Offaly Rose discusses 'severe' and 'intense' bullying in school
Offaly Rose Allie Leahy spoke about her experience dealing with "severe" bullying in secondary school for the first night of the Rose of Tralee International Festival Rose Selection on RTÉ One last night.
Allie said: "In my senior years of secondary school I had a very hard time. I missed a month of my sixth year but I'm here to tell the tale."
She went on to encourage people to "boost each other up rather than knocking each other down" and said that's why she decided to apply for the Rose of Tralee.
"It was severe and intense and it wasn't nice but, like, you go through these things in life and I wouldn't be the person I am today without that happening," explained Allie.
The Kinnitty native continued: "We change everyday and they're the hardest years, our teenage years. People change and if one of those girls were walking down the road today, you say hello, and you just pass yourself because if you're holding a grudge you're staying in the past rather than moving forward with your life and you're stuck in a bad place then so you just have to smile and wave."
Speaking about entering the Rose of Tralee, Allie said: "I was very reluctant (to enter.) I'm not going to lie I had one of my neighbours that really pushed me to do it and, like, I've had such support from family.
"People don't get it until you're in it. You just have to push yourself, go forward and see what comes out. I never would have done it unless everyone pushed me, no way."
Allie also said that she was diagnosed with dyslexia from a very early age. "It was very obvious but with the help of my teachers in school I was exempt from French and Irish but I sat them both for my Leaving Cert, went to the Gaeltacht three times and had an absolute blast."
Allie was also surprised during the Rose of Tralee festival by the arrival of her brother Tom who has been living in Melbourne, Australia for the past few years which was shown in a video during last night's festival coverage.
Allie has been working as a receptionist for Tullamore Pet Hospital for the past three years. She also coaches the underage Kinnitty camogie teams and this year is coaching the Under 14 team. She said that she can't hit a sliotar to save her life but that she is there for "the moral support of the girls" as a "a female figure in their life."
Allie is the daughter of Tom Leahy and Sam Hanneffy Leahy from Kinnitty and Portlaoise respectively. She has three siblings, Shauna, Tom and Keira.