2018 Laois Rose Grainne Hogan at home in Cardtown, Camross.
Laois Rose Grainne Hogan from Cardtown, Camross is swapping her wellies for high heels this week to join the Rose of Tralee Festival.
This week Grainne joined with her fellow Roses on a tour of Kildare, with the festival kicking off in the Kingdom of Kerry on Friday, August 17.
Since becoming Laois Rose 2018 last May, Grainne has loved every minute, while continuing her job as farm assistant in Ballacolla, milking 110 cows twice daily. She took time out from her hectic schedule to speak with the Leinster Express.
She is the only full time farmer in this year's Rose of Tralee. Getting glammed up is a welcome novelty.
“I love that part of it, I only go out once a month for a night out, so to dress up for ten days, with hats and everything, will be brilliant, it will be so much fun. I have to work hard to get the wellie marks off my legs, there are literally dents in them, I’ve had to use foundation on top of the fake tan,” she said.
She will have to cover the odd bruise as well, with one shiner on her arm from a recent kick from a heifer.
“She was young, she didn’t like me putting the cluster on her, so I’ll be going to Kerry with a war wound,” Grainne said with a laugh.
One of the tallest Roses at 5’8, and six foot in heels, she will literally stand out in Tralee.
“I needed very long gowns, I’ve a lovely royal blue one for Laois for my television interview, sponsored by Ivory Closet. But if I don’t get on the telly it doesn’t bother me. Just to be part of it, the friends I’ve made is the most important thing for me,” she said.
The first RTÉ interview is already done, with Daithí Ó Sé in Dublin.
“He was great craic, so funny. It’s not a test, there’s no right or wrong answers,” she said.
Big days out already have included the Galway Races, while last Sunday she attended the Tullamore Show to launch a big tractor run in aid of her chosen charity Embrace FARM, based in Laois. It supports farming families affected by farm accidents.
“WR Shaw are supporting a 32 county tractor run. They will stop in each county and collect a pair of wellies from each bereaved family. It ends at the National Ploughing championship when all the wellies will be lined up. It’s sad but it’s a good way to show people the dangers of working on a farm. You go out to do a simple job, but if you are up against a crush, and an animal decides to go for you, it goes for you. You have to be careful,” she said.
Below: Grainne helping to launch Embrace FARM's 'Our Drive to Remember'.
She is sponsored by Sheeran's Pub Coolrain, which hosted her fundraiser for Embrace last week.
The local support in her community has been constant, with cards and callers arriving daily to wish her luck before she headed off, and a huge contingent coming with her to Tralee.
“It’s been amazing, it’s brilliant, it is a tight knit community here, we call on each other for support. I’m so proud to be representing them as well as Laois,” she said.
She was at Mountrath Mart last Tuesday selling the remaining tickets for her fundraiser for the farm charity Embrace. The top prize is a dinner date with Grainne.
“The craic was 90, all the farmers buying them, they are so supportive. I can’t remember the amount of times my hand got shook,” she said.
She will be wearing hats custom made by Laois milliner Pamela Curtin who has sponsored creations to Laois Roses for many years.
“The former Laois Roses and the co-ordinator Lyn Moloney have helped me greatly with finding dresses,” she said.
There is little time for hobbies with Grainne, other than Camross Macra.
“I have to mention our member Anthony Culleton who won Mr Personality this year, we were at the Camross Family Fun day last month, he is great craic.
“I’m beside the mountains here, there’s a riverside walkway and I take the dogs up, they love it, but I’d love to work seven days a week if I could, it’s an obsession. Farming is all I ever wanted to do. I got my first lamb when I was 6, Daisy. In secondary school I started working with my neighbour Ger Cuddy,” she said.
Grainne keeps her own few sheep, and 3-year-old Rosie is nearly her pet, coming running to her in the field.
Below: Grainne and Rosie.
“We reared her from a lamb. She still feeds from the bottle, even though she is a mammy herself now. I can’t even eat lamb, there’s a special scent behind a baby lamb’s ears, the meat smells the same, I can’t stomach it,” she said.
Her mum Anne, brother Eoin and his girlfriend Niamh, her Nana Sadie Hogan, and aunties, uncles and friends will all be in Tralee.
One little supporter is close to Grainne’s heart.
“My nephew Frankie has become a little expert, he knows all about doing tan and brows now,” she said.
Frankie has spina bifida and is paralysed from the belly button down, but is coming on well with therapy.
“We are lucky to have him,” Grainne said.
The live televised stage interviews for the Rose of Tralee are on RTE on Monday and Tuesday August 20, 21.
The Leinster Express is the proud Media Partner for the Laois Rose and wishes Grainne the best of luck!
Below: Grainne and her mother Anne at home in Cardtown.