Portarlington native and Abu Dhabi Rose, Dearbhladh Walsh did her town and family proud at the Rose of Tralee.
Dearbhla was one of the final Roses interviewed on the first night of the famous contest by host Dáithí Ó Sé and she put in a great perfmance.
The teacher, who is on a career break from Port's Presentation Convent Primary School, got a great welcome from the audience in the Dome when she was introduced as a Port teacher who plays four musical instruments and has just taken up ladies gaelic football in the Gulf state.
Dearbhladh, aged 24, told Dáithí her big support included father Billy and mother Margaret, who is well known to many in Port as the recently retired principal of the Presentation Convent . Also there were her brothers, Ronan and Paul, “lovely boyfriend” Eric, granny Kathleen Quinn, aunts uncles, extended relatives and a big gang of “unbelievable friends”.
Even though she wore a classic blue dress on the night, Dearbhladh made her home Offaly allegiences clear early on.
“I'd say about a third of Portarlington is in Offaly but that is the part I claim anyway. Thankfully the River Barrow divides us (from Laois) and I'm an Offaly woman out and out. I live inside the border and my brothers would kill me if I ever said otherwise,” she said.
Dearbhladh said she spent three years teaching in Port but always felt she wanted to travel, an urge that brought her to the Gulf.
“ It was always on the back my mind (to travel0. So I said to myself I've done the three years teaching why not take a career break and step outside my comfort zone,” she said.
The Rose praised the advantages of Abu Dhabi such as the weather, low tax, lifestyle and Irish community.
“I think there is a misconception about Abu Dhabi that you cannot live a normal life but you 100% can. The Irish society out there are unbelievable and their support is phenomenal. They love hiring Irish people out there. We are so adaptable and have very strong family values. We are very like the locals and they really appreciate that,” she said.
Dearbhladh told Dáithí that there are many Irish teachers in Abu Dhabi with more heading off every year. She said she has already convinced “half the Roses” to give it a try.
Dáithí persuaded Dearbhladh to tell the story of an incident in college involving a dog and false teeth. Dearbhladh reckoned Kate Hyland, the Laois Rose and her good friend and teaching colleague, may have “ratted her out” on the story.
“I used to live with Kate and Kate had a dog and the dog probably never saw outside the door. I had braces (for teeth) and one day I couldn't find them anywhere. Next thing we saw them in the corner of the sitting room chewed up,” she said.
All was fine as she was on her final two weeks of needing the braces.The dentist told her “you're grand there straigh enough”.
“At least the dog had good teeth” said Dáithí at which point a picture of a dog with lovely white dentures popped up on screen.
Dearbhladh then stole the show with a sweet performance of the famous Irish song The Parting Glass. She also played the harp. During the performance the camera cut to a shot of her near mother Margaret who was near tears.