Maria Judge (L), Rebecca Egan (Middle) and Sinead Kenny (R) flying the flag for Offaly in the Dubai Rose selection process
Aiming to follow in the footsteps of current Rose of Tralee, the 2017 Offaly Rose, Jennifer Byrne, three Faithful women are hoping to make it to the Dome via Dubai for the 2018 competition.
On Friday, May 4, at the selection night for the 2018 Dubai Rose, three Offaly women will be in the running for the crown. They are Maria Judge from Clonbullogue, Sinead Kenny from Leabeg, Boora, and Rebecca Egan from Ferbane.
All three women have found themselves in Dubai for work with Rebecca currently teaching in an American Curriculum school, Maria in a British Curriculum school and Sinead working with an organic restuarant chain.
"There is a lack of teaching opportunities in Ireland so I went to the UK as soon as I qualified and stayed for 4 years," Maria told us. "So many of my colleagues had made their way to the UAE and said they loved it, so I followed. I have a passion for travelling and experiencing new cultures and Dubai is a great gateway to travel the East," she added.
Sinead made the move East in 2017 to her "better half" Kieran who works as a quantity surveyor in Dubai. "Time has flown since I moved over but I am loving every minute here, the lifestyle and weather, except when it gets to nearly 50 degrees in the summer," Sinead commented.
Before travelling to Dubai, Sinead worked in the Tullamore Court Hotel for almost 8 years and despite now having a daily view of the Dubai Marina from her workplace, she says "nothing can beat the Lough Boora Parklands" in her native Boora on a fine sunny day.
Rebecca Egan, who trained to become a teacher in Ireland, says, "living abroad has been the best education, and I believe the best stories and most resonating lessons are between the pages of your passport."
"The work environment is so much more demanding and diverse than Ireland that whenever I return, I believe I will have gained a wealth of experience to deliver in Irish classrooms."
For all three women, that first trip home may well be in August to Tralee if they become the 2018 Dubai Rose. They have been dreaming about becoming a Rose from a young age in front of the TV, and now inspired by Jennifer Byrne's win last year, they're hoping to keep the crown in the Faithful county.
Maria has a particular connection to the famous Kerry festival as her own mother is from Dingle. "As a young girl, we used to travel into Tralee from Dingle to “the tent” to try get glimpses of the girls in their fabulous dresses," Maria remembers.
"I would have always watched the Rose of Tralee every year with my Dad before going back to school and he used to always joke with me saying that when I was a “big girl” that I should do it," she continued.
"I wanted to enter because I wanted to do something with my life that would have a greater impact on the world around me. I feel the rose of Tralee is a brilliant place to promote all the positive things that Irish women are doing around the world and I wanted to be part of that," she said.
Rebecca told us that she too always enjoyed the Rose of Tralee festival growing up, adding, "I believe it is truly a unique and special family and community event."
"Growing up my parents would always say to my sister Sarah and I that some day that could be either of us. Needless to say, little Rebecca was a bit more realistic and didn't think she would be so blessed, even if she did secretly dream of it, and yet here she is all grown up, as a Dubai Rose entrant, standing amongst wonderful fellow expat Irish women, not to mention alongside two other lovely ladies flying The Faithful flag," Rebecca added.
Sinead told us that she would always watch the show with her Mam and Dad, but admitted the famous festival was a bittersweet one when it came around every year. "I always wanted to be there in Tralee as does any young girl, but watching the Rose of Tralee was bittersweet because it meant the summer holidays were almost over and it was time to get the new uniform and school bag ready," she joked.
Maria, Sinead and Rebecca have all been busy preparing for the selection night on Friday, May 4, but they all count the recent St. Patrick's Day Parade, Dubai Irish Society Ball, and fundraising efforts for the now worldwide phenomenon that is the Darkness Into Light suicide awareness event as their highlights.
They are looking forward to the big night on May 4, with Sinead saying the Irish Vilalge will be amazing, "any excuse
to get dressed up and have a bit of craic with the other girls."
The Dubai Rose will be chosen on Friday, May 4, where hopefully one of these Offaly women will be coming home to represent the UAE and Offaly in the Dome.
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