The search for the 2016 Cavan Rose began in earnest with the visit of Rose of Tralee, Elysha Brennan, to the county last week. Joined by the 2015 and 2014 Roses, Leontia Sheridan and Laura Galligan, they are on the scent of the next Rose who is already guaranteed a place in Tralee. SEAMUS ENRIGHT found out more...
The closing date for applications for Rose hopefuls is April 30 ahead of the official gala selection night at the Hotel Kilmore, Cavan Town, on Friday, May 13 next.
Friday the thirteenth, while unlucky for some, will prove very lucky for the lady ultimately crowned the 2016 Cavan Rose who will this year be guaranteed a place in the finals in Tralee.
Laura Galligan, the 2014 Cavan Rose and a senior scientist at the Office of the State Pathologist, will be co-organising this year’s Cavan Rose event with her cousin, Cavan businesswoman Lorraine O’Neill.
The pair are taking over the running of the Cavan Rose Centre from Angela Dolan and Kathleen Reilly. “We’re learning from them still. What they’ve put in place for us to carry on is incredible. Myself and Lorraine are delighted to be part of it and to carry it on for future generations as well,” Laura told The Anglo-Celt, which will again act as media partner for the Cavan Rose selection.
This title of 2016 Cavan Rose is all the more special for the potential winner following the shake-up in the Rose of Tralee format nationally by organisers. With the elimination of the regionals usually contested in Portlaoise, all 68 county Roses who qualify will travelling to Tralee for the week-long Rose of Tralee International Festival. However, only 32 Roses will make it onto the live shows, with host Dáithí Ó Sé, at the Dome on Monday and Tuesday, August 22-23.
“This year we’re going to have a Cavan Rose in Tralee, which is a fantastic thing for the county. With no regionals, it means every Rose will go on the Rose Tour of Ireland. They’ll get to be part of the parade, get an escort, go to Rose Ball. It’s a fantastic experience and an amazing incentive for any young woman aged between 18 and 28 to take their chance and represent Cavan,” says Laura.
‘One of the best decisions’
As a former Cavan Rose, Laura describes her involvement with the Rose of Tralee as “one of the best decisions” of her life.
“It brings such fun, craic, friendship and memories that you really can’t imagine. On the selection night we’ll have Brendan Hennessy presenting, there’ll be Rose Buds with their family and friends and all the Roses will have their hair and make-up done by Salon Tibo and Utopia. It will be a fantastic night. Our designated charity for this year’s Cavan Rose is Cystic Fibrosis Cavan.
“We’re looking for, whether it’s your sister, daughter, niece, neighbour or friend, it was my cousin Lorraine who entered me. I never imagined beforehand that I would’ve done it. I even said no at the beginning, but looking back it has really been one of the best decisions of my life.”
It’s a sentiment genuinely shared by the other Roses too, Meath-native and 2015 winner Elysha and Cavan Rose Leontia, from Redhills.
While in Cavan, the pair visited Leontia’s former primary school at Killoughter as well as the paediatric unit at Cavan General Hospital.
On an international stage
Steve Cronly, the Rose of Tralee commercial manager, explains some of what it takes to be a winning Rose. An escort during the Festival in 2000, he admits being scornful of the whole Rose selection process before attending the festival.
“The Rose of Tralee is still as important and relevant to towns and villages across Ireland, as well as the Irish diaspora abroad, as it ever was - maybe even more now.
“In Meath last year for instance I had people coming up and saying to me that it was like the county winning the Sam Maguire having Elysha crowned winner. That’s how important it is. To be an ambassador for your own county, going out there onto the world stage, because that’s what it is now. It really is incredible. Elysha will go from visiting schools today to visiting the White House and meeting President Barack Obama in March when she will speak on behalf of the Festival and for Ireland.”
‘Just be yourself’
School teacher Leontia admits it’s with a somewhat heavy heart she will be handing over the crown to the next local winner, saying that she loved every minute. She recounted among her most proud moments when she officially opened the Redhills village carnival.
As for advice for the rose hopefuls, she says: “Everyone says it, but the key is to just be yourself. It’s a real people person event. It’s not a competition I don’t think, it’s more a celebration of friendship and of Irish women and what we stand for.”
Elysha agrees, as she too encourages others to take the plunge and apply.
She said: “It took me less than an hour to fill out the application form online but it was the best decision I ever made. If you ever thought you wanted to be a Rose one day then just go for it. Life is too short not to try and what’s the worst that can happen?”