ELEVEN of Laois’ finest young ladies battled it out in the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel, last Wednesday night, but only one could be crowned Laois Rose.
That honour was bestowed upon Sinead Fennel who represented Graiguecullen GAA at the finala. The Sleaty Road girl, who is aged 21, is already promising to share her favourite food of ‘egg in a cup’ with regional’s host Dáithi Ó Sé.
“A bit of salt, a bit of pepper and a bit of butter with a slice of toast, sure you can’t beat it,” laughed the Graigue rose.
Sinead’s father, Andy Fennell couldn’t be with his daughter in the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel, last week as he was in Cheltenham at the racing festival. But Brendan Hennessey reminded the audience that Andy and his brother Mick had played football with Laois.
A nursing student, in DCu, Sinead was to only contestant to come through a qualifer contest.
Speaking after Sinead had been crowned, co-ordinator, Sharon Preston said she was delighted with how the night had gone.
“We had a very close knit group this year. As there was only eleven girls, we have met a few times. We’ve had the nicest few weeks together. I am as proud of the eleven as I am of Sinead. I’m sad that it’s come to an end tonight, but I’m delighted for Sinead and I know she will do us proud at regionals,” she said.
The event organiser also praised the outgoing Laois Rose who proudly represented her county in the Kingdom last year.
“Bernadette (Ryan) was an amazing ambassador for the county and I really want to see the Laois sash on stage in Tralee again this year,” said Sharon.
Deciding on a winner was not an easy decision for the three judges – 2006 Westmeath Rose, Edel O’Connor; Colette Murray from the Wicklow Rose Centre and former escort Enda Carey.
As always there was plenty of one-liners and laughs from the host, as he tried to persuade Vanessa Condon to use her beauty therapy skills on the cruise ships. Representing the Portlaoise heritage Hotel, Vanessa was very definite that she did not want to work on the cruise ships despite Brendan’s best attempts to persuade the young beauty therapist.
Rachel Taylor-Fawsitt left the gym ball at home this time, as she made a second attempt to take the crown. But it was her brother Kealin who performed a party piece as he had an impromptu performance of ‘Bring Him Home’. Kealin was taking part in last weekend’s Young voice of Laois competition in Durrow.
There was also bubbly Gemma Burns from Mountmellick, who would like to meet boxer Katie Taylor. She recited a Percy French poem, ‘Ach, I dunno.”
Just before she handed over her tiara and sash, the Laois Rose for 2010, Bernadett Ryan, said it was a bittersweet moment.
“It’s been a fast, furious and short year I was honoured to represent Laois and it was incredible to be chosen,” she said.
Steve Cromley, national co-ordinator for the Rose of Tralee festival paid tribute to Sharon Preston.
“She is fantastic for keeping the competition going here in Laois, without her Laois wouldn’t be alive and kicking,” she said.
Mr Cromley conveyed apologies from Rose of Tralee, Claire Kambamettu, who had a prior engagement last week in Washington with USA President, Barack Obama.
The full list of contestant Gemma Burns, Vanessa Condon, Sinead Fennell, Kellie McNamara, Denise Culletion, Lorrain Delahunty, Shauna Farrell, Sheyrl Moody, Claire Mooney, Emma Scully, Rachel Taylor-Fawsitt.
Sinead Fennell now qualifies for the regional finals which will be held in Portlaoise this summer.