Dietician living with diabetes and L'Oreal model bullied for her psoriasis are among this year's Roses
A dietician who was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on her 21st birthday and a L'Oreal model who was bullied after getting psoriasis are among those competing in this year's Rose of Tralee.
New Zealand Rose Niamh O'Sullivan (27) said that choosing her outfits for the event has been made slightly trickier due to her insulin pump.
"You'd never even guess I'm wearing it, but it's quite hard trying to pick some of the dresses and things, just because I've a little extra worry," she said.
"Everyone's always like, 'Does my bum look big in this?' and I'm like, 'Does my pump look big in this, like can you see it?' Everyone here has been so supportive."
Orlaith Roche (26), who's representing Boston and New England, revealed how she has had to overcome many obstacles to make it to the Dome.
"At the height of my career I was signed with Ford Models and I got an academic scholarship to college and I was like, 'All my stars are aligned'," she said.
"Then when I got psoriasis I was dropped from my agency and I had to move back to Boston.
"I got it under wraps, but kids were awful to me. When you have a skin issue like psoriasis, people are not forgiving, they're not kind, but it made me stronger and I'm a better model for it.
"Everyone thought my career was over, but I kept fighting and I knew this is what I wanted to do."
Wearing matching red dresses, all 64 of the Roses competing in the annual event were introduced at a photocall at Malahide Castle yesterday. They will be whittled down to 32.
Presenter Daithi O Se arrived in a helicopter borrowed from the Glenroyal Hotel in Maynooth where the Roses had been staying.
He admitted he still gets nervous ahead of the event, which kicks-off next Monday.
He also said the competition has moved with the times, as evidenced by Maria Walsh winning the 2015 contest.
"If you go back to the Rose of Tralee in 2015, she happened to be gay," he said.
"If you went back to 1985 and said the Rose of Tralee was gay, I'm sure the whole place would be coming out with crosses and throwing holy water at each other and praying in front of the altar.
"I got a call saying, 'Maria Walsh is gay', and I was like, 'Big deal, lads, it's 2015 - get over it'. That's normal now in society."'We're just having the time of our lives' - Introducing this year's hopeful Roses as festival kicks off Dáithí Ó Sé: 'I think stay at home mums have to answer questions they never had to answer before'