REIGNING Rose of Tralee Tara Talbot hands over her glittering tiara next week and the Dublin-born 28year-old told The Kerryman that while she's looking forward to kicking off her high heels, putting her feet up and taking a break she'll be sorry to see her year as Rose of Tralee come to an end.
Tara, who represented Queensland at last year's competition, has had a frenetic year as Rose of Tralee. As well as a charity trip to Calcutta with the Hope Foundation she was whisked off on four foreign expeditions to America, Australia, the Philippines and Luxembourg and among many other things enjoyed breakfast with Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg and got a starring role in the New York St Patrick's Day Parade.
This of course was on top of a gruelling Irish schedule that saw Tara visit every county in Ireland and attend a dizzying array of charity and Rose-related events across the length and breadth of the country.
Not surprisingly this whirlwind schedule required a change of residence.
In order to deal with her hectic workload Tara took a break from her work as a secondary school teacher in Queensland and relocated to Dublin for her year as Rose.
Now, with the end of her reign rapidly approaching, Tara, whose father is from Dublin and whose mother hails from the Philippines, says she looking forward to taking it easy for a while.
"The year has absolutely flown by," she said.
"It's been a real whirlwind and I've been able to do so many amazing things and meet so many wonderful people. To be honest I can't believe it's all coming to an end. I don't know where the year has gone but I'm so excited to get back and meet everyone in Tralee," she said.
"There are a lot of mixed emotions. I've had an incredible year but I think handing over the tiara will be a bittersweet experience. I have this feeling that the minute I hand it over I'll want it back!" she joked.
"That said I am looking forward to kicking off the heels and taking it easy for while," said Tara.
And what advice does Tara have for the 32 International Roses who are hoping to fill her elegant shoes and be crowned the 54th Rose of Tralee.
"What I'd tell them all is to savour every moment and most of all be themselves. There's no pressure and they need to remember it's all a bit of fun," she said.
"As for the girl who wins. I'd advise her to take a deep breath, take things in her stride and again be herself. Winning the Rose of Tralee was an incredible experience but I can barely remember the first few days.
After I won I got about an hour's sleep and from then on it was all a bit of a blur. It was about three days before I really knew what was going on. It takes a bit of time to take it all in but it's brilliant," said Tara.