Friday 18 January 2019

Saoirse thrilled with being a Rose and for Kirsten's victory

From cutting turf to pulling pints, Saoirse enjoyed every minute

Saoirse Walsh with winning Rose Kirsten Mate Maher
Saoirse Walsh with winning Rose Kirsten Mate Maher
Kirsten Mate Maher with her parents Kwalo and Jacinta

David Looby

The Wexford Rose, Campile woman Saoirse Walsh has described her week at the Rose of Tralee as a life-changing period in her life.

Saoirse, 27, congratulated her Waterford counterpart Kirsten Mate Maher on winning the competition. Saoirse achieved a life-long dream in getting to attend the Rose of Tralee as a Rose. She attended Kirsten's 21ts birthday party in July - a fundraiser for Pieta House - and has been in touch with her since. Kirsten hails from Mullinavat but was a Waterford contestant as she works in a boutique in Tramore. Her father Kwalo has worked in Integer (Lake Region) for over a year where is a very popular member of staff. Saoirse said: 'It was brilliant. It was disappointing not to get through but you are in a bubble for the whole week, so you don't really know what is going on in the outside world. It's not easy for everyone. You get so caught up in the excitement of the girls who get through.'

Describing the atmosphere in Tralee as phenomenal, Saoirse said she has made 56 new friends in the Roses she met and is planning to meet up with them both as a Rose at events like the New York St Patrick's Day Parade. 'We had a great week. We were upskilling: cutting turf in a bog and pulling pints in the Guinness storehouse. It gave me a great opportunity to represent the county.'

Saoirse was inundated with messages and cards of support and gifts from her sponsors. 'Looking back now I am so grateful for how helpful people were. I have a list as long as my arm of sponsors to thank.'

Saoirse is the first Rose from south west Wexford to compete in a long time and she relished the experience. 'It was really lovely. I got great support from people and businesses in Campile and New Ross. I was more disappointed for my sponsors than for me.'

She said the new judging format is fairer on Roses. 'Last year the selection was live on Facebook. I think it was a good thing they changed that.'

Among the highlights of her week in Tralee were the Rose Ball, the Fashion Show, the reception she got at the Rose Hotel, the Rose Parade and the Roses 10k run which she completed with her mother and sister. 'At the end of the day for me to get to Tralee as a Rose, having been such a fan over the years waiting for Roses to sign autographs for me in Tralee, it was always about getting down there. In 15 years there has only been one Wexford Rose on the telly. There was always a possibility that it wasn't going to happen as there were so many incredible girls.'

Saoirse attended a reunion with the Roses in Dublin and plans to march in the New York St Patrick's Day parade with them next year and to keep in touch. 'It was a life changing experience. It was heart-warming to make so many friends as nowadays people are working and travelling so it's quite hard to see friends. It was an amazing experience. I had friends travel from abroad to cheer me on and my family.'

Describing Kirsten Mate Maher, 21, as an amazing woman, Saoirse said: 'She is so fun and down to earth and easy going. She came in to the tea room the morning after and we had a moment before she was going to meet the press.'

New Ross Standard