Entertainment Festivals

Thursday 19 September 2019

Limerick Rose Sinéad Flanagan crowned 60th Rose of Tralee

Limerick Rose Sinead Flanagan is crowned the 2019 International Rose of Tralee at the Rose of Tralee International Festival. Pic Steve Humphreys
Limerick Rose Sinead Flanagan is crowned the 2019 International Rose of Tralee at the Rose of Tralee International Festival. Pic Steve Humphreys
Adulation: 'Love Island' winner Greg O'Shea is mobbed as he leaves Shannon Airport. Photo: Kyran O'Brien
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

Limerick Rose Sinéad Flanagan has been crowned the 60th Rose of Tralee.

The doctor, who is from Mungret and lives in Adare, is working in Cork as a junior doctor.

She took to the stage on the second night of the competition, wearing a gown in the Limerick colour of green.

She put her hand to her head as her name was called, with all the other women crowding around her to congratulate her.

“It’s amazing - and it is only starting,” said the new Rose.

There must be something in the water in Limerick as Sinéad went to school with Love Island winner Greg O’Shea.

Adulation: 'Love Island' winner Greg O'Shea is mobbed as he leaves Shannon Airport. Photo: Kyran O'Brien

“We both went to Crescent College in Dooradoyle,” she told Independent.ie.

“I am shocked and delighted. I obviously didn’t expect it, but I am delighted and honoured to represent Ireland.”

She said the festival “definitely” represents modern Ireland.

And she pointed out how there hadn’t been a Limerick winner for 25 years.

“I think the people of Limerick will be so happy.”

She said it “felt like a dream” to hear host Dáithi Ó Sé say her name.

The newly-crowned Rose of Tralee was greeted off the stage by her parents Padraig and Catherine.

She shed a tear of joy as Kirsten Mate Maher handed over the sash and tiara.

She was 2/1 with the bookies, a favourite with them for the entire weekend.

As the curtains came down on the 60th year of the Rose of Tralee, there was plenty of talk about whether the festival was empowering for women.

Whether intentional or not, the Roses seemed keen to outline their position on the debate last night.

The first Rose out of the gate summed up the feeling in the Dome pretty simply, saying her fellow Roses had been added to her list of “incredible female role models”.

“It is a celebration of modern women, I think we saw that last night and you’re going to see more of that,” said Chicago Rose Shana Pembroke – who had Irish roots in the Kingdom, with her dad a Kerryman.

Her comments came after the 2018 winner, Kirsten Mate Maher, hit back at comments from a Newstalk broadcast by Susan Keogh which claimed that there was a lack of diversity in the competition.

Ms Keogh had said there would be no Roses from different socio-economic backgrounds, that there would be no “fat” Roses, and that they would only tell “safe stories” on stage. “Where are the women who don’t have the degrees or the PhDs?” she asked.

Kirsten defended the festival ,saying the remarks were “very uneducated”.

“I think it is really nasty to be honest, especially when she brought up the degree thing and the size thing.

 “There are girls of all shapes and sizes as you can see clearly if you watched it on television,” Kirsten told Independent.ie.

“And then with the degree thing, I don’t have a degree I haven’t set foot in college yet. I don’t have a career yet, I haven’t figured out where I am going in life yet.”

In keeping with the theme of Adele songs from the night before, Shana went on to perform the London singer’s version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Make You Feel My Love’.

She was no stranger to the bright stage lights though.

“Acting was my first job when I was 10 years old, I was in a musical in downtown Chicago and I did that for about two years, it wasn’t something I planned on doing, I kind of fell into it,” she said.

New Zealand Rose Sinead Rose Stayton put her best foot forward for her segment showing off her salsa moves.

And it was casually mentioned she hadn’t gone to college either.

“I wanted to do some travel beforehand, and fell into the job I am in now,” she said.

She was at the festival to do something outside of her comfort zone, as she suffers from anxiety.

She told how her grandparents emigrated from Sixmilecross, in Co Tyrone, and this was her first time on Irish soil, meeting 32 cousins in one day a month ago.

Chloe Kennedy was flying the flag for Donegal. She was one-quarter Indian as her granny was born there. Her dad, meanwhile, is the mayor of Donegal town.

Diagnosed with cancer this year, Chloe finished her chemo in April.

“I was feeling fine, I had a lump and I mentioned to the doctor in passing,” she said.

“It was my mum who told me, you feel like you’re floating above yourself. I felt worse for my parents because they had to break the news.

“I’d let myself have a bad day and make sure to have a good day afterwards,” she told of life battling the disease.

She was surprised with a special message from Majella O’Donnell, someone who had been through a similar experience.

“I know you have been through a rough time – please God I’ll meet you soon in Donegal town,” she said.

Elsewhere South Carolina Rose Cat McWhirter blew the roof off with her singing.

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