'You don't have to be a girly girl to be a Rose' - Dublin Rose and zookeeper Laura Vines
They say you should never work with children or animals, but Dublin Rose Laura Vines is something of an expert on the latter.
As a veterinary nurse at Dublin Zoo, the Shankill native spends her days tending to the needs of a herd of 11 elephants, among other animals.
"There's a lot of poo to pick up, a lot of blood to be taken, so it keeps us busy!" she says.
"Other than that I float around with sealions, gorillas, giraffes… you don't know where you're going to be every day which adds to the fun.
"I absolutely love it. It's a passion of mine - you wouldn't be able to pull me out of there by the hair!"
It was when she landed her "dream job" at the zoo that she decided to tackle something else on her bucket list - the Rose of Tralee.
"I said, look, your dreams can come true if you actually go for it," she says.
Although the past week has been spent in a whirl of glamour and hairspray, Laura says you don't have to be a "girly girl" to be a Rose.
"I was definitely not looking like this this day last week," she laughs. "I had a bit of poo somewhere on my body, in my hair, steel toe cap boots, no make-up.
"There's no need to be this girly girl and into make-up and hair - I don't know how to do my make-up or hair, but I'm winging it. The animals won't judge me anyway."
Laura will be demonstrating her animal whispering abilities with her puppy Penny for her 'party piece' on the festival dome stage in Kerry during the live shows.
"I describe what animal training is and why you do it and how you do it so it's just the basics to kind of engage the public," she says.
"I'm bringing my puppy on stage, not a proper trained dog, so we're going to improvise. Anything can happen!"
Laura was among 32 Roses officially introduced by Rose of Tralee host Daithi O Se at Castletown House, Co Kildare yesterday. They'll take to the festival dome stage on Monday and Tuesday night for the televised live shows on RTE One at 8pm.