Laois Rose 2018 Grainne Hogan on stage with Dáithí Ó Sé in Tralee
Our 2018 Laois Rose Grainne Hogan, a dairy farmer from Camross, won the admiration of the country for her honest hard work ethics, when on stage with Dáithí O Sé in Tralee last August.
Grainne gave Dáithí a comical lesson in milking, and explained how “school wasn’t for me, I’m all about the animals”.
Looking back now she is proud.
“My message was just that whatever you want to do, go and do it. When I was growing up, I didn't think anyone would take me seriously about wanting to be a farmer. I realised in college after a few weeks that I would be well able, and if I hadn't pushed myself I wouldn't have tried it,” she said.
She treasures her memories of the Tralee festival, which began with a luxury tour in Kildare.
“I had met most of the Irish Roses already but we met the International Roses and it was a great time to chat. The bus down was great craic with sing songs. It still feels like we are a big family, escorts included. We have a WhatsApp group and we still meet up,” she said.
In Tralee the Rose parade was a big highlight for Grainne.
“The welcome was fantastic. Despite the rain there were crowds out on the street and all the kids were asking for autographs with little books made up with our photos cut out from the RTE guide. Just wearing the Laois sash there was special,” she said.
Her milking cow demo went down great in Tralee.
“I don't take myself too seriously,” she said.
She was proud to share the experience with her mother Anne, brother Eoin, nana Sadie, aunts and cousins, all there in support.
“It wasn't just for me, it was for them, To see them all out enjoying themselves was great,” she said.
Grainne made the difficult choice to skip the Rose of Tralee appearance in the New York St Patrick's day parade, to stay with her beloved cows for the busy calving period.
“It would have been lovely to walk in the parade, but I felt I couldn't miss what was going on here,” she said.
She has helped to bring about 100 calves into the world safely in the past two months, on the Dooley farm where she works .
“I have learned so much, it is the first year that I am doing some of it by myself. Tim, Noel and Breda are up at night with calving so I've been trying to take the pressure off them. You can see when a cow is ready to calve, you have to check how big the calf is, then when you see the head coming, they drop out and give a little cough. To walk away and see the cow licking her calf, it's just fantastic,” she said.
Grainne combined her Laois Rose duties with work, visiting schools and launching events.
At the National Ploughing championships, she launched a farm safety awareness campaign for her chosen charity Embrace FARM, which supports families bereaved by farm accidents.
“It was such a privilege to get to work with Embrace, and meet people who had lost someone. We think a day on the farm is just another day, but you have to take your time and be safe,” she said.
She thanks her sponsor Lar Hogan from Sheeran's Pub, and the previous Laois Roses who all supported her over the year.
“They are all so close, they were a fantastic help to me,” she said.
Grainne turns 24 on April 18, a day before the Laois Rose event.
“I am excited now to pass the sash on to the new Laois Rose, and keep the Laois Rose family going. To all the entrants, I say just be yourself and enjoy it,” she said.
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