Jeffrey Hovenden Keane
Three local men will represent Kildare as Rose of Tralee Escorts this weekend.
The 2018 Rose of Tralee International Festival will take place from this Friday August 17 to Tuesday, August 21.
Jeffrey Hovenden Keane (23), Conor Griffin (27), both from Kilcullen, and Niall Crean (25) from Leixlip are gearing up for the big weekend. There are some 57 Escorts lined up.
Jeffrey Hovenden Keane said applying to be a Rose Escort has always been something he was interested in.
“It’s always been a thing in the back of my mind, for my family there was always two big gatherings every year, the Eurovision and the Rose of Tralee,” said Jeffrey.
“I remember from a very young age a lot of the family would be pointing at myself and saying ‘one day you’ll be on there’.
“I travelled last year, I came home and I finished my Masters in Law at Trinity and looked at my summer and said ‘you know what, it’s a really good time to have a go’, it’s something I thought would suit me and it’s something I’m really excited about.
“For me it was an opportunity to put myself slightly out of my comfort zone and do something that I thought was exciting.”
The lads came through an interview process at the Glen Royal Hotel in Maynooth in April, and had to pass a number of endurance tests and team-building exercises before they could graduate as fully-fledged Rose Escorts.
They then spent three days in Kerry carrying out tasks to prepare for the Festival.
“We were put through our paces, military style training, cooking steaks on shovels, really being thrown out in the middle of Kerry. It was very exciting.
“Aside from that, it’s really just been prepping, getting the gear ready and organising."
The Escorts don’t know what Rose they will be paired up with, which leaves an element of surprise coming up to the big night.
However, Jeffrey has known Kildare Rose Grainne Carr for many years.
“Myself and Grainne actually won the Concern National Debate, we went to Ethiopia together so it’s good to have that link.”
Jeffrey’s family are all heading down to the Kingdom to support him.
“A lot of them are setting up camp around Tralee for the week,” Jeffrey laughed. I keep telling them that they can’t be making posters and stuff like that.”
Once the festival is wrapped up, Jeffrey will go on to train at a law firm in Dublin.