‘Experiences she will never forget’ and the making of ‘lifelong friends’ are just some of the memories Julie-Ann McCaffrey will take from her time as the Fermanagh Rose and she has urged other young women to follow her example.
“From being chosen as the 2013 Fermanagh Rose in April at the Fermanagh selection, to travelling to Portlaoise for the Regional Finals and supporting the participants in Tralee at the festival along with attending various events, I have had a fantastic year so far,” explained Julie-Ann.
She admitted her pride at representing Fermanagh and the realisation of a dream she had harboured from an early age.
“Over the years I watched the television interviews and even attended the festival when visiting relations in Kerry as a child. Since then, I always hoped to participate in the festival and this year was the right time for me to do so.”
She continued: “As a Fermanagh native, I am proud to be representing such a wonderful county. During my year so far, I have had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world and I always extend an invitation to visit Fermanagh.”
It has been a busy nine months since Julie-Ann was crowned, with her time taken up with everything from leading the vintage parade at the Fermanagh Fleadh in Derrylin to carving pumpkins at the Share Centre’s ‘Halloween Howler’.
Through the help and support of her family and the community, she has also raised £2,200 for the Alzheimer’s Society and £2783 for the Sam Bradley Care Fund at a country dance.
But what about those that say the Rose of Tralee is an outdated concept and simply a glorified beauty contest?
“Roses reflect the intelligence, compassion and independence of modern Irish women and the widening of Irish borders and embracing of the global diaspora.
In 2007, Lisa Murtagh, a New York lawyer, was chosen as the Rose of Tralee however there is no bar on who may participate in the festival and this is reflected in the participation of women from various communities and backgrounds who all share a desire to celebrate their Irish culture and heritage.
“I have limited knowledge about pageants such as Miss World. I do not view the Rose of Tralee as a pageant but an International festival that brings together young women of Irish descent from around the world for a celebration of their achievements and Irish culture. The Roses are only one part of the festival, which includes a week long programme of events.”
Julie-Ann has nothing but fond memories, of her experience as the Fermanagh Rose and hopes others will follow her into taking part.
“I have made some life-long friends and had experiences that I will never forget. I would recommend participation if you are looking for a chance to represent your county and make new friends from all over the world.”
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