“I’ve died and gone to heaven,” declared Garda Luke Butler after having his photo taken with the Rose of Tralee, Tara Talbot and Laois Rose, Niamh Bracken at Portlaoise Plaza last Thursday, April 26.
The two beautiful Roses brightened up Laois County Council’s rainswept headquarters where they launched the Regional Finals of the competition, back in Laois for the fifth year. This year’s 53 roses, their families and supporters will enjoy the hospitality of Laois from Friday to Sunday of the June Bank Holiday, coinciding with Abbeyfest and the Gordon Bennett Irish Classic Car Run.
A carnival atmosphere is promised for Portlaoise, with a funfair and music for all the family to enjoy, whilst once again the roses and their rosebuds will be sitting pretty in a parade of 55 vintage cars.
Reigning Rose Tara Talbot said she was looking forward to a fabulous weekend.
“I believe the hospitality is second to none. I have travelled all around Ireland but I really enjoy coming to Laois,” said Tara, who moved from Queensland to Dublin for a whirlwind year.
Laois Rose, Niamh Bracken from Portarlington thanked Tara for helping her adjust to her new role. She also thanked the festival committee and the county council.
“It’s going to be such an amazing weekend, I’ve only been Laois Rose for six weeks, and it’s already been fantastic,” she said, also thanking her sponsor and employer, Marcus Breslin, and organiser Sharon Preston.
Cathaoirleach John Bonham, after breaking into a line from the famous song, welcomed the Roses and thanked the sponsors and County Manager Peter Carey, who is also chair of Laois Tourism.
“You have put Laois on the map. The best of luck to the Laois Rose,” he said.
Mr Carey hopes to build on the festival.
“It’s incredible what it can do for your profile. There are amazing contacts and networking that result from a festival with such a strong international brand,” he said,.