BY EMMA CONNOLLY
WEST Cork is well represented in this year’s Rose of Tralee festival with three escorts coming from this area; while the Cork Rose herself hails from Aghabullogue.
Erinn O’Connell took the 2018 title last Saturday night giving her an extra special reason to celebrate her 25th birthday on Tuesday.
A CUH nurse, the young woman wowed the audience on the night with a lively rendition of Imelda May’s ‘Big Bad Handsome Man.’
She’s the youngest of four siblings, Colm, Niamh, Eoin and Maeve, by eight years and decided to put her name forward for the competition in March after seeing lots of positive social media posts about it.
Erinn is also a keen sports woman playing camogie for her native Aghabullogue while also coaching underage camogie.
She’s looking forward to August’s Tralee festival as are Newcestown’s Pat Murphy; Dunderrow’s Darren Kiely and Rosscarbery’s Sean O’Regan who will each escort one of this year’s 60 Roses.
They’re just returned from a bootcamp in Kerry from where they got to mingle with their fellow escorts from around the country.
Darren is a 27-year-old teacher in Carrigaline Boys’ Primary School.
‘I teach a class of 35 senior infants so I’m ready for whatever the festival throws at me,’ he joked. ‘I put my name forward as I think it will be a good opportunity to meet new people and make new friends.’
A single man, he’ll be heading to Tralee after Inter-railing in Europe this Summer. Meanwhile 25-year-old Pat was inspired to take part by a friend from Ballinhassig.
‘He was an escort last year and hasn’t shut up about it since!’ he said.
The UL graduate, also single, works in Dublin as part of AIB’s real estate finance team. ‘This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – I’m very much looking forward to it,’ he said.
Sean O’Regan,a primary school teacher and also single, agreed. The 24-year-old said he was looking forward to taking part in the festival which celebrates Ireland’s culture and heritage.