Meet the official Rose of Derry, Glenullin girl, Eimear Anderson.
Eimear, a former pupil of Loreto College in Coleraine, spoke to The Times this week as she prepares of the Rose of Tralee final later in August.
The 20-year-old says that the festival, known world wide, is a summer tradition in her family, that has been passed down through the generations. Eimear applied for festival on a whim, and beat off still competition to be crowned Rose of Derry back in March.
“The festival is something that we have always watched on TV as a family,” told the St Mary’s University College pupil.
“I have always dreamed of taking part, and now I am living that dream.
“When I sent away the application form I thought I would never hear any more about it, fast forward a few months and I was standing with the sash on me as the Rose of Derry, it’s like a dream.”
Describing the whole experience as a ‘whirlwind’, Eimear went on: “There were 11 girls in the Derry selection process, after that it was on to Port Loise for the regional final where Roses from all over the world gathered, and out of the 55 there, 23 were selected.”
Explaining more about the festival, Eimear told: “The Rose of Tralee is not a beauty pageant. It’s a celebration of Irish women. Every Rose has their own story, and I am so proud to be a part of the whole process.
“I have met so many new friends, it’s been a life changing experience for me, and I am really looking forward to the finals on August 17 and 18.
Eimear had a few words of thanks to her ‘support network’. “My brother Connor and my mum and dad have been great supporters.
“I am just going to go and enjoy it, I’m really living the dream,” she said.