Just after 11.30pm last Friday night, the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel fell silent as they waited for the crowning of the 2013 Laois Rose.
Chairperson of the juding panel, former Rose of Tralee winner, Muirne Hurley had handed the all important envelope to compere Brendan Hennessy, who had the tough task of interviewing all 19 girls on stage that night.
But the silence was shortlived as Sarah Conlon was crowned Laois Rose for 2013 and the roof was almost lifted off the ballroom of the Heritage Hotel with the cheers of delight from her supporters.
As the outgoing Rose handed over her sash, Ben Tighe, who was also a judge for the competition, sang the Rose of Tralee to Sarah.
“I have massive shoes to fill,” Sarah said, referring to the outgoing Rose, Niamh Bracken.
“The other 18 girls are all fabulous and we have had a great day.”
Sarah thanked her sponsor, Dave Power and The Welcome Inn, who support a Rose every year, and the Laois Rose co-ordinator Sharon Preston and her team.
“You don’t realise the work that goes on behind the scenes,” she said.
The Portlaoise native recalled how she had entered the Carlow Rose while studying in Carlow IT and had met Brendan before.
“Brendan has been asked to drive us to the event. I opened the door of the car and he asked me if I had my bikini with me. I almost turned around to walk away,” she told the audience.
Sarah said she later pulled out of the Carlow Rose due to her college commitments.
Now working in Sales and Marketing in Dublin. She told the crowded ballroom in the Heritage Hotel that she was the only girl in her office with eleven men, who had started calling her ‘Rosy’ when they found out she had entered the Laois Rose. A nickname that is sure to stick as Sarah prepares for the Regional Finals which will take place in Portlaoise over the June Bank Holiday weekend.
After the show, Barbara Aldritt from Bankz Hair and Beauty offered Sarah free hair cuts, colours and styles for any events will attend as Laois Rose.
“I’m absolutely shocked, it has been an amazing experience,” Sarah said backstage.
She praised her sponsor: “Thanks to Dave Power from the Welcome Inn, he has sponsored Rose for the last nine years and has always been extremely generous.
“Niamh (Bracken) has done an amazing job, I hope I can be as good an amabassador for the county over the next 12 months.”