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29 Sept 2022

Kildare Rose says she had 'some unbelievable peak life experiences' at 2022 contest

Kildare Rose says she had 'some unbelievable peak life experiences' at 2022 contest

Kildare Rose Ashleigh Byrne. Picture: Aishling Conway

Newbridge’s very own Ashleigh Byrne wowed judges at the latest iteration of the Rose of Tralee.

The 25-year-old has said that she has had ‘some unbelievable peak life experiences,’ all from taking part in the contest.

Now that that the contest is over, Ashleigh has finally been able to sit down with the Leinster Leader to discuss the highlights of her experience.

She said: "There were so many experiences, like the Rose Ball, the live TV nights, the many gala dinners we went to.

"But one of my favourite places was visiting the lavender fields in Wexford. It was a beautiful setting, the sun splitting the skies and all of us had some free time to honestly just explore the field, being in nature was a breath of fresh air and gave us all a lift."

TOUCHING MOMENT

Ashleigh also detailed one heartfelt moment in Wexford: "There was one moment in Gorey that I’ll never forget: there was a young girl who was both excited and nervous by the roses all at once.

"You could see she wanted to interact but might have been slightly shy to approach. Me and a few other roses clocked her and we bent down to say hi.

She continued: "Her face lit up, she took a few steps towards us. We were complementing her on her dress and we were telling her how beautiful and strong she looked.

Ashleigh Byrne, along with fellow Rose of Tralee contestants, tried axe throwing at Carton House

"The little girl turned to her Ma, almost to make sure she still had near her. When she turned around more of us had gathered around all of us were saying hello to the little girl and giving her all of the attention and smiles and light we could manage.

"That little girl completely absorbed that moment so purely. She was shaking with excitement and jumping up and down. She had all of us in tears at her; I knew in that moment that little girl allowed us into her heart.

"When I walked away, I was in tears at how genuinely beautiful that experience was with a complete stranger.

She concluded: "That’s the magic of wearing the sash, that’s the magic of the festival: (To have)the opportunity to share those moments with complete strangers."

ICE BATH

What arguably made Ashleigh stand out to viewers was her interest in taking ice baths.

She said she first got into taking ice baths in her first year of college: "I would say the moment I felt the first whisper of the healing the cold brings to your mind body and spirit I was hooked."

Commenting on Daíthí O' Sé's dip into an ice bath, she said: "I’m not joking you when I say Dáithí was a new man back stage after that Ice bath! He walked into the green room glowing, eyes bright and face refreshed.

"He even said he’d do them again."

Speaking about the winner, she said: "I’ve no doubt Rachel (Duffy) will smash her time as the Rose of Tralee. I’m really looking forward to watching her grow this year and (she) is a queen in my eyes."

'GRATITUDE'

Ashleigh also paid tribute to her friends and family who have supported her: "I have been completely overwhelmed at their joy, support and love they have shown.

"It has brought a huge amount of love and light to my family."

When asked if she would recommend any other woman to go for the Rose of Tralee, she said: "I feel you should do anything that you feel a resistance to.

"For me, the thought of putting myself out there on stage and being vulnerable was something that made me deeply uncomfortable, you might even say scared.

"But that’s exactly why I knew I had to do it, Because you don’t get anywhere by staying comfortable... growth happens when you're least comfortable. So I recommend trying anything that makes you slightly scared.

Ashleigh added: "I have two years left of being the Kildare rose, and I feel like I’ve had some unbelievable peak life experiences with the festival.

"So I’m very happy to cherish those memories and see what's next on the cards."

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