Sunday 15 September 2019

From prisons and farmyards, the Roses hit the long road to Tralee

Blooming: Karen Cashman (Abu Dhabi), Brooklyn Quinn (San Francisco), Orlaigh McClinton (Antrim), Marie Brady (Longford), Orla McDaid (Galway), Jordan Balfry (Melbourne) and Sinead Flanagan (Limerick). Photo: Damien Eagers / INM
Blooming: Karen Cashman (Abu Dhabi), Brooklyn Quinn (San Francisco), Orlaigh McClinton (Antrim), Marie Brady (Longford), Orla McDaid (Galway), Jordan Balfry (Melbourne) and Sinead Flanagan (Limerick). Photo: Damien Eagers / INM

Kirsty Blake Knox and Aoife Walsh

A farmer and a therapist at a maximum security prison are among the 58 women heading down to the Kingdom for this year's Rose of Tralee.

This year's Melbourne Rose, Jordan Balfry (28), originally from Limerick, works in the acute psychiatric unit at a maximum security prison in the city.

"So every day is different," she said. "We offer assistance to those with psychiatric needs - we would deal with prisoners suffering from bipolar conditions and schizophrenia, and offer them extra assistance."

She moved to Australia in January 2018, and returned last week ahead of the festival which runs from August 23-27.

"I had always been a fan of the festival and then I went to a Rose of Tralee ball in Melbourne and it was just so spectacular."

She was joined at Tipperary Crystal's launch of the pre-festival tour in Dublin yesterday.

Another young lady heading to Tralee is part-time farmer and Galway Rose Orla McDaid (24). She inherited her uncle Brendan Hosty's farm in Co Roscommon several years ago.

She spent a significant portion of her childhood on the beef cattle farm and would often help her uncle during the calving season.

"I'd spend all my summers there," she said.

"I was very close to my uncle. When I was younger I used to go around giving dog food to the cows, and I remember my uncle knocking on the window in the night when a cow was calving.

"I am very blessed but it has been a challenge finding my feet in the industry.

"I hope I can show other women it is entirely possible to wear both wellies and high heels."

Longford Rose and special needs assistant Marie Brady feels the festival has adapted to reflect the modern day Irish women who are "real people in real-life situations in real jobs".

"I think it's changed a lot in the last few years and modernised. Last year's winner, Kirsten Mate Maher, that's what you call a modern Irish woman," she said.

Irish Independent

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