I never really told anyone the real reason I entered the Cork Rose of Tralee, while of course I have always wanted to enter and I really did want to make new friends coming from an all male Engineering class, that wasn’t the whole story. So let’s put this image in your head, it was late March, hair was greased to my head, eyes were red and puffy from 72 hours of straight ugly crying as my disastrous relationship had ended for the final time and I was curled in a mess attempting to recover fragments of my sanity.
And then like a sign from some greater power the Cork Rose of Tralee ad appeared on my Facebook and I swear all it took was 20 seconds of courage mixed with pure Irish thickness in a very mature “I’ll show him” manner when I downloaded the form and entered it. I might add that the photo I attached to my application form was an earlier more flattering representation of myself. I pressed send and forgot all about it.
Until suddenly hours before my final exam, I was contacted by Denis Griffin, the coordinator and everything became real and the panic set in. It seems funny to remember the fear of meeting most of the girls for the first time back in Silversprings, I couldn’t even catch my breath. I don’t do well in social situations so this was me living way outside my comfort zone, practically paralyzed in an anxious incoherent bubble.
And yet this was single-handedly the best experience of my life and I was skeptical, when referred to as the Cork Rose family I felt pessimistic, how could 51 girls in competition ever resemble a family? And yet that was exactly what we were.
I felt people had this perception that the Cork Rose of Tralee was a “lovely girls competition” and yet when I reflect on the people I met in this competition I am so humbled by the strong, intelligent women that I got a chance to know, I was among PhD students, engineers, nurses, teachers and a few not-so-boring accountants with a few girl trained in martial arts. Girls so confident and self-assured that they could put themselves out there and allow themselves to be judged, to get up on stage and take on a crowd and do it high heels and a dress!
It was the loveliest experience from getting to meet the Cork Rose centre team and Denis’ Facebook videos and Will’s snapchats, to getting a bit too used to being helped off the bus by an escort in a suit. I had to hold back tears for the final selection night as I was so overcome by pride for the girls and how far we came together on this crazy adventure.
Ladies and gents you will never realise how much of an honour it has been to meet each and every one of you and Despacito will forever remind us of the summer we all became roses and escorts. To Aishling, our 2017 Cork Rose, you are an absolute lady and I can’t wait to cheer you on in Tralee….
Oh to oh to be, oh to be a CORK ROSE!