Budding Rose creates festival dome of her own
A teacher yesterday created a dome of her own as she fired up her bid to become a Meath Rose and represent her county at the festival in Tralee, Co Kerry.
Dearbhla Gilroy (25) thrilled her junior infant pupils at Bohermeen National School in Navan by setting up a temporary classroom inside a hot-air balloon.
The Athboy woman will be among 54 Roses from around the world who gather in Portlaoise this weekend for the regional finals.
Their numbers will be pruned and snipped back to the 23 who will go forward to the Rose of Tralee at the end of August.
Yesterday, to the delight of the children, local balloonist Joe Leahy unveiled the massive balloon. Ms Gilroy availed of the opportunity to give her pupils a novel lesson in physics.
Portlaoise will host the biggest gathering of Roses in the history of the pageant as the 54 entrants are honoured at a civic reception in the town on Friday.
Over the course of the weekend, the Roses will each be accompanied by their own Rose Bud -- local schoolgirls who have been twinned with a Rose.
They will parade through the town on Saturday in a fleet of classic cars, led by Laois Rose Niamh Bracken.
The following night, they will take to the stage at the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel alongside host Daithi O Se, who will name the final 23 Roses.
It will be one of Daithi's last public engagements before he marries his US fiancee and former Rose, Rita Talty, in Dingle on July 12.
The reigning Rose of Tralee, Tara Talbot from Queensland in Australia, will be in town for the event to offer words of advice to those vying for her crown.
"The greatest reward I have received since entering into the world of the Rose of Tralee has been the friendships that have been forged along the way," she said. "I truly believe that these bonds form the very core of the festival."