Farm Ireland

Tuesday 19 February 2019

Opera student and Rose of Tralee hopeful learned craft in milking parlour

Victoria Sexton
Victoria Sexton
Claire Fox

Claire Fox

Opera student and Florida Rose of Tralee entrant Victoria Sexton learned the craft of singing not in a local choir but while mucking out in the milking parlour with her grandfather in Kildare.

"As a child I would help my grandfather Eddie milk the cows. He's a great tenor so we would sing together while milking the cows and cleaning up afterwards," says Victoria.

In 2001, Victoria's mother Jacquelyn, a hairdresser, was granted a green card to the US. Three years later, she, husband Edward and daughters Victoria, Alexandra and Charlene upped sticks from their home Rathmuck, Co Kildare to Ocala, Florida.

Victoria says the biggest adjustment to moving to the other side of the world was the weather.

"It's so warm in Florida. My blood is too thick for the heat. I'm lucky in that I can still get back to Kildare a few times a year and can visit a lot of family," she says.

Victoria's grandfather owns the successful Kildare Farm Foods and is her sponsor for the Rose of Tralee competition.

"I grew up on that farm and try to go back there as much as I can. Every Christmas I come back to help out on the farm and feed the animals," says the 24-year-old.

"At Christmas time I play the part of Holly the Elf for the Santa village there which is always lots of fun, and work in the cafe too."

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Victoria is "singing for her education" at the University of South Florida where she won a scholarship to study opera. Entering the Rose of Tralee had been in her mind since she was a child and she knew when the Florida Rose Centre opened three years ago that she would like to give it a shot.

"As the first grandchild in a family, all my aunts and uncles used to say that I had to enter, so I decided this year that I would," she says.

"There's a huge Irish community in Florida and there seems to be a feis on every weekend. My dad is a horse trainer, so we meet a lot of Irish people through that, and St Patrick's Day is crazy here," she says.

Victoria hopes that one day she'll be able to come back to Kildare and open her own stage school but for now she is looking forward to representing Florida in Tralee next week.

"I really want to promote Irish women and to show women that they can be who they are and don't have to be a Kardashian or put on a facade," she says.

Victoria will embark on a tour of Ireland with her fellow Roses this week which includes a stop-off at the K Club in her native Kildare.

The Rose of Tralee kicks off in Kerry on Friday and runs until Tuesday, August 21.

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