A blossoming bouquet of Laois Rose contestants

Entries still being accepted for the Laois Rose Selection night

A blossoming bouquet of Laois Rose contestants

By Lynda Kiernan lynda.kiernan@leinsterexpress.ie @laoisnews

Lots of excited new contestants for the 2017 Laois Rose competition have already signed up, after a busy information day at Laois Shopping Centre last Friday.

A delighted Sinead O'Neill, 23, from Clonaslee, cannot wait for her moment to shine as a Rose contestant, at the final in Portlaoise Heritage Hotel on April 30.

“When I was little I used to dress up in my communion dress and watch it with my cousins, we'd be lined up on the couch all dressed up,” she said.

Her sponsor is Fallons Pub in Clonaslee, and she joined up after the co-ordinators called in to Born boutique in the Shopping Centre where she works.

“I had thought about it before but never applied. My mother is just delighted, and my father is telling everyone,” she said.

A lifetime Irish dancer who hopes to one day open her own school, Sinead will be performing on stage in the Laois Final at Portlaoise Heritage Hotel in April, but organisers insist that party pieces are not necessary.

“A lot of girls coming up to us ask us if they need a talent, but you are not required to do a piece at all. We are just looking for modern warm confident women who are ambitious, intellectual, socially responsible and proud of their Irish heritage,” said Lyn Moloney from Laois Rose Centre.

“There is lots of interest today and we have had several girls sign up,” she said.

Laois Rose Kate Hyland was there to offer advice for new contestants.

“It's an incredible contest. Where else would you get the chance to travel Ireland with 64 strangers, and end up being such good friends? You have the ability to bring awareness to issues close to your heart, as well as having a bucket load of craic along the way,” she said.

Shortly off to volunteer in Belarus with a group of Roses, she will end her year by taking part in the New York St Patrick's Day parade representing her county proudly.

“I've had an unbelievable year, one that has given me many opportunities. I feel I've been able to help certain causes and bring awareness to many areas,” she said.

Watching the Laois Rose contestants pose for photos at Laois Shopping Centre was young Mary Grehan, 12 from Derrylamogue NS, with her auntie Carmel Lynch.

“I always stay up to watch it. I actually thought they were picking the Laois Rose today. I watched the parade when it was in Portlaoise, and I met all the Roses after, they were lovely and friendly,” said Mary, who wants to enter herself when she turns 18.

Sarah Dunne, 25, from Portarlington works as a pharmacy technician in Boots chemist and is still working on finding a sponsor.

“I hope it will increase my confidence and be a way of meeting new people, and I'd be proud to represent my county. When I was growing up i always wanted to do it, it's kind of a dream come true,” said Sarah, who hopes her macra on-stage training will stand to her for the live interview on Selection night.

Also at the launch was Phillippa Allan, aged 19 from Raheen, studying healthcare in Portlaoise College.

“I always watched it, then my cousin Sarah Jane went for it two years ago, and she told me to go for it. I am actually so excited now I can't wait,” she said.

There is still time to apply for the chance to represent Laois at the International Rose of Tralee this August.

To enter: log on to www.roseoftralee.ie/apply and fill out the application form or contact Lyn or Steve at the Laois Rose Centre or find them on facebook.

They are inviting clubs, societies, associations, businesses, family or friends to nominate a contestant.

Contact Lyn on 083 4631611 or Steve on 086 2505791 Email Laoisroseoftralee@gmail.com or steve@roseoftralee.ie