Monaghan Rose hopes to pluck top marks for nursing dream
Monaghan's Rose of Tralee contestant Maria Murnaghan (18) will be among the 58,000 students getting their Leaving Cert results this morning.
But she said that competing in this year's festival is proving to be a welcome distraction when it comes to getting her all-important exam results.
"My nerves aren't too bad because there's so much happening that you haven't really time to think about it, which is really good.
"The other girls were saying to me 'Oh you're getting your Leaving Cert results this week' and I was like 'God, what day is it?'
"There's so much happening that you're just going with the flow and at least if they don't go well or whatever, then I won't be dwelling on it because I'll be getting ready to go to something else and I'm with a great bunch of girls as well."
Currently in the middle of the Rose Tour, the student from Laragh will be down in Kerry today when she gets her results, and said that she's always had her heart set on becoming a nurse.
"I put down every college in Ireland for nursing, I can't even remember what I put as my first choice," said Maria. "I also went for a PLC course and I got accepted into Monaghan Institute and it's starting on Tuesday, August 29, if I want to go for it.
"I want to be a nurse and I'm going to get there - I don't care how long it takes."
She said that she loved "meeting new people" and described competing in the competition as "more exciting than getting your results".
She had her school debs on Monday night but had to miss it as she was staying in the Glenroyal Hotel in Maynooth with her 63 fellow Rose contestants
"I didn't really mind. I was dressed up and we had a ball anyway with all the other girls," she said.
A student at St Louis Secondary School in Carrickmacross, she is also the youngest Rose competing in this year's event, and she found out that she was chosen as Monaghan's entry just before sitting her Leaving Cert.
This year's high-achieving bunch of Roses includes a qualified doctor, a retired Irish dancing world champion, a biochemistry student and a qualified psychologist.
Taking place at the Dome in Tralee, the televised event is on August 21 and 22 and will be presented for the eighth year in a row by RTÉ's Dáithí Ó Sé.
The number of Roses competing will be cut down from 64 to 32 by this weekend after organisers decided not to film the selection process again, after last year's process was deemed insensitive by viewers.