Women in this year’s Rose of Tralee ‘very inspiring’

Forensic mental health occupational therapist among the contestants this year

Brooklynn Quinn, Sinead Flanagan, Karen Cashman, Orlagh McClinton, Orla McDaid and Marie Brady stepping out in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin, on Wednesday. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Brooklynn Quinn, Sinead Flanagan, Karen Cashman, Orlagh McClinton, Orla McDaid and Marie Brady stepping out in St Stephen’s Green, Dublin, on Wednesday. Photograph: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

 

A forensic mental health occupational therapist based in a maximum security men’s prison and a psychology student are among the young women vying for the title of this year’s Rose of Tralee.

Seven of this year’s 32 contestants gathered at Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green on Wednesday to discuss their preparations for their journey to Tralee later this month.

They included contestants from Abu Dhabi, San Francisco and Melbourne as well as from Limerick, Antrim, Longford and Galway.

They have been “chatting on WhatsApp for months” and developed firm friendships ahead of the competition, according to San Francisco Rose Brooklyn Quinn.

Ms Quinn moved to America from Waterford when she was 13 and is delighted to represent San Francisco in this year’s competition.

International appeal

Now a psychology student, the 19-year-old also works as an autism therapist. She described the international appeal of the show. “It’s for your average girl, just like me. I grew up watching it and it’s a great way to keep in touch with the Irish community.”

Jordan Belfry, the Melbourne Rose, spoke of her admiration for the other Roses: “The girls are doctors, vets, teachers, nurses. It’s all very inspiring.”

The 28-year-old moved to Australia in January 2018, where she works as a forensic mental health occupational therapist based in a maximum security men’s prison.

She applied to the event because of the platform it gives women, saying that “there is no such thing as a typical Rose”.

“It’s a brilliant way for women to be celebrated. The fact that it has been going for 60 years is a testament to that.”

The 60th anniversary of the competition will also see 30 former Roses return to Tralee, including the first Rose Alice O’Sullivan.

Modern Ireland

This year, the age range has been increased from 28 to 29 and the selection process has changed so that counties will only be eligible to nominate Roses every other year.

The changes are part of the competition’s gradual modernisation in recent years. Mothers have been welcome since 2007 and last year’s winner, Kirsten Mate Maher, was the second mixed-race Rose of Tralee.

“The competition is a reflection of modern Ireland,” said John Drummey, communications manager of the Rose of Tralee. “We’re happy with how we’ve adapted over the years.”

The main event takes place in Tralee from 23rd to 27th August.