IT’S hard not to imagine Sinead Fennell being crowned Rose off Tralee 2011 in the Dome in August. Her natural personality, wit and winning smile will take the Graiguecullen girl far, and the whole county will be hoping that it will be all the way to Tralee.
Before that though, Sinead must qualify from the Regional Rose Finals, which will be held in Portlaoise over the June Bank Holiday weekend.
“I may print off the lyrics to Lovely Laois and have all the girls chirping on the bus as we’re going along,” laughs the 21-year-old, nursing student.
“I’m so excited that the regional finals are in my home county too.”
It may only have been a few weeks, but the Laois Rose is enjoying the experience so far.
“It’s been an amazing experience so far. I’ve met so many people and everyone has been so nice and welcoming. I was in St Fiacc’s house in Graiguecullen, recently, which is a nursing home for the elderly in the parish, and I’m going to my old primary school this week. I was also in RTÉ, where I met Daithi O’Se - the host for the Regional Finals.
Sinead says she fell into the Rose of Tralee competition.
“The Rose of Tralee is like Toy Show, everyone watches it. It’s one of the few nights in the year when Mam and Dad let you stay up late to watch it. I always admired the girls who went for it and thought they were great.
“Ursula Hayden, co-ordinator of the choir in Graiguecullen, which I sing with asked me to go for Graiguecullen Rose. I went for that because I thought it would be a bit of fun, but it was amazing to win it. I went to laois finals not expecting anything out of it.”
“I fell into it, more than making a conscious decision to enter it,” Sinead adds.
Sinead had one of the biggest crowds supporting her at the Laois Rose selection night, but she is hoping to have even more support for the regional finals,
“My friends and family are brilliant, they’re a loud bunch aswell, even if there was only four of them there would be a racket!
“Hopefully I will have bigger crowd for the Regionals, there is a lot of people coming from Graiguecullen. My sister is coming from Scotland, and my Nana is really looking forward to it.
“It’s great to have the support and to look down and catch Mammy’s eye or see a friends face and you can talk to that person because it is nerve wracking on stage.”
Sinead’s dad, Andy Fennell, who played football for Laois, couldn’t be with his daughter at the Laois Selection night, as he was in Cheltenham at the annual racing festival, but Sinead is determined to have him at the Regional Finals.
“Dad is chained to Sleaty, there is a clamp on the tractor - he is not going anywhere.
“He was very disappointed that he wasn’t at the Laois Rose, but he had the trip booked for a long time before I entered. He is really looking forward to weekend. The glitz and the glamour goes over his head, but I hope he’s proud that I’m representing Laois now too.”
With the Regional Finals just over a week away, Sinead is overwhelmed by the support of the business’ in Portlaoise who are sponsoring her clothes for the weekend.
“Everything ready for Regionals, I have all the outfits picked and we know what way we’re doing the hair. Sharon Preston has been fantastic, she know’s what to wear and what looks good. You really need an honest eye.
“The shops in Portlaoise have been fantastic too. Every girl dreams of being a princess - trying on the gown and the slipper fits, that Cinderalla moment, the tiara - it’s all whimsical and fairy tale. The shops have been marvellous, anythnig I’ve wanted they have bent over backwards. Being from Graigue, it’s lovely to come to Portlaoise and for everyone to be so supportive.”