It would ‘almost be selfish’ to discuss political opinions - current Rose of Tralee

Maggie McEldowney says if all entrants did so ‘it would be a mud slinging contest’

Current  Rose of Tralee Maggie McEldowney  said  the competition is “about celebrating women, not bringing each other down”.  File photograph: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

Current Rose of Tralee Maggie McEldowney said the competition is “about celebrating women, not bringing each other down”. File photograph: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

 

If every single entrant in the Rose of Tralee finals “got up there with their own political [views] it would be a mud slinging contest and that is not what this contest is about,” the 2016 winner of the competition has said.

Current Rose of Tralee Maggie McEldowney from Chicago said it would “almost be selfish” to discuss political opinions or personal beliefs while acting as a Rose.

The 28-year-old, who was speaking before the finale of this year’s Rose of Tralee contest on Tuesday, added that the competition is “about celebrating women, not bringing each other down”.

“Having the responsibility of representing the festival, you realise that there are a million different opinions, different political views, different life choices,” she said.

“You realise that you are representing something bigger than yourself and it would almost be selfish to think about your beliefs and worry about what I want. You want to think globally, you want to help other people.”

Ms McEldowney, whose grandparents are from Co Derry, said she didn’t feel overshadowed by the attention given to last year’s Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins who called for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment while on stage during the live show.

“I think that’s why the festival considers itself apolitical because you are representing thousands of people from all over the world who come from different walks of life and you do have to consider that,” she added.

“And you don’t want to be disrespectful and imagine if every single one of us got up there with their own political [views] it would be a mud slinging contest and that is not what this contest is about, it’s about celebrating women, not bringing each other down or fighting with each other or contradicting theories and statistics and all that.”

Ms McEldowney has spent the last year juggling her Rose of Tralee duties with volunteering and working as Director of Development at Maris High School in Chicago. After being crowned Rose of Tralee last year, the Chicago Rose said she wanted to change perceptions that the competition is merely a beauty pageant.

“I spent my year working and volunteering with a food shelter. I worked with children, I went all over the world.

“So I did want to highlight that this festival, although it does celebrate fashion and the glitz and the glam and that is a fun element and there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s so much more to it.”

Ms McEldowney added that her advice to this year’s Rose of Tralee would be “to not waste a minute”.

The Rose of Tralee continues on Tuesday at 8pm on RTÉ 1 television.

On Monday night Thomas Lynch, a business consultant from Castleisland, Co Kerry became the 2017 Rose Escort of the Year. Mr Lynch, who was paired with the Kilkenny Rose Tara Roche for the first three days of the festival, followed by the Dubai Rose Lisa O’Donohue for the remainder of the event, collected a cheque for €1,000.