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Obama's cousin Henry to be a Rose of Tralee escort

One of Ireland most eligible bachelors is to be an escort at this year's Rose of Tralee festival.

Henry Healy, Barack Obama's eighth cousin, is one of 32 men chosen from nearly 200 applicants to escort this year's Roses.

But it was a case of now or never for the 28-year-old, who celebrates his 29th birthday during the festival in August.

There is an upper age limit of 30 for men who wish to be considered for the best summer job in the country.

"It's something I've always thought about doing," Mr Healy said.



"Fellows can't be Roses but this is how we can be involved. If I didn't do it this year, it would've been too late."

Henry and the other 31 escorts will be put through their paces at a two-day boot camp in Ballybunion to get them fit for the competition, having already gone through an interview process.

They will first have to survive gruelling bootcamp activities that are being organised by the Civil Defence, Kerry County Council, Ballybunion Leisure Centre and Ballybunion Development Council.

Apart from being a distant relative of the US president, Mr Healy also stood out for judges because of his involvement in his community.

Not only was he a key player behind the historic visit of his cousin to Co Offaly last May, he is also a leader with the national organisation Ireland Reaching Out and a member of Moneygall Development Association.

Mr Healy is now in with a chance of being named the Newbridge Silverware Escort of the Year, to be announced during the live television show on August 19.

This year's Rose of Tralee International Festival will take place from August 14 to 20, two days longer than usual because of the Rose Gathering, which has invited back anyone who has ever taken part in the festival over the past 54 years.