Offaly Rose aims to charm her way to Tralee

OFFALY’S Rose of Tralee representative Brianna Connaughton is hoping to halt the county’s recent bad luck on the football and hurling field when she represents the Faithful County in the Regional Rose of Tralee finals in Portlaoise this weekend.

OFFALY’S Rose of Tralee representative Brianna Connaughton is hoping to halt the county’s recent bad luck on the football and hurling field when she represents the Faithful County in the Regional Rose of Tralee finals in Portlaoise this weekend.

“People keep telling me this is Offaly’s year, and since the hurlers and footballers are gone I will just have to do my best. I have the gift of the gab so I will just keep talking and hope that I can charm them,” Brianna told the Offaly Express.

Family and friends from all over the country will be heading to Portlaoise to support Brianna in her bid to become the first Offaly Rose in many years to get to the final in Tralee the last week in August.

Local publican Joe Gallagher of Gallagher’s Manor is a family friend and very kindly sponsored all Brianna’s Rose-related spending while Loughrea milliner Suzie Mahoney is providing her head gear for the busy social schedule over the weekend.

“We arrive in Portlaoise early on Friday morning and don’t leave until Tuesday morning and it really is non-stop with visits to local schools, places of interest, our individual interviews and then the group interviews. We will be interviewed on stage on Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights and the winner will be announced on Monday night,” explained Brianna.

Brianna works with young offenders as a youth justice coordinator of the SWAY Garda Youth Diversion project with Waterford & South Tipperary Community Youth Service after obtaining a degree in Social Care at WIT and a FETAC Level 5 in Criminology. She hopes to begin a Masters by Research in September.

The 26-year-old was involved in the Special Olympics for six years, during which time she coached the gymnastics and basketball teams and accompanied them to the World Games. She was the Face of Simply Be 2010, and has continued to do plus size modelling since.

Brianna volunteers with Make-a-Wish Foundation and with the SWAY, the Garda Youth Division project which she also co-ordinates. In the future she hopes to develop more effective ways of reducing youth offending in young people through Masters and PhD research.