A Lunch in Honour of the Rose of Tralee at the National Press Club, Washington D.C.

The Rose of Tralee visits The National Press Club, March 15, 2014.The National Press Club welcomed the reigning Rose of Tralee, Haley O’Sullivan, 25, of Dallas Texas, who was selected through contests in communities in Ireland  and  countries with Irish decendants, worldwide, at a March 15 lunch in the Fourth Estate.

The town of Tralee in county Kerry in Southwest Ireland has held an August festival, during which the Rose of Tralee is selected, since 1959. Thirty two finalist Roses attend the festival whose ending ceremony and selection of the international Rose of Tralee is broadcast countrywide on Irish television and reported internationally.

The name of the contest echoes a evocative nineteenth century ballad about a beautiful woman named Mary from county Kerry, who was described as the Rose of Tralee.

According to Irish-American Club Member Tony Culley-Foster, who with Senator Mark Daly of Ireland and Bill McCarren, Club manager, organized the event at the Club for the fifth year, said the Rose of Tralee contestants are judged to be ” gifted, talented and beautiful, in that order.”

The Rose of Tralee  winner serves for a year as a “global ambassador for Ireland, North and South,” according to Culley-Foster.

O’Sullivan cited a trip to Belarus on behalf of Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children’s International Fund as one of the  highlights of her year so far.

Lauren Debueriis, 26, the Rose selected in the D.C. competition, attended the event. Debueriis, who was adopted by an Italian family, knew of her biological Irish heritage, and  has been connected to her Irish birth mother in recent years.

O’Sullivan, a seventh grade English teacher in Dallas, said she enjoys that age group because “You can motivate them to learn and have fun while they are doing so.”  But, she added, “I am an educator and not their mother.”

She appreciates her Irish-American heritage despite her grandfather’s emigration, forced by hardships of the time. “I can go back to the country my family came from and always feel comfortable and accepted there.”

The Rose of Tralee visits The National Press Club, March 15, 2014.Haley’s  grandfather, Joseph O’Sullivan, left his home on Bere Island, off the Southwest coast of Ireland, at age 17 and moved to San Francisco. She has visited her great uncle and other relatives who still live on the island.

Donegal television program director Shane Wallace interviewed O’Sullivan, Club President Emeritus John Cosgrove and Club President  Myron Belkind on behalf of on behalf of Donegal TV & the MHz Networks – Today’s – IRELAND TV -USA. The interviews will be tape delayed broadcasts in Ireland, the US and worldwide and include a special international NPC message from President Belkind to journalists in Ireland and the US.

The most senior former Club president and the current one described their own Irish heritage. John Cosgrove, president in 1961, said his Irish ancestors, by the name of Mead, migrated before the mid-nineteenth century famine that sent many Irish immigrants to the United States and settled in Pennsylvania.

Belkin joked that his grandfather emigrated from Russia in 1912 in a ship that skirted the Irish coast.  Belkin’s father, who sold insurance to many in the Irish community in Cleveland, Ohio, claimed an Irish connection based on the ship’s itinerary, Belkin said.

A visit to the NYSE on St Patrick’s Weekend!

It was such an honor to be invited to Ireland Day NYSE 2014, a great big thank you to Ireland INC founder Ian Hyland, Louise Delahunty CEO Delahunty Event Management, Executive Director Ireland INC & Director of Events Business & Finance Media Group.

Annual summit draws business, finance, tech, media, political leaders to NYC on March 14, 2014. Liam Neeson accepted award for Irish Arts Center…Wilbur Ross returns as a speaker …Dr. Martin McAleese honored for Outstanding Service to Ireland. The summit hosts more than 300 executives from leading international firms, including Fortune 500 companies, venture capital firms, entrepreneurial start-ups, market makers, policy makers and financial & life sciences organizations from the US, Ireland and around the world. Global business leaders, tech innovators, financial thought-leaders, media notables, government officials and more will gather for the one-day international business summit to engage on vital topics and participate in a leading networking platform for business interests worldwide, discussing and debating business issues under the “Ireland INC” brand.

The first formal discussion of the day, “Ireland and The World,” features panelists Dr. Martin McAleese, Chancellor, Dublin City University, Ireland; Paddy Cosgrave,The Summit Founder; F.ounders; Mark Little, CEO, Storyful; Paraic Duffy, Director General, Gaelic Athletic Association; Grainne Barron, Founder & CEO, Viddyad; Jason Richelson, Founder & CEO, Shopkeep POS; and moderator John Lee, of John Lee MEDIA and TallGrass Public Relations, Patrick Tully, American Ireland Fund.

Following a “Fireside Conversation” with Marcus Segal, Former COO of Game Studio Operations, Zynga and Spencer Reiss, Contributing Editor, Wired Magazine, the focus shifts to “Investing in Ireland” led by Martin Dickson, US Managing Editor, Financial Times with panelists Joan Burton, T.D., Minister for Social Protection; Wilbur L Ross, CEO, WL Ross & Co. LLC; Eileen Murray, Co-President & Co-COO, Bridgewater Associates; Joseph Papa, CEO, Perrigo Company; Peter Collins, Managing Director, Kennedy Wilson Europe; Susan Davis, CEO & Founder, Susan Davis International and Emer Gilvarry, Managing Partner, Mason Hayes & Curran.

During the Ireland Day Luncheon actor Liam Neeson, Honorary Chairman of Irish Arts Center, accepted an award on the IAC’s behalf, and Dr. Martin McAleese will be honored for his “Outstanding Contribution to Ireland.”

Ireland Day New York 2014 will conclude when key participants gather on the balcony over the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at 4:00 PM to ring the NYSE Closing Bell.

See full post and photos here on FacebookNYSE

American Ireland Fund & Gaelic Football

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The past few weeks have been incredibly busy with such fun events!!
The night after I arrived home from spending quality time with my rose family over in Belarus, I attended the second annual Emerald Gala with my fellow young leaders of the American Ireland fund. I was joined by my boyfriend Davey, my parents, my good friend Jordan, my sister and her husband, as well as many other friends. The fabulous meal was accompanied by fabulous speeches by some of the most influential members of the Dallas chapter of the American Ireland Fund. I am so privileged to be a part of such a fabulous organization. After the dinner it was time to loosen the ties and kick off the shoes for a bit of fun! Unfortunately the 9 hour time difference caught up to me rather early in the night but it was a fabulous time nonetheless.
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The following weekend I made the journey down to San Antonio to help represent Fionn Maccumhaill’s women’s Gaelic football team in the first official game of the season! Each and every girl on the team played their heart out and we were rewarded with the first victory of the season. Football season has to be one of my favorite times of the year. Nothing can beat having the excuse to travel with some of your best friends to different parts of the state to take part in some healthy competition. The team has grown so much in the past year and I am anxious to see where this season takes us.
Just 4 short days after San Antonio I hopped on a plane to join my fellow roses and escorts, once again, but this time on my side of the pond, in NewYork City to be exact!

Belarus – Chernobyl Children’s International Fund

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Just over two weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel to Belarus with my rose sisters on behalf of Adi Roche’s Chernobyl Children’s International Fund. It is hard to put this trip into words. All of us on the trip experienced a full range of emotions. There was so much joy in the smiles and laughs of the children yet we couldn’t ignore the reality of their lives. A group of the children put on a talent show for us and all I could think of was how normal these children were. The culture and intolerance these children are raised in is so incredibly limiting. Seeing how Adi has changed these children’s lives is so eye opening yet their future is still so bleak. When the children reach the age of 18 they are sent to a semiprison where there are no talent shows, no visitors to shower them with hugs, and no way out.
I think all of us on the trip left with a renewed commitment to not forget these children and to continue to fight for their futures. The Vesnova children’s mental asylum is what it is because of the kind and generous donations of the Irish community.

Back in Action

gaelic practice

Fionn Maccumhaill of Dallas is back in action as of last Wednesday! Yesterday was my first practice back since before the Rose of Tralee so it felt great to put on some boots and kick around the ball.
We are currently in our pre pre season, just trying to work on our overall fitness. I believe it is safe to say the bootcamp we did last night was definitely effective judging by my soreness level today!
Texas is starting the football season a bit earlier this year in hopes of wrapping things up before it gets too hot. Spring is a great time to be out on the field but by the time May and June roll around it gets a bit toasty.
Training last night was a great opportunity to clear my head of seventh grade language arts! Next week is finals week so we have been in full on review prep mode the last few days. Seventh grade (13 year olds) is the first year in school that students take cumulative exams over what they learned the previous semester so I am doing my best to prepare them and alleviate any unnecessary stress. Cross your fingers everything goes smoothly!

Let It Snow

snow

I hope everyone is staying nice and warm! We’re doing our best out here in Texas but it’s been unusually cold for this early in the season. I was greeted with an early birthday present Thursday night as it was announced school on Friday was canceled. I enjoyed the evening curled up on the couch with fuzzy socks and a cozy blanket. I tried to take full advantage of the unexpected free day on Friday by getting some Christmas shopping done but very few shops were actually open. Dallas tends to shut down when there is an ice storm.
Friday night Davey and I braved the weather and took a cab down to a local seafood restaurant called Ocean Prime for dinner to celebrate my birthday. The celebrations continued Saturday night at my parent’s house. My twin brother, Sean, and I enjoyed some delicious birthday cake my mom made. My mom says it’s hard to believe her youngest children are now 26!
My mom and I decorate my parent’s house the day after Thanksgiving every year so the house felt very festive and Christmas-y Saturday night. Davey and I felt a bit inspired and decided to decorate his house Sunday afternoon. The biggest challenge was chipping off bits of ice in order to hang the Christmas lights; that was a first for me!
Between the icey weather and the Christmas decorations it’s actually starting to look a lot like Christmas. I hope you and your family are making special preparations to enjoy this special time together!

Thanksgiving

Gobble Gobble Friends!friends of a
This past Thursday was Thanksgiving here in America. It was spent with family and friends and of course lots of food. I started out the morning with a solid run in honor of Friends of A. I am so thankful to be in good health and to have been connected with such a great group of people! After the run I was more than ready to dive into the food.
Each year I am left feeling like the holidays have snuck up on me and this year is no different! Believe it or not I only have one week before my students begin preparations for final exams. I am so excited now that the holiday season is fully upon us. I can’t wait to continue the holiday baking and festive get togethers. I hope you and your family are enjoying the season!

I will be back in Ireland the end of January to visit many different counties and of course meet up with my rose family.

Bere Island

uncle mick

After a fabulous night at the Radisson Blu St Helen’s my mom, dad, and I loaded up the car and started the trip down to Cork for a visit with my dad’s uncle.
After a few short hours in the car we finally arrived safely to a warm welcome at Murphy’s Ferry. Once on Bere Island my breath was taken away by the fabulous crowd that had gathered to welcome my family and me.
All of the children on the island had gathered in green cowboy hats and had prepared songs for our arrival. We were blessed with sunny skies and unseasonably warm weather. It was a spectacular afternoon.
We had a brief chance to socialize with the wonderful people who had taken time out of their day to come see us before heading off to my dad’s uncle’s house for a moment of relaxation with family. We spent the late afternoon chatting and eating delicious food before moving our party over to the Hotel for an evening of Irish dance, sing songs, drinks, and snacks.
Having the opportunity to connect with so many of the people who provided unwavering support during the festival made the evening so memorable.
The following day my parents and I visited the local school on the island before traveling to the heritage center that has been set up to display the rich history of Bere Island.
heritage center
bere island school
Our final stop of the day was a local nursing home in Castletown Bere before we once again hit the road back to Dublin!

Friends of A Ball

rose ball

Hello! Time seems to keep slipping away from me but I suppose that is because it has been packed full of so many wonderful events!
Last month I had the opportunity to travel back to Dublin as the guest of honor for the Friends of A Ball. I was overwhelmed by the out pouring of support from current and past roses and escorts. We all spent the night being transported back to the glamorous days of the rose tour! We were able to enjoy a fabulous meal with even better company and entertainment.
The night was held at the beautiful Radisson Blu St. Helen’s. The organization and effort put into this night by the Friends of A group was evident in every detail from the festive menus to the magnificently set tables to the speeches given by individuals I know were so close to Adrienne’s heart. The evening was seamless and enjoyed by all. The Friends of A have raised a total of 33,000 euros this year, completely surpassing their original expectations.
I am so lucky to have been asked to attend, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. The rose family was definitely at it again! Such a fabulous night.

Hello!!

Hello! I am so excited to be making my first official post on this blog. I cannot wait to add stories of my amazing experiences as I travel on this amazing journey.

I have to tell you, life has not slowed down one bit since I left Texas for the festival back in August! I arrived home to a warm welcome from my family and friends and hit the ground running! School started back the Monday after arriving home so preparations were in full swing by the time I joined in. The quick transition left little time to really comprehend what had actually happened in Tralee!

However, now with the school year in full swing I have had the opportunity to reflect on the amazing opportunity! I find myself replaying moments of the festival in my mind during odd times through out the day. It’s amazing how many inside jokes, hilarious stories, and ridiculous situations we experienced in just a few short weeks together.

Thankfully some of us will be reunited in just a week’s time! I am heading back to Dublin a week from Friday to attend a ball being sponsored by The Friends of A foundation. I am so excited to get back to Ireland and be able to see so many great people!

Following the ball I will be occupied with wedding festivities as my sister is getting married at the end of October! Shortly after that, the beginning of November, I will once again be reunited with my fellow roses. A group of North American Roses are making a weekend trip to Dallas to embrace their inner Texans! It is bound to be a great time including a birthday celebration for a certain Southern California Rose.

Now that the dust, or should I say glitter, has settled I am fully ready to represent The Rose of Tralee Festival as the 2013 International Rose of Tralee! I can’t wait for the good times to begin and I hope you’ll follow with me as I try to share an indescribable year of my life!

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