She may not have made it all the way to Tralee, but Fermanagh Rose Dearbhla McManus reflected on a ‘once in a life time weekend’ at the regional festival in Portlaoise.
Brookeborough medical student Dearbhla was selected as the Fermanagh Rose back in March and joined 59 other roses from Ireland, England, America, Canada, Australia and the Far East at the regional festival this past weekend.
In a whirlwind couple of days Dearbhla underwent her individual interview with judges, visited a cancer support centre and took part in the annual vintage parade where she was chauffeured in style in a vintage car waving at the 100s of people who had lined the streets to see the roses.
She then took to the stage on Saturday night.
“I was really looking forward to meeting Daithi O’Shea as I had watched him present the Rose of Tralee before. He is a wonderful presenter and he puts you at ease when you are up on stage in front of the crowd. He likes to entertain and involve the county supporters and has some of the best one-liners I’ve heard. Following my stage interview I played a classical tune on the piano called Fantasia in G minor which the judges and crowd enjoyed.”
The Brookeborough student’s name was unfortunately not read out as one of the six finalists, but regardless, she was extremely proud to represent the county at the prestigious event.
“Although it is disappointing that Fermanagh will not have a representative at this year’s festival, I am glad I have had the opportunity to be part of it. I will continue to be Fermanagh Rose for the remainder of the year and I hope to be a wonderful ambassador for my county and promote the Rose of Tralee festival.
“It was an absolute honour to represent Fermanagh in the regional festival of the Rose of Tralee. Over the weekend I was often just called ‘Fermanagh’ instead of Dearbhla. To be able to be an ambassador for Fermanagh at such a well known festival is something I will cherish forever. Each morning I put on my Fermanagh sash I felt a sense of pride and to represent Fermanagh while attending the various public outings was a fantastic experience.”
As for highlights Dearbhla cites friendships made that will last a life-time and the special treatment she received as Fermanagh Rose.
“All of the roses were treated like royalty. I never had to open a door, I was chauffeured around Portlaoise with a Garda escort, I attended numerous champagne receptions, ate delicious food and got my hair and make-up done for my selection night. Nothing could have prepared me for this amazing weekend and I am delighted to have had this experience representing Fermanagh.”
To anyone thinking of applying for the Rose of Tralee next year Dearbhla has no hesitation recommending the experience.
“I have had one of the best weekends of my life. It has provided me with the opportunity to make life-long friends and represent my wonderful county with pride. It is a once in a life-time opportunity