Laois Rose 2019 hopefuls Seoda Fitzgerald, Sarah Bergin and Oonagh Hoey
Excitement is building in the search for this year’s Laois Rose of Tralee who will represent the county on stage in Kerry and on TV this August.
Ladies of Laois are putting their best selves forward in the search and a great night was had last Friday as some of the entrants got to know each other at a cocktail night organised by the Laois Rose Centre.
As local media sponsor, the Leinster Express went along to hear more about the ladies who feel passionate about representing their county in Tralee.
Sarah Bergin is a student nurse, originally from Clonad living in Galway. She was inspired by her friend who was the Mayo Rose last year and wants to use the platform to share her own struggle with anxiety and encourage others to do the same.
“It’s something that I never thought I would do confidence-wise. I am good friends with last year’s Mayo Rose Rachel Gibbons, she was on TV last year. I was chatting to her one evening and just decided to go for it this year because in a couple of years time I don’t know if I’m going to be in the country.
“I don’t get dressed up I don’t do any of this, normally you just see me with my hair up, in my nursing uniform. It’s building my confidence.
“I suffer quite badly with anxiety this is why I wanted to drive myself to do this because I knew in my head when January started I was facing nine months of really tough work and I needed something outside of that to push myself.
“About a year ago when I was in the really really tough part of it I couldn’t get out of bed, couldn't do anything for myself that was tough. I want to raise awareness of the fact that it is okay to be like that and having a support network is huge. It took a friend to say ‘you’re not okay and I’m going to help you through it’ and I still remember my first counselling session it was like the weight of the world had just lifted off my shoulders from talking to a complete stranger. It’s a long process but you do get there, there is another side to it,” she said.
Sarah has taken part in a charity skydive for Youth Suicide Prevention Ireland and a charity boxing match for the Irish Cancer Society.
Seoda Fitzgerald is a primary school teacher in Maryborough NS from Cherrygarth, Portlaoise. She is passionate about her work as a teacher, took part in this year’s Portlaoise panto and her dad is from Dingle so she has grown up loving the Rose of Tralee festival.
“I would love to be down in Tralee and I just feel like I am ready now this time to go for it and to represent Laois. I think Laois is great in that it is a small county so so many people would come and support.
“I teach in Portlaoise so I have a good parental community, we would have a lot of GAA people coming in and partnerships with the community and I suppose everyone just has your back for that reason I think Laois is great and it is underestimated until you are actually involved in it.
“I am very passionate about special needs, I have worked with a lot of children that have different special educational needs so that's an area I am very passionate about and I want to know more about, I am enjoying experiencing it and teaching children and learning more.
“I did the panto this year. I said I would do something that is different, separate to school, switch the mind off so I said I am going to do something that I do like and that’s dancing and it was just brilliant. Everybody involved in it is so great, the week you are doing it it is intense. I worked every day which was hard going into school after the shows but it was the best craic and I met the best people through it it’s been a really good experience,” she said.
Oonagh Hoey from Portarlington is 22 and is a yoga teacher running her own business. She enjoys being ‘zen’ and is passionate about helping young people to be self-confident.
“Ever since I was a little girl, we have sat down to watch the Rose of Tralee and I told my mam I will be up on that stage!
“I never thought I was going to be a yoga teacher, I wanted to be an English teacher. I done my Leaving cert, left school and went through a really hard time with my mental health. I found myself on a yoga mat one day randomly and ever since that day I have been on my yoga mat, it saved my life. I do it in Portarlington and I travel around a bit as well I have been in Croatia teaching, Amsterdam, Spain and England.
“I just like when roses are themselves, self-confident and happy you know by someone if they are nice and relaxed in themselves.
“There’s so much to do in Laois, there's the heritage, the Slieve Blooms and now even fitness wise there's a big boom. People go to Dublin for nights out when you have little quirky spots coming up in Laois. Electric Picnic is booming out for Laois and the scarecrow festival is amazing,” she added.
Entries are open for any Laois women who want to put themselves forward for the Laois Rose 2019. The selection night is on Friday, April 19 in Castle Durrow. Contact Laois Rose Centre Coordinator Lyn Moloney 0834631611 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.