Portlaoise is bracing itself for the arrival of 54 lovely ladies from all corners of the world this weekend, for the Rose of Tralee Regional Finals.
Local hopes rest with Portarlington’s Niamh Bracken, who is hoping to become the third successive Laois Rose to grace the stage in Tralee.
The Regional Finals will bring together Roses from the USA, Ireland, Britain, Europe, Canada and United Arab Emirates and the selection nights, will be hosted by Dáithí Ó Sé. It will be Dáithí’s last public engagement before he ties the knot with 2008 New Jersey Rose, Rita Talty in July.
Seven Irish Roses will be chosen to go forward to the televised selection in August, while 16 International Roses will also have to come back for the big event in The Dome.
Laois Tourism Officer, Dominic Reddin said the county was proud to host the Regional Finals again this year.
“Laois is proud to host this prestigious festival again this year and the organising committee, Laois County Council and the business community look forward to making the festival an even bigger success over the coming years.
“The festival is extremely important to the County and has major potential to attract large numbers of visitors to Laois. In these difficult economic times, festivals such as this will generate much needed revenue for hotels, B&Bs, pubs and restaurants.”
He also wished Niamh good luck for the finals and said he hoped she makes it through to the international festival in Tralee.
While preparing for their big stage interview, the Roses will take time out in between to visit some of the local sights and attractions such as Emo Court, St Vincent’s Hospital, Mountmellick; Portarlington, and Portlaoise Shopping Centre.
On Thursday, some of the Roses will visit Emo House and Gardens, before they all get together for dinner and entertainment in The Maldron Hotel, Portlaoise.
They will all attend the official opening at the Civic Plaza on Friday at 3.30pm, which will be attended by local dignitaries and Rosebuds from local schools.
On Saturday the town will have a carnival atmosphere as Niamh will lead the vintage car parade, starting at 2.30pm. The route will depart from Civic Plaza, along James Fintan Lalor Avenue, Main Street, back to JFL Avenue and to Civic Plaza. Funfair, musical entertainment for all the family and to top it all off, the Gordon Bennett Irish Classic Car Run which is open to all vintage veteran and classic cars, motorcycles and commercials registered prior to 1980.
The final selection night will also take place on Sunday night, and the 23 Roses who will travel to Tralee in August will be announced.