Maria on her experience as Rose of Tralee so far …

I have been searching for a word to describe the past weeks. A word that could sum up all that I saw, heard and was apart of. I searched and I was unsuccessful. I couldn’t find it because…well, to be honest it doesn’t exist. It couldn’t exist. There is only the thesis of sentences below that I hope you will enjoy reading;

Every year probably unknown to some, 70 ladies are selected to become Rose’s. These 70 smart, beautiful, funny and hardworking women push the Rose of Tralee each year to become bigger and remain consistent in being the largest Irish festival in our diaspora. These Rose’s carve out their own history for their Centers, families and friends. They work with charities, great causes and work hard to ensure each person who crosses their path are greeted with a smile. They make difference – daily. The many thousands who view the Rose of Tralee from their living rooms only see 32 of these 70 on stage. The lucky 32 represent their fellow Rose’s in the 2500 packed Dome, as well as the million + who tune in from their homes.

I was apart of stories, moments and laughs with the 32 gentlemen who made our time in Tralee memorable. These Escorts don’t just show up looking dashing, well mannered and equipped for whats ahead of them. These Escorts work hard, harder then we do to ensure they are ready to make us Roses’ feel special and feel beautiful.

I got to witness how much work goes into this 55 year old festival, and folks it is a lot. The management team and the many volunteers make this celebration look easy. It’s hard to find a place where children and their parents can experience a family holiday, while friends of Rose’s can experience the craic all in the same place. But the people involved ensure that each year over 200,000 people show up and celebrate this great festival. They celebrate in style, in swag, in bliss of how great our culture is.

I am a Rose who may have only had one Center Rep in Tralee, but was fortunate to know I had many many supporters at home in Philadelphia shouting with the excitement of hearing “PHILADELPHIA” being called out after the long drum roll!

My heart is tied to many places and spaces. I am apart of the many stories of people who watched from their living rooms in Shrule, as well as the homes in Leitir Mor, in Carravilla and in Boston. All of these places and spaces “my homes”, welcomed me with open arms. Shrule being first, with over a 1000 people in attendance. It was an honor to bring the crown and sash across the Shrule river with blazing bonfires, screaming people and meet the many people who traveled and stayed to greet my family and me in the Community Center. I sat in a car and was driven around the beautiful landscapes of Leitir Mor and walked into a packed hall, which was no easy task to organize. I landed back to Philadelphia with a crowd at the airport, and many more who came out in full force to welcome me officially home in St. Declan’s Well. The memories of these welcoming’s will live with me forever. How lucky I am to know people from all over the world who welcome me with open arms.

Indeed the past few weeks have been a whirlwind. I am fortunate to be apart of a group – the best group, a team – the best team and better yet I am apart of the Rose family – the best family.

I believe imagery and a word go hand in hand in creating impact so I will be updating some social sites as I meet many faces throughout this year. As always the Rose of Tralee is the main arena for up to date information, so keep an eye on them.

And now I am off – to witness the lands of India with The Hope Foundation.

Maria girl