It’s all coming up roses at Portarlington Presentation Primary School, where two teachers are participating in the Rose of Tralee this year.
Laois Rose Kate Hyland from Clough, and Abu Dhabi Rose Dearbhladh Walsh, are the best of friends, and both are thrilled to be in the Rose of Tralee together this August.
Kate, 27, teaches second class at the school. She was selected as Laois Rose last week, and is overjoyed for her colleague, who is on a year long career break to experience life as a primary school teacher in the Gulf state.
“It’s terrific having Dearbhladh as a fellow Rose. We have worked together, lived together and are great friends. It will make this year extra special knowing that we are going through it together. We’re both highly supportive of each other and cannot wait to make the journey to Tralee,” Kate said.
Over in Abu Dhabi, Dearbhladh, 24, is thrilled with the honour, and looking forward to a special week in Tralee.
“I am absolutely over the moon to have been selected as the Abu Dhabi Rose of 2016. When I heard the news Kate was crowned Laois Rose I was absolutely ecstatic. I can't wait to go and meet all the other girls with Kate and make life long memories. She will be a brilliant ambassador for Laois and I am so delighted for her. Being from the Offaly side of Portarlington it may be the first time I can't wait to support Laois,” said Dearbhladh.
The principal of the school is Margaret Walsh, who is also Dearbhladh's proud mother.
“I am delighted for the two girls. The school children are very excited, it’s great for the school. Both of them are very supportive of their communities. I am very proud of Kate, she is a real Laois woman, a great asset to the school as she teaches camogie and music to the children. But to have Dearbhladh as a Rose as well is the icing on the cake,” she said.
The Abu Dhabi selection night was on February 26 in the Westin Abu Dhabi, hosted by Irish MC Gari Deegan, with nine Irish ladies contesting.
A daughter of Margaret and Billy, Dearbhladh has two older brothers Ronan and Paul, and is from the Offaly side of Portarlington, in Kilkeeran.
She plays football for the Abu Dhabi Na Fianna GAA club, and lives in Mohammad Bin Zayed city.
“She is loving it out there, there is a huge Irish contingent and she has made lots of friends,” said her mother.
A multi talented musician, Dearbhladh sang Elton John’s ‘Your Song’ for her stage interview, and had her aunt Joan Gordon and cousin Lorraine Gordon for support on the night.
Her win includes flights home for the Rose of Tralee in August, diamond earrings and designer clothes, and she is being kept busy on official duties in Abu Dhabi.
A big Laois contingent of supporters is expected to head to Tralee in support.
This year 68 Roses will undergo two nights of preliminary stage interviews with Daithi O Sé starting on August 17. The final 32 will be interviewed live on television over two nights, with a ‘behind the scenes’ program giving a look at every Rose.
“I really hope our two roses make it to the final stage, it would be so exciting for all the children, they are both a great example,” said the proud principal.