Rose escorts put to test in Ballyheigue

Escorts take part in annual 'boot camp' and join up with 'Half on the Head' team

Simon Brouder

The 58 escorts who will be on hand to help this year's Rose of Tralee contenders were in Ballyheigue this weekend to take part in the annual escort bootcamp.

The lads, who already came through an interview process in Maynooth back in April, had to pass a number of endurance tests and team-building exercises before they could graduate as fully-fledged Rose Escorts.

Among the group are four Kerry men Thomas Lynch from Castleisland who is returning having been crowned the 2017 Rose Escort of the Year; Daniel O'Connell from Inch; David O'Connor from Ballymacelligott and Ardfert native Gearoid Sheehan.

The 2018 escorts completed a range activities including a hike over Mount Brandon, cliff diving, water-skiing, cookery, swimming, kayaking, surfing, ironing and sewing.

This year's Rose Escort Boot Camp activities were supported by Kerry County Council and Kerry Civil Defence, under Civil Defence Officer Tom Brosnan and Kerry Fire Service, who played a major role in the transport and logistics of the event.

Over the course of the weekend, the Rose Escorts experienced the visitor facilities in Castlegregory, Ballyheigue, Banna, Dingle, Kerry Head and Tralee.

The organisers of the upcoming 'Half on the Head' half marathon and 10k run Maroin Godley and Mick Harkin were among the volunteers who put the escorts through their paces over the weekend.

Starting at Dromatoor slip the escorts were divided into teams and competed in a Kayak race, rowing and a spot of lobster fishing. From there they were whisked to the top of Maulin Mountain for a mountain bike relay, a trail run and a long puck competition.

Next it was on to Ballyheigue Golf Club for some putting practice and this was followed by a trip to the beach for a variety of events including a tug of war, dodgeball and an obstacle course.

The day concluded with a Hang Tough competition to test the physical and mental strength of the escorts.

"The escorts thoroughly enjoyed the day and many of them are planning to return to Ballyheigue on Saturday week to take part in the Half on the Head," said Mick Godley.

The Half on the Head takes place in Ballyheigue on Saturday June 16. For full details and to book a place visit