Offaly Rose and Ballinahown native Jennifer Byrne was crowned the winner of the International Rose of Tralee 2017 in The Dome in Kerry on Tuesday of this week.
Jennifer, whose mother is from Offaly and whose father is from Westmeath, secured the prestigious title to become Offaly’s very first Rose of Tralee.
A shocked but elated Jennifer put her hands to her face as host Dáithí O Sé announced that she had triumphed ahead of 31 other finalists from across the globe.
Addressing the audience and watching media, Jennifer paid tribute to all the other contestants as she accepted the winner’s tiara and sash from outgoing Rose, Maggie McEldowney.
“I can just about breathe now, to be honest,” she said. “I’m absolutely in shock; I don’t even know what to say. Everyone here is absolutely remarkable. The girls are unbelievable and it’s an absolute honour for me to be chosen to represent these bunch of girls. And I just hope I do them all really, really proud. I can’t believe it.”
The 24-year-old, a past pupil of Our Lady’s Bower, hails from Clonaderig, Ballinahown. She studied medicine at NUI Galway and is currently a junior doctor working in the A&E department of University College Hospital Galway.
Sport forms a big part of Jennifer’s life. She has represented Ireland in soccer at U17 and U19 level, securing a silver European Championship medal at U17. She later went on to take part in the World University Games. She currently plays with Galway WFC in the Women’s National League. Off the pitch, Jennifer has undertaken a significant amount of voluntary work, at Barretstown and in Mpongwe Mission Hospital in Zambia.
Jennifer says one of her primary ambitions for the year is to be a role model for modern young women. With her involvement in sport and her career in health, promoting healthy living is also high up on her list, as is encouraging more young women to get involved in sport.
The time of Jennifer’s homecoming to Ballinahown has not been decided at the time of writing.