I have the odd bragging right of holding two high school diplomas. I studied a BA in Modern and Classical Chinese at SOAS, University of London, which incorporated one year in Beijing.

While studying I participated in the Chinese Bridge, a linguistics competition, and came third for the UK. I also worked on a US-China co-production film, and applied it as a case study for my dissertation on Sino-Western co-productions.

After graduation I returned to Hong Kong, where I co-founded Bao Bao Films and ChinaWest Films. I also freelance for China co-production projects. I love using languages and collaborating with creative minds.

I am driven by the belief that a producer has the responsibility not only to successfully manage a project, but also the opportunity to develop content that can really have an impact. It has been a privilege to be a part of the first Hong Kong Rose, and I’m eager to discover the joy and friendships that await me in Tralee!

Kentucky Rose – Martha Mortell


Hi everyone! My name is Martha Mortell, I am 19-years-old and a second year Biochemistry pre-Medical student minoring in Mathematics at the University of Kentucky.

I am the Vice President of Math Club and the Vice President Philanthropy for my sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, here at the University of Kentucky. I moved to Versailles, Kentucky when I was thirteen years old during the summer of 2011 and started high school that August.

The culture shock hit me like a freight train, however, it has been clear to me for the past few years that the move has been the experience that has shaped me to the greatest degree and it is the opportunity I am the most grateful for.

I have been fortunate enough to travel to many countries and experience many cultures, however, I have learned that nothing will quite introduce a person to the concept of assimilation and cultural acceptance like immigration will.

Not only did I learn how to accept the way of life and different culture suddenly surrounding me, I also was the person that people learned about the Irish culture from and that interaction is something I have been very much aware of since the move.

I am very honored to be a part of the Rose of Tralee. My first cousin once removed, Fiona White, was the Cork Rose in 1993 and my grandfather, Michael O’Brien, was the clarinet player with the Cork City Jazz Band which played at the festival for years.

My family’s love for this festival runs deep and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to not only make Kentucky proud, but to make my family that I love and miss so dearly, proud too. Representing Kentucky in Ireland is the most fantastic way to combine my two worlds and my heart is inexplicably full with pride and gratitude.

Kerry Rose – Breda O’Mahony


My name is Breda O’Mahony. I am 27 years old and I hail from Rathmore which is on the “right” side of the Cork/Kerry border! Rathmore lies in the heart of Sliabh Luachra and is immersed in tradition, sport, music and culture.

I am a proud Kerry ambassador and love my county and its unique scenery, passion and culture.  My career path led me to St. Angela’s College in Sligo where I was awarded an undergraduate degree in Home Economics and Religious Education. Teaching opportunities brought me to Dublin.

While working there I undertook a part-time MSc in Food, Health and Nutrition through University College Dublin. The year 2015 brought me be back to St. Angela’s in Sligo not as the eternal student but as a lecturer.

I am very passionate about food, health and nutrition education and it is a privilege to work in such an interesting field. Completing the MSc and my current job has enabled me to look at avenues regarding a Ph.D, which I hope to pursue in the near future…perhaps there is an element of the eternal student in me after all.

I really enjoy experimenting in the kitchen and have been well known to stress bake. I enjoy travelling and my spirit of adventure has taken me to Nepal and Ethiopia as a volunteer.

Outside of the culinary world, I endeavour to stay active (motivated by my need to balance those calories!).

I have completed a number of half marathons, the Sea to Summit Adventure Race and I am participating in this year’s Ring of Kerry Cycle in aid of a local charity called the Social Action Group (SAG) which I volunteered with in my adolescent years.

It is an honour to be selected to represent Kerry. I am thoroughly enjoying the journey and the opportunities that have been presented to me.

Kildare Rose – Deirbhle Mulvihill


My name is Deirbhle Mulvihill and I am absolutely thrilled to say I am the Kildare Rose for 2017. I am 23 years of age, was born in London and moved to the beautiful Lilywhite county with my younger brother and parents when I was three years old.

My parents, Niall and Berna, are both from Athlone and I spent a lot of summers there as a child on the River Shannon. I grew up in in a small village called Kilcock and am delighted to say Kildare is the host county for this year’s Rose of Tralee Tour as it really has so much to offer local people and tourists.

I have just completed my Professional Masters in Education from Maynooth University to become a Secondary School teacher and am carrying out my teaching placement in Clongowes Wood College.

I have completely immersed myself into the school since I began along with my general community involvement. This includes volunteering with Age Action, promoting wellbeing,  and coaching GAA and Rugby.

I play Gaelic Football for my local club, Cappagh, and spend my summers coaching GAA all over Kildare. This summer I will also be volunteering at the Michaela Harte Foundation Camp for young girls encompassing fun, wellbeing and faith.

I love travelling to other countries. Driving the coastal route from the north of Croatia right down to the very south comes to mind. Parasailing, hiking and zip-lining 200 metres in the air are amongst my experiences to date.

I would recommend all three! I have a strong love and proud appreciation for Irish culture and for spreading the word of what this little country of ours has to offer. I am really looking forward to my year as the Kildare Rose and getting to meet people of Irish heritage from all over the world! Bring on Tralee!

Kilkenny Rose – Tara Roche


My name is Tara Marie Roche, I am 24 years old, and from Callan, Co Kilkenny. I attended school in Callan before travelling to Letterkenny, Co. Donegal to study Veterinary Nursing.

After completing my studies I moved back to Kilkenny and worked in Archersfield Veterinary Clinic where I spent most of my week wearing wellies and overalls in the company of the “famous friesians” of the south east.

After a year and a half of wearing muck for makeup, I decided to trade in the hooves for paws and complete my honours degree in Veterinary Nursing where I achieved the highest grades in my graduating class.

I now enjoy a diverse and challenging role caring for the four legged members of my community in Callan Veterinary Hospital.  I hold a strong passion for human and animal welfare, with mental health and animal cruelty holding a place close to my heart.

I enjoy a long standing relationship with many local charities but hope to utilise my skills and experience to benefit people and animals all over the world. Darkness into Light is an annual pilgrimage for my family and in 2014 we completed Hell and Back, one of Ireland’s toughest mental and physical endurance challenges in aid of the Irish Wheelchair association.

I was chosen last year by Edinburgh Napier University to travel to India to train local veterinary technicians in veterinary nursing skills to make a lasting improvement to animal welfare in southern India.

Words do not justify how it feels to be selected as the Kilkenny Rose. An indescribable sense of pride and disbelief have been the predominant emotions followed by extreme happiness and excitement.

It is an incredible honour. I hope as an Ambassador for my county I can make a positive lasting impression during my year as the Kilkenny Rose. Up the Cats!

Laois Rose – Maeve Dunne


My name is Maeve Dunne, I’m 27 years old and I’m from Mountmellick in County Laois. Growing up in Mountmellick our home was attached to the family business which is a local grocery shop.

Lent as you could imagine was always difficult as a child, but I loved growing up with the buzz of the shop and the customers around me. I studied Psychology and Geography in NUI Galway, followed by a Masters in Management at Smurfit Business School.

Whilst in NUI Galway, I volunteered in the organisation of the annual Fashion Show in aid of Aware. It was a huge undertaking which resulted in many late nights but the result was worth every second! Up until recently I was a competitive Irish dancer and achieved both World and All Ireland Championship medals.

I was fortunate enough to travel around the globe while dancing. It was an honour to represent the Irish community abroad, to promote our culture and make lifelong friends.

I met so many interesting people during my dancing days that I was inspired to travel even more. In January 2017, I returned home from Australia having spent two years in Sydney.

Whilst in Australia I worked on numerous large scale motivational speaker events which featured big personalities including Tony Robbins.

Moving to Australia gave me the opportunity to work in a dynamic environment whilst also affording me the opportunity to visit many wonderful places – a highlight was to be able to sleep under the stars at Ayers Rock!

I am very excited about the road to Tralee, and I am honoured to represent not just my County of Laois but also my hometown of Mountmellick.

Leitrim Rose – Erin Moran


Hi All, my name is Erin Moran. I am 27 years of age and I am from the ‘friendly town’ in Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim. I was born in Sydney, Australia to Irish parents, Eugene & Bernadette.

We moved to Ireland when I was two and half and have lived here since. We owned a supermarket, and I attended school in Ballinamore. Following this, I studied a Bachelor of Education in St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra.

I am now a primary school teacher in Co. Kildare. I love my job; it can be challenging at times but I am very fortunate to have found a job that is so rewarding.  I am an only child but have lots of cousins and friends.

I enjoy spending time with family and friends, walking, hiking, reading, swimming, and travelling. I know I am biased, but I believe Ireland is the most beautiful country in the world. I love to meet new people and experience new cultures, but it is fantastic to return home to Ireland, with its beautiful countryside, rivers and lakes, and most of all the people.

I travelled to Ghana in 2009 as part of the Réalt programme and taught there for two months. I completed a Certificate in Holocaust Education and had the opportunity to visit Israel. I have completed both my Bronze and Gold Gaisce Awards.

I volunteer with The Irish Pilgrimage Trust to bring young people with disabilities to Lourdes. It is an amazing week, filled with smiles and laughter, and isn’t that what life is all about.

I am privileged and honoured to have been chosen to represent my home county, Leitrim in the highly respected Rose of Tralee International Festival and I thank everyone for encouraging and supporting me on my Rose journey.

I am very excited for the year ahead, to be part of the rose family and in meeting my fellow Rose sisters and Rose escorts. I hope I do you all proud.

Limerick Rose – Kayleigh Maher


Hello, my name is Kayleigh Maher and I am 24 years old. I come from a small parish in County Limerick called Kilcornan. I am the youngest in my family, with two older brothers.

I have just finished a Masters of Education, which means I am now a qualified Secondary School English teacher. Horses have been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember.

I am constantly encouraging people to get involved with the sport and anyone who has, has become addicted, just like me! I absolutely love living in the countryside and could never see myself living in a big city for too long.

I spent much of my childhood exploring the land around my house, walking through streams and falling into dykes. I also thoroughly enjoy hill walking and rock climbing.

I have summated many mountains throughout Ireland such as Mt. Brandon, Carrauntoohil, Croagh Patrick and Mt. Sinai in Egypt. I also climbed the highest climbing wall in Vietnam in 2016, standing at thirty meters high.

Although I will never stay away from home for too long, I am a lover of travelling. I spent an entire summer in Ho Chi Minh City, in Vietnam, in 2016. My time here was composed of teaching English, doing some voluntary work and exploring the wonderful country.

I also lived in San Diego for three months in 2014, on a J1 Summer Visa. Although I sometimes beg to differ, I am known amongst my family and friends as the one who does not stop talking.

Hating awkward silences, I will always find something to say. I thoroughly enjoy meeting new people and hearing their stories.

I feel so honoured to have been chosen as the 2017 Limerick Rose and cannot wait to meet all my fellow Roses, Rose Escorts and all those involved in the Rose of Tralee International Festival.

London Rose – Caoimhe Gallagher


My name is Caoimhe Gallagher. I am a 24 ye

ar old Donegal born and Kerry raised girl. I studied Law for one year in the University of Limerick before I followed my heart to London six years ago to study Physiotherapy.

I am now a Specialised Physiotherapist at St. George’s Hospital and Wimbledon Rugby Club. Travel is one of my great passions. I love meeting new people, seeing new places and embracing different cultures. Living and working in one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world has opened so many windows of opportunity for me to experience different cultures.

In 2014, I spent a month volunteering as a student Physiotherapist in a special needs orphanage in Zambia and it was an incredible experience. I volunteer at the London Marathon and Wimbledon RFC charity events and have also fundraised for Chernobyl Children International.

I am currently involved in fundraising for a wonderful little boy called Shay here in London who is living with Mitochondrial disease. I love all forms of music and dance, and have been a member of a traditional Irish cabaret group from a young age. While living in Kerry I worked as resident pianist/singer at the Tower’s Hotel in Glenbeigh.

Obtaining my Diploma from the London College of Music at the age of 15 allowed me to teach music to children while studying. I love playing the piano and have also written some of my own songs.

The brush dance has become one of my party pieces and I have great fun teaching it to anyone willing to risk it – including some dubious rugby players! Growing up with the Rose of Tralee, it has always been a dream of mine to become a Rose. I am absolutely honoured to return home to Kerry donning the London Rose sash and representing my adopted home!

Longford Rose – Laura Ward


Hello everyone, my name is Laura Ward. I am a 20 year old student and part time waitress. I am currently going into my final year studying for a BA in Psychology in  Dublin Business School.

In 2012, I was lucky enough to become a member of a singing girl group ‘Celtic Chique’. We have been performing mainly at charity events all around Ireland. It has been a hugely rewarding experience being able to help various organisations whilst doing something I enjoy and promoting Irish/Celtic music.

Throughout my teenage years, I have developed a passion for understanding our minds as human beings and using this knowledge to enable us to live our best lives. I  plan to undertake studies in positive psychology, and I envision myself working to help people realise their potential and be happier as a result.

I love fashion and style as I  believe that how you dress can change how you feel, and impact your life in a small but important way. I also love to travel and I aspire to see the world. Last summer, I  participated in the J1 programme where I worked in an Irish restaurant in Times  Square, New York.

Moving and living in New York City by myself was a dream I had  since I was a little girl, so it was such a wonderful and fulfilling experience even though it was difficult at times.

The more I travel the more I feel I grow as a person with regards to open-mindedness and tolerance (which is proving to all the more important  in the world we live in today). Being chosen to represent my home of County Longford and its remarkable people is an honour I truly cherish and I cannot wait for Tralee and all that it will bring!

Louth Rose – Aoife Heffron


Hiii! I’m Aoife Heffron the Louth Rose, a 27 year old PR Executive and Communications in Creative Media graduate from Dundalk in the Wee County of Louth. I adore the stunning scenery that’s on my doorstep, from Carlingford Lough to Dundalk Bay, the beauty of my surroundings never ceases to amaze me.

I have two younger sisters, Grace and Holly and a cat called Glenn Coco. My youngest sister Holly is the GAA star in the family, playing for both County Louth and local club the Geraldines.

My boyfriend Kevin White also plays football for his local GAA club St Patrick’s. I love interacting with people, learning about them and hearing their stories. In my personal and work life I have some fantastic people around me that above all else make me smile.

I hope to have a farm of animals one day as I have always adored animals of all shapes and sizes, I even dreamed of becoming a vet. Next on my list is a micro pig called Denny (yes like the ham).

My main hobby is my blog AoifeJane. I started the blog in April 2016 as a way to discuss my struggles with hair loss as a woman and the mental health effects that go along with it.

I want to create awareness for this common problem and use the blog as an environment that hair loss sufferers can come to for information and support. It’s hard to put into words what it took for me to fill out the application to be the Louth Rose 2017.

I have regained much needed confidence, through my blog and what I like to call my ‘hair makeup’. Then to have actually become the Louth Rose, after telling my story to everyone, is genuinely heartwarming and an incredible honour.

Mayo Rose – Sandra Ganley


My name is Sandra Ganley, I am 24 and from Ballaghaderreen, Co Mayo. I am a primary school teacher, and also have a focus on my dance career at the moment.

In 2016, I set up my own dance school called ‘Jiving Juniors’. The school has had 600 pupils to date and children and teens learn how to jive, waltz and line dance in a country music environment.

I travel around the country each week visiting schools, teaching classes and working in Autistic Units and special need settings, and also teach Social Dancing for adults. I thoroughly enjoy all the behind the scenes work of running a business and working for myself.

Due to my interest in Irish country music, I wrote a thesis based on the social dance scene. I also have a huge grá for the Irish language, traditional music and dance, and I’m heavily involved with Kilmovee Comhaltas where I am the Irish Language Officer.

I pursued this love and completed a bachelor’s degree in Irish Music and Dance from the Irish World Academy in the University of Limerick to develop my learning and performance skills.

After competing in the world Irish Dance championships for many years, I hung up my competitive shoes and now perform alongside my sister for shows and events all over the country and further afield.

The Ganley Sisters have been fortunate to travel to the USA for the past three years showcasing and promoting the Irish language and culture and heritage.

I have also been involved with various RTÉ and TG4 documentaries and regularly present programmes on Sky Channel ‘Showcase TV’. I am honoured to be representing Mayo in the 2017 Rose of Tralee festival and thank everyone for their support.

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