ALMOST four hundred people packed into the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel, last Friday night for the crowning of the 2013 Laois Rose.
Interest in the Rose of Tralee competition is increasing every year, and this year 19 girls took to the stage.
Performing arts student, Roisin Ryan, kicked the night off with her rendition of ‘On My Own’ from the musical Les Miserables.
Jenny Coogan entered the Laois Rose for her grandad who is originally from Laois but moved Carlow. The musically talented lady had previously played for the Presentation Band, Carlow at the Rose of Tralee.
The youngest Rose, Charlene Duff, had the audience up and moving with her ‘repeat after me routine.’
But it was the last Rose of the night who left a lasting impression, as Sarah Conlon was crowned Laois Rose for 2013.
The current Rose of Tralee, Nicola McEvoy spoke of her fond memories of the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel, where she took part in the Regional Finals, last year.
She was full of praise for all the girls who had graced the stage before her.
“Well done girl, it takes guts to get up here. You all did yourselves, your families and Laois proud,” she said.
She described the out-going Laois Rose as ‘beautiful, charming and intelligent.” Words that have been echoed around the county over the last twelve months whenever Niamh Bracken was nearby.
Steve Cronly, from the Rose of Tralee Internation Festival thanked the sponsors - Portlaoise Heritage Hotel, Bankz Hair and Beauty and the Leinster Express for their support on behalf of Sharon Preston. He said the Laois Centre was one of the biggest due to the support from local sponsors.
“It’s incredible to have so many. We are living in a very difficult climate, but without the sponsors locally, we wouldn’t have Rose of Tralee.
“This is where it begins, without local centres there wouldn’t be a Rose of Tralee. It’s fantastic, it’s one of our biggest centres in Ireland so thank you to each and every one.”
An emotional Niamh Bracken brought tears to the eyes of everyone as she thanked her family for their love and support in her final speech as Laois Rose.
She told the audience about her recent trip to Chernobyl, an experience she said she would never forget.
One of many highlights of her year was walking in the New York St Patrick’s with some of the other Roses.
Niamh fought back the tears as she described her proudest moment was visiting her home town of Portarlington during the Regional Finals, last year.
Sharon Preston said it had been a busy but successful day.
“We have a beautiful Rose now and we will be rocking the regionals in June. I am sad to lose Niamh, she has become a good friend,” she said.