Those tuning in to the Rose of Tralee tonight (Monday) and tomorrow don’t have an Offaly Rose to support, but the county does have two Rose of Tralee Escorts to cheer on.
The now famous Henry Healy from Moneygall is charged with taking care of New Zealand Rose Judeena Carpenter, while Cappincur’s David Carroll has been paired with Abu Dhabi Rose Sara Moffatt.
Fellow Escort and Tullamore RFC member Colin Draper from nearby Kilbeggan meanwhile has been charged with the care of Liverpool Rose Lisa O’Halloran.
A total of 32 Roses will battle it out on screen over two nights, with the 2013 Rose of Tralee crowned at the end of tomorrow night’s round of televised interviews by Daithi O’Se.
Last year saw Luxembourg Rose Nicola McEvoy crowned the 54th Rose of Tralee. This year Kerry Rose Gemma Kavanagh is 5/2 favourite to win the title of 55th Rose of Tralee.
Henry Healy told the Offaly Independent earlier this year that applying to the famous festival to become an Escort was something that was going to happen this year or never.
Henry celebrated his 29th birthday last Friday, August 16, and with the honour of being chosen as an Escort closed to him once he hits 30 he’s delighted he grabbed the opportunity this year with both hands.
In his biography Henry is described as a community activation leader whose interests include drama, going to the cinema and attending hurling and soccer games.
“It’s about the Roses,” he told the Offaly Independent however. “We’re there to ensure that the Roses have an enjoyable experience and that they don’t have to worry about anything.”
Henry’s charge is New Zealand Rose Judeena Carpenter. Judeena’s father emigrated to New Zealand in 1960 from Louth, while her maternal connections to Ireland are in Donegal.
The 25 year old graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English Literature in 2010. She’s currently working as a structural enginner in Christchurch, and she said it was her many Irish colleagues who encouraged her to enter the Rose of Tralee competition.
The captain of Cappincur’s GAA team and financial lines insurance underwriter David Carroll meanwhile will be on hand to make sure Sara Moffatt’s Rose of Tralee competition runs smoothly.
David and Sara are both interested in sport and fitness. Along with playing football locally, David has in the past taken part in a 67km adventure race and the “Hell and Back” peak challenge and dreams of one day cycling across America.
Mayo born and raised Sara meanwhile has taken part in a number of organised runs and sprint triathlons and hopes to complete a marathon in the future. Though not really a GAA fan, she has also recently joined her local ladies football team as a way to make new friends and stay active.
In Abu Dhabi 23 year old Sara teaches Irish dancing to children. Back in Cappincur David is also a fan of Irish traditions, but music rather than dance. He says he can give a good rendition of “Raglan Road”.
You can catch the first televised night of the Rose of Tralee festival tonight on RTE 1 from 8pm.
More details on Roses, Escorts and the festival are available at www.roseoftralee.ie, on Facebook and on Twitter @roseoftralee_.