Kildare Rose Hannah Ryan is hoping to become the first Lily since 2008 to grace the famous Dome stage for the International Rose of Tralee competition this August.
However, first she will have to battle through the regional finals in Portlaoise this June Bank Holiday weekend.
Newbridge girl Hannah, 23, is an economics and finance graduate who has just finished an internship with Ernst and Young. She is due to start her masters in Economic and Financial Risk Analysis at NUI Maynooth in September.
It’s been a busy few weeks for Hannah since she was crowned the Kildare Rose at a gala night in the Killashee House Hotel at the end of April.
“The first event I was involved with was the launch of Junefest a couple of weeks ago in the park in Newbridge. And myself and some of the other Roses also presented a cheque to KARE which was the proceeds from the raffle on the Rose of Tralee selection night,” she said.
Hannah has also become somewhat of a local celebrity among her friends, family and workmates. “I’m overwhelmed at the support I have been getting, from people I have not seen for a while, friends and family. The house was like a florists’ for a couple of days,” she joked.
And it seems her colleagues in the strait-laced financial world were not immune to a little Rose magic either. “Everyone in work was delighted for me as well - they were saying ‘we have a Rose in our midst!’ It’s also surprising how many people have a connection to the festival, through a relation who was a Rose or a friend who was an escort, as well.”
Hannah is getting some expert mentoring from 2008 Kildare Rose Denise Healy. The Curragh native was the last Kildare Rose to make it to the Tralee final.
Athy’s Charmaine Kenny, who is currently studying for an MBA at Stanford University in California, was also in touch with tips and advice. Charmaine, representing London, was the 2009 International Rose of Tralee.
“They both said to go and enjoy the week and be yourself - there’s no point in going down and putting on a personal for the judges. I’m looking forward to meeting the International Roses and the other girls as well,” said Hannah.
“I’m kind of hoping that, since there has been no Kildare Rose in Tralee since Denise, I’ll have a bit of luck on my side as well,” said the Roseberry, Newbridge, contestant.
Some 61 Roses, both Irish and from further afield, will compete over three nights at the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel, but just 23 will make it through to Tralee. The contestants have a comprehensive programme of activities ahead of them, including visits to local schools, a vintage car parade and trips to attractions including Castle Durrow.
Hannah will take to the stage for Kildare on the Saturday night in a blue teal grecian-style dress, sponsored by Glamour Dresswear in Clane. She also hopes to pop in to her Kildare Rose sponsors, Shades ‘N Shapes hair salon in Newbridge, to dress her tresses before heading to Portlaoise.
Hannah wowed the audience at the Kildare Rose finals with a stunning rendition of ‘Nella Fantasia’. A student at the Brendan Hartnett vocal academy in Newbridge, she plans to sing ‘Time To Say Goodbye’ in the Regional Finals as her ‘party piece’.
Cheering Hannah on will be her mum, Holy Family Secondary School principal Angela Ryan, dad Raphael and younger brother Daniel, along with friends from work and college.
Several of her friends from the Kildare Rose competition have also promised to make the trip to Portlaoise to cheer on the Lily Rose.