Katie Kehoe, this year's Offaly Rose at just 20 years of age is eagerly anticipating being part of the Rose of Tralee Festival.
“In January when I entered I never thought I would do it,” she said. Katie had not thought about entering the competition before but one of the women from the Offaly rose centre messaged her. She did not hesitate and believes that this is the key thing about the festival; that it encourages a willingness to be spontaneous and to try new things. “The second I got the text I said 'Grand". Despite her youth and the fact that Offaly Rose Jennifer Byrne is the reigning Rose of Tralee Katie never felt any pressure or saw the Rose of Tralee as a competition. “I am very lucky to have her to talk to and get advice from. It's exciting to follow in her footsteps.”
A keen sportswoman, it is hard to imagine how Katie has enough time for the festival. Katie plays football and camogie for her club and with Offaly Ladies Football team. She has three sisters and plays with two of them at club and county level. She also coaches young children every Saturday morning and trains minors twice a week. Although it is time consuming, Katie finds it very “satisfying” to see them through championships and perform well during matches.
This attitude is something that Katie is bringing as the Offaly Rose. The student teacher commented on how it is fantastic for such a small county to stand up and be represented in Tralee. “As a Rose you're really representing everyone in your county. I've always felt pride of place.”
The biggest challenge in preparing for the festival was trying to sort out outfits for the ten-day festival. At first Katie looked around shops in the locality but received a good response after seeking sponsors for dresses to help ease the load. “A dress designer in Crinkill is designing my Dome dress.” In the meantime Katie just has to worry about packing her bags for the Festival in August.
Katie is entering her third year of Primary School Teaching at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick this September. “In school I was unsure what I wanted to do and was in two minds between nursing and teaching.” Katie loved school and teaching others ever since she was very small. Teaching also enables her to play her own sport in the evenings and continue training young people.
Katie says it has always been a big deal in her house to sit down and watch the festival every year. “Last year I missed the start of it and I was raging. Granny is a big fan and sometimes we go over to watch it with her.”
The Offaly Rose highly recommends women to consider applying for the Rose of Tralee next year. “I couldn't stress enough how great of an experience it is. I'm not even two months selected and it's been such a whirlwind of excitement and fun.” Katie will travel to Tralee in mid August and the festival takes place from Friday, August 17 to August 21.