Delight for Sally Anne, our new Kerry Rose

Sally Anne Leahy pictured with her family and friends after she was announced as the new 2019 Kerry Rose at the Kerry Rose Selection in Ballyroe Heights Hotel in Tralee on Saturday evening.
Sally Anne Leahy pictured with her family and friends after she was announced as the new 2019 Kerry Rose at the Kerry Rose Selection in Ballyroe Heights Hotel in Tralee on Saturday evening.

Fergus Dennehy

All hail the new Kerry Rose for 2019, Sally Anne Leahy! The 27-year-old Causeway native was suitably shocked on Saturday night as her name was called out and even now, smiling ear to ear and beaming with happiness, sitting across from me in in The Kerryman offices on Monday afternoon, Sally Anne admits that the events of the last few days still haven’t sunk in.

"I remember waking up Sunday morning and thinking 'this is a dream, I must be living in a fairytale'. You never ever think that it will be your name that's called out. You're thinking it will be this girl or that girl but never yours," she laughed. "I was just shaking with shock. I remember Celine, she handed me the Kerry Rose sash and she just said to me: 'take it all in, take it all in'.

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The crowd was going insane, I was just standing up on the stage with the sash on and the bouquet in my hand and all my friends and family were in front of me and they were bawling. It's all just been amazing," she said. After being told year on year by her family that she should enter the competition, this year was the year that Sally Anne decided to throw caution to the wind and put her name forward. As she herself said, "I had nothing to lose."

Nothing to lose and everything to gain and speaking about her experience over the past few days, it sounds like she's already taken so much from the experience. "I've made some wonderful friends, I've gained so much confidence and even small things like meeting the escorts, the night at the dogs and going to Dingle, these experiences have made it worth entering," she said.

With the Rose of Tralee now fast approaching, Sally Anne says that it will be a slightly surreal experience for her.  "When you're a child, you're going around getting all the autographs off the Roses and you're seeing them in the parade and you never think that it'll be you doing all that, but this year, it will be me doing all that!" she laughed. A proud Causeway woman, she can rest assured that the entire village has her back after she received a round of applause from mass goers and a hearty congratulations from the parish priest on Sunday morning, just hours after her win. As for the one and only, Daithí, well according to Sally Anne, he's just an ol' "dote".

Two months out, the whole of Kerry is behind you, Sally Anne. In the words of your predecessor: 'Take it all in'.

Kerryman

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