Monday 24 September 2018

Tralee win just what the doctor ordered but now Jennifer must choose - Rose duties or A&E?

Jennifer Byrne
Jennifer Byrne
The newly crowned 2017 International Rose of Tralee Jennifer Byrne in the Rose Garden in Tralee, Co Kerry, with, from left, sisters and cousins Emily Corridon (7), Nicola Corridon (5), Aoibhinn Corridon (6) and Anna Corridon (8). Photo: Steve Humphreys
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Newly crowned Rose of Tralee 2017 and junior doctor Jennifer Byrne faces a tough decision.

She will now have to decide if she's willing to give up her vocation working in A&E so she can commit full-time to her Rose duties.

The Clonderrig, Co Offaly, native became the first Rose of Tralee from the 'faithful county' in the festival's 58-year history.

Jennifer (24) said she will ask her family and her colleagues at the University College Hospital Galway about the possibility of taking a hiatus.

"I haven't thought about it, I am living in the moment. I will discuss it with my family and have a think about it," she said.

She admitted Galway A&E was a million miles away from the bright lights of the Dome: "It's very different. I'm in my scrubs with my hair tied up when I'm in work."

Jennifer arriving by helicopter at the opening day of Killarney Races. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Jennifer arriving by helicopter at the opening day of Killarney Races. Photo: Don MacMonagle

Jennifer is specialising in general practice and is particularly interested in women's health, in particular obstetrics and gynaecology.

However, she declined to comment on whether Ireland should hold a referendum on the Eighth Amendment, after a male representative from the festival interjected in a press interview.

When asked if she would be commenting on the Eighth Amendment at a press photocall yesterday morning, a male communications officer said "No".

Ms Byrne then said she would prefer not to address the issue.

"I'm just getting used to my role and enjoying everything and I'm not ready to talk about anything like that," she said.

The Rose of Tralee is often dismissed as nothing more than a 'lovely girls' competition, but Jennifer said that assumption did the festival a disservice.

"I think it is unfair," she said. "If people are saying that, then they don't know what it is like. Anyone who has been or met the Roses or the escorts knows it's a group of young people having the craic and celebrating Irish culture and heritage and there is nothing outdated about that. All the women on stage are modern women."

A sports enthusiast, Jennifer has played soccer and Gaelic football from a very early age, and has represented Ireland in soccer at U17 and U19 level and in the World University Games.

Jennifer meets former Olympian Seb Coe at the races. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Jennifer meets former Olympian Seb Coe at the races. Photo: Don MacMonagle

She believes her passion for sport and her outgoing personality are some of the reasons the judges decided she should wear the crown for the next 12 months.

"I do Irish dancing and Gaelic football so I represent the typical Irish girl from a strong Irish community and I'm going to be a good role model and ambassador for the Rose."

Jennifer said taking part in the 10-day festival had been a hugely rewarding but tiring experience.

"All the Roses are saying we should get a certificate saying 'I survived the Rose of Tralee'," she laughed.

Jennifer has dreamt of being a Rose since she was 12 years old.

Jennifer with Susie Brosnan (6 weeks) at Killarney Races. Photo: Don MacMonagle
Jennifer with Susie Brosnan (6 weeks) at Killarney Races. Photo: Don MacMonagle

"I just wanted to be a Rose, it was surreal for me even to be the Offaly Rose," she said.

"Even just being the Offaly Rose has been phenomenal."

Yesterday morning she began her duties by visiting Tralee's Rose Garden before stopping off at Woodlands Caravan and Camping Park.

During her time as Rose she said she would like to promote fitness and health and encourage young women to participate in sport.

An average audience of 637,000 tuned into the final with a 66pc audience share - an increase from 2016 which drew 618,000 viewers.

Host Dáithí Ó Sé said he was thrilled the ratings were so high and believed Jennifer would be a "wonderful ambassador".

"I'm delighted for Jennifer - she's an all-rounder, great fun and her energetic personality and caring nature really shone through during the week and also on stage," he said.

Irish Independent

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