Nicola's vie en rose is a dream come true
SHE had only one-and-a-half hours' sleep, but newly crowned Rose of Tralee Nicola McEvoy was happy to perform her first official duties.
The 26-year-old secondary school teacher from Kerry Pike in Co Cork, won the title for Luxembourg for the first time.
And it closed a 13-year gap for a Cork woman to take the title last held by Geraldine O'Grady in 1999.
She was whisked off to Tralee Golf Club last night for the traditional presentation of prizes, following a busy schedule of interviews and photo shoots, which kicked off at 7.30am.
"When I woke up I looked over on the other bed and there was the beautiful crown and I said: 'I wasn't dreaming after all'. It's a fantastic feeling," she said.
Nicola had stayed up all night following her win, chatting to her mum and dad, Mike and Mary, and boyfriend of seven years, Eamonn Dunne.
As an only child, she said it probably made the occasion even more special for her parents.
Once the dust has settled, she and Eamonn will have to make some big decisions for the year ahead.
The couple emigrated to Luxembourg two years ago. Before that she worked in Kent, in England.
She said she would like to teach in Ireland but finding a job had been difficult.
"Eventually that would be the ideal scenario, but permanent positions are difficult to find, particularly with my mix of subjects -- history and geography.
"I'm very lucky to have a job in Luxembourg but definitely the future plan is to settle in Ireland," she said.
She said that although she doesn't know all 2,000 Irish people in Luxembourg, she was getting there.
The Black Stuff pub in Luxembourg was thronged on Tuesday night and Nicola suspected there would be "a few sore heads" the following day.
"The texts have been flying and I haven't had the chance to get to all of them yet," she said.
Nicola was also looking forward to catching up with her grandparents, May and Jim, from Summercove in Co Cork, who celebrated her win at home.
"I haven't spoken to my grandparents yet but, apparently, their house in Summercove was hopping last night.
"They're 87 and 88 so it would have been too much for them to come down.
"My granddad always sings the song 'The Rose of Tralee', it's his party piece, so he's going to have to sing it again," she added.
As for the other 31 contestants, who were officially released from Rose of Tralee duties at 3am on Wednesday morning, some were making their way home yesterday.
All will be invited back to Tralee again next year for a reunion, the first time an attempt has been made to have all past Roses and contestants in the one place as part of 'The Gathering'.