The woman who brought the Rose of Tralee title to Galway for the first time in 1980 (and proved a good luck emblem for the hurlers two weeks later ) is to be a judge at this year’s International Rose of Tralee Festival.
Sheila O’Hanrahan Lawlor who lives in Maree, Oranmore is originally from Roscommon but won the title for Galway on an emotion-filled night in 1980. The title was later won for Galway by Niamh Grogan and Luzveminda O’Sullivan in the 1990s.
As the Galway Rose, and Adoption Society Social Worker, Sheila was crowned the Rose of Tralee in 1980. A graduate of University College Dublin, National University of Ireland Galway and Edinburgh University, Sheila worked as Principal Social Worker in Galway University Hospitals.
She is now an Adjunct Lecturer and Tutor at the National University of Ireland Galway. Sheila married her Rose of Tralee Escort, Brendan They have three adult sons. Sheila has compered the Galway, Dublin and Bruxelles Rose finals. and has maintained her involvement with Tralee.
Two weeks after her win, she was in the Hogan Stand when Galway won the All-Ireland hurling title.
“My favorite memory was hugging a bloodied Joe Connolly, Galway Captain in the Hogan Stand in 1980 after Galway won the All-Ireland Hurling Final, it was even on TV (a small clip ) and the banners in Croke Park read: “We have the Rose, we want the Cup,” she said, admitting afterwards that she had never been at a hurling match before because football was the dominant sport in her native Roscommon.
Sheila was the first Rose to marry during her reign and her wedding to Brendan was featured on the RTE evening news.