PHOTOS: Meet The Rose Of Tralee 2019 Contestants (Part 1)

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There’s just days to go until the Rose of Tralee Festival begins. It’s time to meet 16 of the contestants…

Abu Dhabi Rose – Karen Cashman


Marhaba! My name is Karen Cashman and I am a twenty-seven-year-old primary school teacher from East Cork currently living in Abu Dhabi.

I am a country girl at heart, and was raised on a farm by my mother (originally from Galway) and father (born and raised in Cork). Since graduating from Mary Immaculate College in 2013 I have worked in schools all over Cork, and last year decided to take the plunge and move to the United Arab Emirates.

That plunge turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made, I now work in a prestigious British school and am very much settled in my new sandy home! My interests are many and varied, in part thanks to my involvement with Macra ne Feirme.

I have always loved music and the performing arts, but Macra fostered in me a passion for public speaking, debating and community involvement. My sister Edel recently underwent successful liver transplant surgery and I have since involved myself in the campaign for the implementation of Opt-Out organ donation in Ireland.

As the Irish community in the Middle East continues to grow, I am proud to be part of strengthening the links between Abu Dhabi and Ireland through the Rose of Tralee International Festival.

Abu Dhabi Rose – Karen Cashman


My name is Orlágh McClinton, I’m 22 from a village called Glenavy, off the shores of Lough Neagh, Co. Antrim.

I have just completed a degree in Liberal Arts with Religious Studies at St Mary’s University Belfast and will complete a PGCE next year to become a Primary School Teacher. I have a passion for photography and travel.

Last year, I spent 6 months studying in Kraków, Poland. I drew my inspiration to become a teacher from teaching both in India and Tanzania on volunteer programmes.

I have spent time in America as both a leader and participant in the Ulster Project, a peace project where teenagers from cross community backgrounds in the North of Ireland spend one month in America. I am a big follower of the GAA and spend a lot of my time playing and working with my local club St Joseph’s Glenavy.

I drew my inspiration to apply for the Antrim Rose from the Michaela Foundation a charity which I hold very close to my heart. I am delighted to be representing Co. Antrim in Tralee, from its famous Belfast landmarks to its beautiful Glens. I can’t wait to see what the year has in store!

Continued below…


Arizona Rose – Kayla Gray


Hello! My name is Kayla Gray and I am 27 years old living in Arizona, home of the Grand Canyon.

I spend my days working in organ donation, specifically finding homes for organs in the research community. For more than ten years, I have been doing a wide of array of experiments and exploration into the human body and have found my purpose in discovering the unknown.

I fell in love with research after I had an experimental brain surgery to treat Chiari Malformation and Hydrocephalus the day after finishing 8th grade.

After my recovery, I got my first job in a research laboratory and never looked back. I even worked on a research project that identified one of the cells that caused the very disease I have! I turned to research to find my heritage.

Utilizing both 23&Me and Ancestry DNA, I found that my family hails from County Leitrim and am excited to be able to claim Ireland as my home.  Becoming the Arizona Rose is a dream come true.

I hope to inspire girls around the world that they can do anything, regardless of what obstacles they have endured. My illnesses are often seen as defining and limiting, however I hope to show everyone that you write your own story and choose what defines you.

Boston & New England Rose – Tanya Stanley

Boston & New England Rose – Tanya Stanley

My name is Tanya Stanley, I am a 22 year old living in the beautiful and historical Boston, Massachusetts. Although I was born in the United States, I spent the majority of my childhood living in Ireland.

Both of my parents were born and raised in Ireland, my father being from Dublin, and my mother from Donegal. I am currently studying at Bridgewater State University where I am majoring in psychology in hopes to become a clinical psychologist or a therapist.

This field requires a lot of empathy and patience to help those that are struggling with a mental disorder, something that I want to make sure they can overcome.

I plan on furthering my education to obtain my masters degree to broaden my knowledge as much as possible. I am very bubbly, outgoing and kind hearted. I enjoy spending time with friends and family and making memories that will last a lifetime.

I am truly honored to be representing as the 2019 Boston & New England Rose in Tralee and I am excited for the rest of the year and what it has in store!

Continued below…


Chicago Rose – Shana Pembroke


Hello! My name is Shana Pembroke and I am a twenty-four-year-old graduate student from Chicago, Illinois.

I am the youngest in my family and I have two older sisters. I am currently pursuing my master’s degree in speech-language pathology at Saint Mary’s College and I plan to work as a pediatric speech-language pathologist providing intervention for children with speech, language and communication impairments following graduation.

I am particularly passionate about working with children on the autism spectrum and individuals who use augmentative and alternative communication.

My father grew up in Currow, Co. Kerry and my maternal grandparents hail from Knock, Co. Mayo. Some of my favorite hobbies include singing, dancing and reading. Additionally, I am passionate about advocacy and female empowerment.

I enjoy running along the Chicago lakefront and I am a firm believer that there is no better pizza than Chicago pizza. I was a professional child actor in Chicago when I was young, and I enjoy participating in community theatre productions.

I attended the University of Illinois for my undergraduate studies where I was a member of the internationally-ranked collegiate A Cappella group, No Comment A Cappella. I am humbled and thrilled to be representing my hometown of Chicago in my ‘home-away-from-home’ in Kerry.

Clare Rose – Victoria O Connell


Hello, my name is Victoria O’Connell. I was born in Galway and I am the second eldest of five children.

My father is from Dublin and my mother is a native of Glasgow, Scotland. Shortly after I was born, my parents decided to make our home in the “Banner County” in a beautiful town called Kilrush.

My mother considers herself “Irish” until it comes to Scotland playing Ireland in the rugby!! I attended Wilson’s Hospital Boarding School which was a very positive experience for me.

During that time, whilst getting a fantastic education, I acquired life skills that have stood to me to this day. I am a strong believer in positive thinking and enjoy yoga, mindfulness, reading and walking.

I studied Business with Event Management at Limerick Institute of Technology receiving a First Class Honours Degree. I decided to pursue my education further and undertook a Masters in Marketing, Consumption & Society at the University of Limerick in which I also received a First Class result.

Now as a 28 year old, I am happily working at Trump International Doonbeg as a Membership & Real Estate Executive. I am honoured to represent my county at this year’s festival and I am looking forward to an exciting year!

Continued below…


Cork Rose – Stephanie McCarthy


Hi everyone! My name is Stephanie McCarthy and I’m delighted to be selected as this year’s ‘Rebel Rose’.

I live in Frankfield, Cork. I graduated from UCC with a degree in Neuroscience and I’m currently completing my Masters in Pharmaceutical Technology.

I was inspired to pursue my career in Pharmaceuticals by the eagerness and strength of people to fight an illness even when there are limited therapies available. Once I complete my Masters I hope to work in the area of clinical trials.

I am very family oriented and a proud mum myself. Born on St Patrick’s Day, I’m one of three siblings and the middle child by eight minutes as I have a twin sister! My mother hails from Dubai and my father is from Cork with Kerry roots.

I love being on-the-go and keeping busy but when I do like to relax you will find me with a book in my hand and a cup of tea. I’m a keen lover of all things fashion and have worked as a bridal consultant for many years.

To represent Cork this year is a huge honour for me. I’m counting down the days to Tralee to what I’m sure will be an experience of a lifetime especially for the Diamond Jubilee Year!

Donegal Rose – Chloe Kennedy


Hi! My name is Chloe Kennedy. I’m 20 years old and I was born and raised in Donegal town. Both my parents grew up in Donegal town, and I’m ¼ Indian as my granny was born there.

I have two sisters, so watching the Rose of Tralee was always a big tradition in my house! I went to primary and secondary school in Donegal town where I made life-long friends, and completed my first year of Psychology in Maynooth University.

I worked really hard to get to Maynooth, and managed to handle a busy social life there whilst still getting good marks. I love learning new things and meeting people, so Psychology was a great choice of degree for me.

I’m hoping to pursue a Masters in Physiotherapy in UL once I finish my degree. In my spare time I love going to festivals, drawing, going to pilates and the gym.

I hope to travel and work with children in the future, but I know wherever I go I’ll always return home. I’m so looking forward to bringing a wee slice of Donegal down to Tralee and hopefully doing my community and county proud.

Continued below…


Dublin Rose – Laura Vines


Hello! My name is Laura Vines and I feel very lucky to be chosen as the ambassador for the Dublin Rose.

I am from the most southerly town in South County Dublin- Shankill, the eldest child, and only daughter, with three little brothers (although not so little anymore!). I am a Veterinary Nurse and Zookeeper working in a little oasis in Dublin City Centre, called Dublin Zoo.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Nursing and I’m continuing my education by starting a Diploma in Zoo Animal Management.

I am currently working with a herd of 11 elephants in the Zoo but I can be working with anything from sea lions to gorillas on a daily basis! I have a deep care for all living things and I hope share my passion about conservation and how important these animals are with everyone.

In my spare time you will find me hiking up the mountains with my three dogs in tow or chilling out with a spot of Yoga or Pilates. I love to travel and explore the cultures the world has to offer, but most of all the different species of animals, and try to make their world a better and more sustainable place to live.

Galway – Órla McDaid


Dia duit ó Chontae na Gaillimhe! My name is Órla McDaid and a village called Craughwell is home. I am 24 and the eldest of five children.

As my father is one of fourteen and my mother is one of thirteen, I have over sixty first cousins. Hailing from such a large family always increases my chances of the typical Irish phrase; ‘I know someone you know!’.

I am a qualified Veterinary Nurse and have cared for almost any animal you can think of … parrots, llamas and even tarantulas!

I am currently undertaking a Professional Master of Education in NUIG. This will qualify me as a Biology and Agricultural Science teacher. Agriculture is an important aspect of my life as I inherited a farm from my dear uncle in recent years. My family and I fundraise for the Irish Cancer Society each year in his memory.

Finding my feet in the industry has been a challenging but rewarding experience and I hope to show other young women that it is entirely possible to wear both wellies and high heels! Representing Galway is the privilege of a lifetime and I am delighted to be immersed in such a wonderful celebration of Irish heritage this year!

Germany Rose – Beatrice Beiderwieden


My name is Beatrice Beiderwieden and I am honored to represent Germany in the Rose of Tralee! I am currently living in Berlin, and completed my Bachelor degree in Auditing last year.

For almost seven years, I have been working at Deloitte with a wonderful team, specializing in auditing the European Agricultural Subsidies.

My Irish roots are on my mother’s side who was born and lived in Dublin before meeting my father and then moving to Germany in 1989.

In my free time, I enjoy playing golf, occasionally the clarinet.  I love spending time with family and friends (most of all our family dog “Guinness”)! Since I was a little girl, both my aunt and especially my godmother who is a well-known dancer in Ireland, always told me that they would see me one day as a Rose.

I am looking forward to meeting all the other Roses and bringing some German culture to Tralee having been fortunate enough to have lived in many parts of Germany such as Berlin, Düsseldorf, Black Forest and Cuxhaven.


Kerry Rose – Sally-Ann Leahy


Hello, my name is Sally-Ann Leahy and I am honoured to be this year’s Kerry Rose. I live in the rural village of Causeway in North Kerry.

I am a Home Economics teacher and Special Education Needs Co-ordinator in Meán Scoil Nua an Leith-Triúigh in Castlegregory. I am proud to hold a First Class Honours Post Graduate Diploma in Special Education, along with a First Class Honours Masters in Education Management.

I am passionate about voluntary work and fundraising. I volunteer with Chernobyl Children’s Fund, Tralee and recently visited an orphanage in Belarus. This was a very challenging and heart-breaking visit, yet very rewarding.

In July 2017, I welcomed two young children from Belarus into my home and this summer I have the opportunity once again to provide two more children with good food, clean air and lots of fun.

I have volunteered with Barrettstown, as well as fundraising for many local charities including Kerry Hospice and Darkness into Light. I also donated my hair twice to the Little Princess Trust, along with many of my students.

I love to travel having visited Australia, Dubai, Hawaii and Thailand, and more recently completed part of the Portuguese Camino Trail. I am a member of Causeway Badminton Club and in 2016 won Best Dressed Lady at Killarney Races!

Kildare Rose – Emer Fogarty


I am 24 years old, have a degree in psychology from NUI Galway and I work as an Organisational Psychologist in Version 1, an IT Consultancy firm based in Dublin. The key areas of focus in my role include employee wellbeing and performance.

Sport has played a big part in my life as I have played Gaelic football for my club St. Laurence’s, for NUI Galway and for Kildare also. The highlight of my sporting career was undoubtedly winning an Intermediate All-Ireland with Kildare in Croke Park in 2016!

As of recent, my passion for wellbeing and performance have taken the fore as I enjoy spending my time hiking, running, doing yoga, meditation and painting.

You can find me teaching yoga as part of the business venture I created called ‘Rise Yoga’, or otherwise delivering talks and workshops on a variety of topics related to Wellbeing.

As a lover of music, you may also find me singing and playing Irish songs on the guitar or otherwise featuring in the middle of a traditional sing song!

Kilkenny Rose – Clodagh Cassin


Hi, my name is Clodagh Cassin. I am 22 years old and I have just completed my four-year Agricultural Science degree in UCD.

In September I’m beginning a master’s in education to become a science teacher. For anyone that knows me, sport has always been a huge part of my life.

I have tried my hand at basketball, canoeing, badminton, rugby and finally settled on hockey. I began to focus on my hockey in 4th year in school, at the time I had been selected for the Irish U16 panel.

From there I have represented the South East at both U16 and U18 level, represented Leinster at U21 and have been fortunate enough to be selected to represent my country at U18, U21 and senior level, playing all over the world.

I play for UCD as my club and am on the Ad Astra Elite Sports Scholarship in UCD. I have grown up on a farm, so I guess that’s where the Ag Science interest came from. As the middle child of three and interested in farming, I’m usually the one out mucking in with dad on the farm. I am really looking forward to the new challenges that will come with being the Kilkenny Rose.

Laois Rose – Sarah Bergin


My name is Sarah Bergin, I am 22 years old and I am honoured to be representing Laois this year. I was born and raised in Laois but moved to Galway for college four years ago.

I’ve lived my life in a small village just outside of Portlaoise, called Clonad. My mother is originally from Portlaoise and my father lived on the border of Laois and Kilkenny growing up.

I am currently in my final year of General Nursing in NUI Galway and will be finished in September. I am currently working full time in University Hospital Galway as an internship nurse.

I always wanted to follow in my grandmother’s footsteps in becoming a nurse. Once I am qualified, I hope to go back to college to advance my knowledge.  From a young age I’ve played golf in the Heath Golf Club Portlaoise and have recently gotten back to it.

My entire family plays golf including my two brothers so It can get very competitive between us all!! I’ve also gotten back into basketball this year and play for Moycullen Senior Ladies in Galway, even though I’m neither tall nor fast enough for it! I am very excited to bring my family down to Tralee and I am very excited for the experiences to come.

Limerick Rose – Sinéad Flanagan


My name is Sinéad Flanagan and I am 27 years old. I grew up in Mungret and now live in Adare, Co. Limerick.

I am both honoured and delighted to represent the Treaty County. After qualifying as a Physiotherapist at UL, I studied Medicine in UCC and graduated in 2018. I thoroughly enjoyed college life but after eight years it was definitely time to enter the workforce!

I am currently working as a junior doctor in Cork. As an avid supporter of Limerick hurling, it has been a fantastic year of celebrations for the reigning All-Ireland hurling champions. Our house is also a stronghold of support for Roscommon football as my Dad is a proud Roscommon man.

In 2017, I spent a month volunteering in rural Ghana, at The Methodist Faith Healing Hospital in Ankaase. It was an incredible experience during which I had the privilege of meeting some amazing people.

I hope to do something similar in the future. Keeping fit is a priority for me and I try to regularly attend spinning or Pilates classes. I love to travel and the summer breaks during college have allowed me to explore many countries. I am hoping to visit South America this year.

Click here to meet the rest of the Rose of Tralee contestants

One Comment

  1. Malcolm Funnell- Gillispie says: