Sunday 17 December 2017

Mum of seven-year-old who is bidding to be next Rose of Tralee

Teacher Fiona grabs her chance for contest
Teacher Fiona grabs her chance for contest

A SINGLE mother was finally able to fulfil her dream of entering the Rose of Tralee following a change in the rules of eligibility.

Fiona Canavan (27), a trainee teacher who has a seven-year-old daughter Realtin, wanted to enter the competition a few years ago but her father had to tell her that she didn't meet the criteria.

“I was disappointed but I knew that some areas of the country are still quite conservative,” she said.

This year she was delighted to hear that the rules had changed.

“In the Evening Herald there was an article about this being the first year that they've allowed entrants who have children,” she said.

“I'm so positive about entering on behalf of other girls with kids.

“I think every girl would like it but it's taking the next step of sending in application,” Fiona said, explaining that the Rose of Tralee is a dream for the majority of Irish girls.

The new eligibility has allowed the woman, who is originally from Sandymount, to finally get a chance to become Dublin's representative at the Rose of Tralee.

On Saturday night, Fiona met the other 50 roses at the Rose Ball in Clontarf Castle and had her first experience in a ball gown.

Her family are enthusiastic about her entry into the competition and her granny even bought her the red shoes to match her ballgown.

“This is my last opportunity to enter and it's something I'm inspired by,” she said. “I think it's totally about personality and it's like the lovely ladies festival in Father Ted.” Fiona got pregnant with her daughter at Christmas time during her first year in college.


She finished the year but after the birth of Realtin she took a year out of her studies to get used to being a new mum.

“My plan was to take two weeks off and go back but I faced reality and took a year off,” she said.

Fiona then returned to Tallaght IT and completed the second and third years of her degree in physics.

When she was qualified, the young mum went travelling around the world with her little girl. She found herself in Cooke Island in the South Pacific.

“We ended up staying there for a year,” she said. “I got a job in the high school teaching computers but I promised I'd do my (teaching) qualification.”

Fiona turned down the job with the promise that she would return and she plans to make the move back to the island with Realtin in December this year.

Since she returned to Ireland Fiona has spent two years studying for a master's degree in physics and this year she is just completing her post-grad in education.

While studying she has been teaching in the CBS in James's Street in Dublin's city centre. “Teaching the boys in the school is the hardest job but I've fallen madly in love with it,” she said.

The semi-finals for the Dublin Rose are being held in the Airport Carlton Hotel on June 18 and 19 and in the Stillorgan Park Hotel on June 23 and 24.

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