ROSE COUNTDOWN: Meet The Rose Of Tralee 2018 Contestants (Part 1)

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The Rose of Tralee International Festival gets underway soon with the 57 Roses arriving in Tralee next Wednesday. And now (in alphabetical order) it’s about time you met some of them…

Sara Kate Mangan


My name is Sara Kate Mangan, I am 26-years old. At the age of 18 I moved to Liverpool to pursue my dream of becoming a nurse. After three  years, a leap of faith took me even further afield from my humble Mayo roots to Abu Dhabi. 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. Interests include socializing and meeting new people, music, fashion and sport.

Róisín 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.  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!

Continued below…


Kelsey Kelleher

ARIZONA ROSE – Kelsey Kelleher

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. 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.

Sorcha Rochford


I am 27 years old and 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 completed my undergraduate degree in Political Science and History at the University of Portsmouth in England before relocating to Boston, Massachusetts. Irish dancing has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

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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 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. 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.

Rachel Cusack


I am 26 years old 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 . 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. I have played Gaelic football from the age of ten, and played with Killinkere Ladies until just before leaving for Oz.

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Katie Callahan


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. I spent last year living in Dublin, working with the Gaiety School of Acting. I am currently the Business Development Manager for Weekend Student Adventures, a travel organization dedicated to assisting students studying abroad in Europe.

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. Set dancing is a big passion of mine. I have been grateful to represent my county, province and Ireland on numerous occasions. 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’.

Erinn O’Connell


I was born and raised in the beautiful village of Aghabullogue, Co. Cork. 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. Away from the busy wards, camogie is a real passion of mine and I enjoy both playing and coaching underage teams. 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!

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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. 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.

Niamh Duggan


I’m 21 and 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.

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 also love to travel when I have the chance and love participating in the Scór recitation competition.

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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. 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.

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. Animal welfare is important to me. I volunteer as often as I can mainly helping out with fundraising events.

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. 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!

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Deirdre O’Sullivan


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.  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.

Giulia Kearney


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. 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.

Lorraine Gavin


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. 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!

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Celine O’Shea


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.  My love of travel and new experiences has brought me to countries Australia, Canada, Thailand, the Netherlands, Spain, France, Italy, Belgium and America. 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.

Grainne Carr, Kildare Rose 2018. Photo:Michael Donnelly.


I’m 23 and I grew up in Ardclough village. 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. 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!

Helena Hughes


I’m 26 years old and I grew up in Kilkenny city, but 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. 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’m a real home-bird and I love spending time with my Kerry-born Granny and my fabulous Mammy.

Gráinne Hogan


I am 23 years of age. and I live in the great townsland of Cardtown at the foot of The Slieve Bloom Mountains. 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.

Imelda Scally


I’m 26 years old , 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.

Hazel Ní Chathasaigh

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.

Gráinne Hawkes


I am 26 years old and 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 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.

Loren Katie Logan


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. 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 also volunteer with the Midland’s Simon Community.

AnnMarie Duffy


I am 27 years old, 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!

Amber Crean


I’m 26 years old , born in Dublin and lived in Wicklow and Meath before moving “Wesht” to Galway. I had always planned to move abroad once I completed my Bachelor of Commerce degree and diploma in French at NUI Galway.  I moved to the beautiful “Grand Duchy” in 2014 and it has been my home away from home ever since. 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. 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.

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.

Click Here To Meet The Rest Of The Roses

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