Galway connections abound at this year's Rose of Tralee Festival, which is currently underway and culminates in the live final next week.
The county is represented by 23-year-old veterinary graduate Rosie Burke who has been enjoying a whirlwind few months since she was announced the winner of the local final in May.
The Ballinderreen woman comes from a musical household and learned to play the concertina, piano, and guitar at a young age. She regularly plays gigs around Galway with her sister Blaithnaid and brother Michael. Ms Burke has wanted to be a vet since she was about four years of age and that dream has finally been realised after she qualified in May. The Galway representative is also a fitness fan and plays camogie with Ballinderreen. She describes herself as proud Galway girl, with a grá for Ireland, the Irish language and culture.
Meanwhile, Miss Burke is in good company in Tralee as the Sligo Rose Katie Higgins hails from Moylough, while New Orleans Rose Shannon Burke, New Zealand Rose Hannah Greally, and Yorkshire Rose Anne-Marie O’Donnell all have family ties to the county.
London Rose Emma Murphy O'Connor also has a strong local connection, as her mother Bernie hails from Ardrahan. The 24-year-old law graduate is no stranger to our shores as she returns to Connemara every summer.
"I am so proud to have been named the London Rose, but I will certainly also be representing my Galway roots. Every childhood summer was spent in Ballyconeelly with all my Irish relatives and it is a wonderful honour to be coming home this summer to partake in a world renowned competition such as the Rose of Tralee. The excitement has been immense and it has been a fantastic opportunity to spend an extended period of time in Galway - which I consider to be home despite my London accent!"
The Roses are partaking in qualifying selections this week and will discover on Sunday, if they been chosen to appear on the televised selection next week. Such is the popularity of the Rose of Tralee, RTÉ has introduced a new show, The Road to the Dome, which will track a rose’s journey to the stage. It will air on RTÉ One at 6.30pm on Monday August 22 while the live shows sir on Tuesday and Wednesday.