Westmeath man has ‘Rose factor’
Westmeath escort Niall O’Brien
By Tríona Doherty
A lucky Westmeath lad has landed the best job in Ireland for the month of August when he will be among the 32 escorts at the Rose of Tralee International Festival.
Publican Niall O’Brien (27) from Rosemount was among more than 100 men who applied for the coveted role.
Having previously taken part in the festival as an escort in 2010, and attended the festival in other years, Niall is no stranger to what is expected of an escort, and is looking forward to hitting the road for Tralee in August.
“In 2006 a friend of mine Edel O’Connor was the Westmeath Rose and I went to support her in Tralee, and in 2007 another friend Marisa Murray was the Westmeath Rose. So in 2010 I decided to apply to be an escort, and escorted the German Rose Ruth Levins.
“It’s a hectic few days, there’s lots of racing around and quick changes into tuxes, but it’s a great festival. It’s a great experience, and you make so many friends, we still have a reunion every year,” he adds.
The publican, who runs the Stile Bar in Rosemount, won’t know until the opening day of the festival, Friday August 17, which Rose he will be escorting this year.
However, having attended a two-day Escort Boot Camp in Kerry, he has already had the opportunity to bond with his fellow escorts, and to be trained in the duties and requirements of an escort.
“It was great to get to know the other lads. We had team-building exercises, we climbed Carrauntoohil, and camped on Valencia Island,” says Niall.
While looking forward to meeting his Rose, Niall is also lending his support to this year’s Westmeath Rose Aisling Baker, from Lissoy, Athlone.
“It’s a huge achievement for Aisling, she is only the third Westmeath Rose to be in the Dome. Hopefully she will have plenty of support from Westmeath; I would advise everyone to go and support her - there is something for everyone at the festival.”
Niall will also be in the running for the Escort of the Year title, sponsored by Newbridge Silverware, the winner of which will be announced on Monday August 20. The Escort of the Year will walk away with a prize from Newbridge Silverware valued at over €10,000.
This will include: a cheque for €5,000; a complete set of silver-plated cutlery personalised with the winner’s family crest; and the Gents Style Collection of watches and cufflinks.
The 2012 Rose of Tralee International Festival will begin on Friday August 17, with the televised selections, presented by Dáithí Ó Sé, to take place on Monday and Tuesday August 20 and 21.
Full details of all the Roses, escorts, and festival events are available from www.roseoftralee.ie, Facebook, and Twitter @roseoftralee.