The search for the 2015 Rose of Tralee, is well under way. If you are outside of Ireland; the Rose of Tralee is a festival which celebrates Irish heritage. There are centres in Ireland, UK, USA, Canada, Europe, Austrailia and New Zealand. A representative is chosen from each centre, who then gather in Tralee, Couty Kerry during the summer for a festival. One overall representative is then chosen to represent both her home centre and the island of Ireland on a global scale.
Last year (2013), I decided to enter my local centres selection. I am no stranger to these kind of competitions, but the Rose of Tralee is the most prestigious one I have entered and the nerves were high. However, it was also the most enjoyable competition I have entered.
I thought I would give you a little recount of how I found the whole process and an insiders scoop, just in case any one was thinking of entering.
The Application Form
The Rose of Tralee is essentially a job, a job in which you get to travel the world and help various charities along the way. So just like all jobs the first step is to fill out an application form. Expect questions like; ‘what achievements are you most proud of?’, ‘what famous person would you most like to meet and why?’ and ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ It is more of a questionnaire in order to get a sense of who you are.
There is no right or wrong answer and this process is usually just a formality. Do take your time with it and think of answers that truly reflect who you are, because the judges will all get a copy of your application.
There is usually an information evening held before the applications close. This is a chance for you to meet the committee who organise your centres events and the current Rose from your centre. Ask any questions that you have been worried about. The committee are more than happy to help you. There maybe be a short presentation on what dates you’ll be expected to be available for. Other than that it’s pretty informal.
The Tyrone centre were fantastic at organising events in order for the Tyrone Roses to get to know each other. One of the first was a night at McAleers Bar, Dungannon. It was a lovely relaxed evening with plenty of dancing and even a few ‘dance-offs’. Towards the end of the night we had all managed to take over the dance floor and somehow formed a circle where we danced and sang the night away. It was probably one of my most favourite get-togethers with the Rose crew (so far).
We also had a day at The Jungle in Moneymore, it was a day filled with a lot of laughs and screams. I did a full post on it here, if you want to read more about the day and what we got up to.
You will also have a rehearsal in the hotel where you will run through things like the order of the night, where you will sit, when you will get ready to go on stage, what you plan on chatting about on stage. Then you’ll have a group lunch and a good chit chat with all the Roses and Escorts.
And for good measure another night out is squeezed in before the final. We enjoyed a few drinks in the luxury of VIP at Time Bar, Cookstown. It was a pretty low key evening as the big final was just a few days away, but there was plenty of laughing and some magic tricks.
On the Day
Then it’s time for the big day. You’ll gather in the hotel in the morning time. I was met by an Escort, who very kindly carried all my bits and pieces in and put them away for me. After we enjoyed breakfast, we gathered together to receive our sashes with our sponsors names on them, safety pins are a must have from this point forward to keep them in place. We also receive a beautiful Rose of Tralee pin each.
During the bus journey you are introduced to your escort, the person who will look after you specifically and escort you on and off stage. My escort, Colin could not have treated me any better. He helped keep my nerves at bay and took plenty of photos for me. The committee match escorts and Roses on their interests. Colin and I both shared law as an interest, he worked in the area and I hope to one day. Having Colin as my Escort was also a great chance to get some advice about a career in law.
In the afternoon, you will board a bus which will take you on a very special Rose Tour around the local area. Now the judges will be on board, but don’t panic, they are only there to get to know you. We visited the Rocwell Water centre and enjoyed some tea and cakes and chatted with the Rocwell team and the judges. I remember talking to Christina one of the judges about the blogging world and how I was in the process of starting my very own.
Then it’s back to the hotel to get some lunch (you are fed so well at the Tyrone selection). After lunch it’s time for the judge’s interviews. The interviews take two forms; group and individuals. The Roses are split into two groups and asked to discuss certain topics with the judges. My group discussed The Gathering 2013 and breast feeding in public areas. In the individual interview I was asked about my love of Michael Bublé and follow up questions of what I had mentioned on my application form.
After all the interviews it’s off to hair and make up to get ready to go on stage. I recommend sticking with a natural make up and an elegant up-do. Fellow Tyrone Rose, Sinead mentioned that her ‘fondest memory of being a part of the selection was getting pampered and really feeling like a princess for a day’. You really are very well looked after throughout the whole process.
Dinner time rolls around pretty quickly, told you that you are well fed. We all changed into our red dresses for dinner and got some very lovely photos taken. And then it is time for the main evening to begin.
With the crowds gently growing, you do get very nervous. However, when your friends and family arrive your nerves will lessen. If that doesn’t work try the chocolate fountain, it’s delicious! On the evening we had so much entertainment not just from the Roses; there was singing and Irish dancing too. Jimmy, the stage host was full of jokes and kept the Roses relaxed. I think we chatted about my volunteer work and my hopes to visit the USA. I was third on stage and while initially I was apprehensive of going on so early, I was glad when it was over so that I could relax and enjoy the rest of the evening. I did a party piece which was a monologue. To be honest, I kind of regret doing it. The party piece is optional and I only really did it because everyone else was dong one. It made me much more nervous. If you have a strong passion for something, then show that is your party piece. Avoid doing one for the sake of it.
There are a lot of speeches and thank yous towards the end of the night. These will be done while the Roses have all gathered on stage. Make sure that you wear comfortable shoes, otherwise all you will be able to think about is not falling over because you’re feet are so sore (Source: personal experience). We were very kindly gifted goodie bags and plagues with our name on it to remember the event by. Finally, the winner is announced! In 2013 the very lovely Joanne won, who then went on to the regional finals in Portlaise to be considered for a place at Tralee’s festival. Unfortunately, Joanne was unsuccessful but enjoyed a year filled with amazing opportunities anyway.
No, it doesn’t end there. There are countless reunions after the final. For our first reunion we headed to Omagh for a night out. We danced the night away and took plenty of pictures.
If I was to do it all again I would do a few things differently. I wouldn’t rush my application form, I would speak out more in the group interview, I wouldn’t do a party piece, I wouldn’t let my nerves get the better of me and I would wear a different dress. (Hopefully, that will help some of you.)
I hope this whole post was of interest to some of you thinking about entering a selection. The Tyrone selection is usually held around Easter time in the Greenvale House Hotel, Cookstown. I truly enjoyed the experience even though there are some things I would change.
I’ll finish by saying, if you are thinking of taking part then go for it! The worst that will happen is that you’ll make some pretty awesome friends from your local area.
And if that’s not enough to tempt you, check out the current Rose of Tralee, Maria Walsh given her insight into the festival.