Cavan Rose Grace Farrelly relaxed at her home.

Cavan Rose set to wow judges in Tralee with her singing voice

A dream come true for Grace

Cavan’s 2024 Rose was just back from the Carton Bros chicken farm business when The Anglo Celt called for a catch up.

Since her selection on April 21, Grace Farrelly has been living in a whirlwind of dresses, community visits and callers to the house wishing her well in the Rose of Tralee competition. The annual Dome festival will take place from August 16-20.

The Farrelly’s Nolagh home, atop the hills between Bailieborough and Shercock, has been recently decorated with cards wishing G race the best of luck. The townland is spectacular and Grace Farrelly hopes to bring the very best of it, and the wider county to the Kingdom this August.

“There’s a certain kindness in Cavan that I’d really like to represent,” said Grace, explaining what she hopes to achieve on the Dome stage.

“I think Cavan is a very special county, I feel there is a certain culture in Cavan, a very wholesome, hospitable nature.

“There is no house in Cavan you could knock on the door and you wouldn’t be brought in for a cup of tea and a chat.”

At the young age of 19 years, the English and sociology student did not expect to be donning the Cavan Rose sash.

“I actually wasn’t expecting to get this,” Grace said, referencing to the white silk fabric slung over her shoulder.

“I only went to meet new people and to just try it out. I felt so shocked but I also felt so honoured.”

Since receiving her title, Grace has been gathering sponsorship and meeting people in her local community, most recently the children at St Anne’s National School where one student made her a bracelet with her name printed on muti-coloured beads.

“They had a little day for me and it was so lovely, I went in and I got pictures with everyone.

“I’ve been doing a lot so I have but I’m really enjoying it,” she said, adding that “all of Cavan have been really kind".

Consuming a lot of Graces’ time of late is shopping, and lots of it.

“I’ve been doing a lot but mostly shopping because there's so much that goes into all the clothes and the hats. I’ve been loving all of that, I’d be the best woman for shopping,” she laughed.

The hospitable nature of Cavan’s inhabitants rings true, as her mother Teresa comes with tea and a generous slice of apple tart. Teresa shines a light on her daughter’s caring nature explaining that she lived with her husband’s late mother Phyllis Farrelly during Covid-19. Grace had a close bond with her grandmother and at the age of 16, provided care for her during her time with Alzheimer’s. They would have watched the Rose of Tralee together.

“Nan had said to me, 'you should go for that when you’re older',” said Grace, a little shy now at her mother’s commendation. She spends some time explaining that, to her, there wasn’t even a question of who would look after her grandmother when she got sick. Grace immediately stepped up.

“At just sixteen,” her mother repeats.

The story takes a light-hearted turn and Teresa laughs at how, just recently she rang her daughter while she was studying in Maynooth. Grace answered immediately and told her that she couldn’t talk - she had to ring Kildare Wildlife Rescue. Grace had come across a hedgehog in difficulty on the road and brought it to safety. Teresa smiled at the memory.

Grace walks out to the hallway, home to a mahogany piano tucked under the stairs. She re-taught herself the instrument during the pandemic having learned it years ago. She takes a seat and glides her fingers across the keys. The tune of ‘How Long Will I Love You?’ by Ellie Goulding fills the hallway. Stacked upon the piano are some Graces’ hefty selection of novels - Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Sally Rooney and Delia Owens among the works.

As the lyrics fade into the hallway, Grace launches into explaining her passion for English literature, which was nurtured by her secondary school English teachers at Bailieborough Community School, and blossomed upon furthering her studies in Maynooth University.

“I just really enjoy it, I find I have a certain knack for it, I have a certain love for poetry,” she said, adorning Arienne Rich and Sylvia Plath as her idols.

Grace also enjoys writing and hopes to go on to become a secondary school English teacher.

“The teachers I had were so encouraging,” she said, explaining how they encouraged her to join the debating team and the student council.

“They were so kind and helpful but also brilliant and made me look at English in a different way and have newfound understandings.

“I really enjoyed it so I would hope that I would go on and do that maybe for a student who had an enjoyment for English as much as I did.”

Grace plans to speak about this when she steps out on stage, along with her studies, her home county and her work cleaning at Cavan General Hospital, where the patients and staff are most proud. With cameras live streaming on RTE to all Rose of Tralee fanatics and first-timers, she said she is going to “hopefully” be able to find her family in the crowd.

“I’ll give them a good wave and a good smile,” Grace laughed

Following this, Grace plans to sing the Doris Day version of ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me’.

“It’s all about the fun and it’s all about meeting new people and having new experiences.

“I’m excited to go and meet Daithí as well, I feel like we’ll have a bit of craic.”

She described the opportunity as a “once in a lifetime experience".

“I’m going to go down and try my best and hopefully win it, but it’s not all about winning I’m more honoured to be Cavan Rose 2024.

“I’ll give it a good go,” Grace concluded.