Eddie Fitzpatrick, Cathaoirleach of Offaly County Council, Rose of Tralee Rachel Duffy from Rosemount, Offaly Rose Allie Leahy with in front Sadhbh Bergin and Amelia Teehan in O’Connor Square, Tullamore. Photos: Ger Rogers.

Roses put spotlight on Offaly's gems

Offaly was in the national spotlight this week as the glamour of the Rose of Tralee descended on the county for two days this week.

The 32 contestants enjoyed a trip to Offaly as part of the Rose tour ahead of the festival which kicks off today (Friday) and runs until Tuesday, August 22.

Cllr Neil Feighery was invited to meet the Roses when they first arrived at O'Connor Square in Tullamore along with other local councillors and politicians on Tuesday last. He said: “It was a lovely meet and greet with the 32 International Roses. It was a lovely event and the sun shone.”

He added that Ballyboy Comhaltas entertained the crowd there before speeches were made. Finally, there was a ceilí and Irish dancing in the library before the Roses enjoyed a trip to the Tullamore DEW Distillery Visitor Experience for some whiskey tasting. They then attended the Mid-Summer Rose Ball in the County Arms Hotel in Birr at which they enjoyed a cocktail reception and four-course dinner.

Tullamore D.E.W. Global Ambassador, Kevin Pigott, said: "We had the wonderful Roses stop by on their tour of the midlands to see our award winning distillery experience. They had a lovely photo opp with two Irish wolfhounds Grace and Boann. Tullamore has had Wolfhounds on our whiskey bottle for 70 years as they were the perfect symbol to reflect the whiskey character-gentle yet strong.

"Then the guests came inside for a sneak peek of our whiskey experience whilst they learnt how to make the perfect Irish coffee. We finished off by teaching about how we make our famous signature triple blend recipe before they flew off to their next adventure."

On Wednesday last, the Roses visited Birr Castle, took a boat trip on the River Shannon and toured the monastic site of Clonmacnoise before having lunch at the Old Fort in Shannonbridge.

Fergal Moran from the Old Fort in Shannonbridge said that the lunch went great and that the Roses were at the restaurant for about an hour.

“We brought them up on the roof for a group photo.” Mr Moran added that he thought the girls were happy to get a nice, light lunch. “We had a few people in here before they arrived to welcome them in.”

The Roses also had the opportunity to see the new history exhibition in the Old Fort. Mr Moran said: “They took a few photos and videos which was great to help us launch that. Our own staff was great and they enjoyed it as well.”

The new exhibition explores the history of why the fort was built and has been described as one of the most unique Napoleonic forts.

On Thursday, the girls visited Moneygall, Templemore, Causey Farm and Limerick.

The 2023 Rose Tour is sponsored by the Road Safety Authority and will conclude on arrival to Tralee today (Friday) for the start of the 2023 Rose of Tralee International Festival.