County hall is battling to keep the Rose of Tralee Regional Finals in Portlaoise.
A three year contract to host the lucrative weekend event is currently up for grabs, with big interest from several towns, including Killarney.
County Manager, Peter Carey is, however, hopeful Portlaoise will win the contract.
“At present, we are at the end of a three year contract, but we are aiming for a further three years. We have grown the festival, and our centrality is an advantage. I would be very hopeful,” he said at the launch of this year’s finals in Portlaoise last week.
For the past five years, Roses representing the counties of Ireland and countries further afield have gathered in Portlaoise for the semi-finals of the international festival. With their families and supporters in tow, they have given a valuable injection of cash to the local economy, from hotels and b&bs to pubs and shops. With a packed itinerary for their long Laois weekend, it has also been an ideal tourism showcase for the county, with Emo Court, Castle Durrow and Killenard on the intinerary. This year Abbeyfest, Abbeyleix cultural festival, is coinciding nicely with the Regional Final.
“It is hard to put a figure on it, but it is worth an awful lot to the local economy, obviously to all the hotels and places providing accommodation, and the pubs all benefit too,” the county manager said.
The communications manager of the international festival John Drummey declined to comment on the future but said they were delighted to again bring the event to the midlands, which previously had been in Kerry.
“The hotels and local businesses have been very supportive and welcoming. It’s very central, and it’s great to see what other counties have to offer. Over the three days while some of the girls are meeting the judges, the others have a busy schedule, with visits to Emo, Durrow and this year Abbeyfest,” he said.
There are 53 roses in total this year, which will be whittled down to 32 for the final held in Tralee next August, while hopes are high that the beautiful young Laois Rose, Niamh Bracken from Portarlington will make it to the final.