By Martin Mannering, David Hennessy and Douglas MacDonald The Rose centres of Liverpool, London, Scotland and Derby selected their roses at the weekend with the triumphant ladies now going forward to the regional finals in Portlaoise this month. Cork born school teacher Niamh Johnson will represent Liverpool. Niamh was crowned at St Michael’s Irish Centre on Saturday. The 26 year old from Glanmire has been resident in Liverpool for the past eight years where she studied at Hope University before taking up her post at Rainhill High School where she teaches English and German. Niamh is a key member of Liverpool Wolfe Tones Ladies GAA club and her teammates were in full voice when she was chosen from the five talented finalists. Niamh said: “The annual pageant was a huge TV event in the family home during my formative years and instilled in me a desire to one day take part. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to represent my adopted city and I am already looking forward to the regional contest in Portlaoise at the end of the month.” The night was all the more special for the winner as her parents Joe and June were present after travelling over for the event.
Award winning teacher Saoirse Faughnan from Letterkenny has been named as the 2014 London Rose. The 24-year-old was selected from 14 other hopefuls at the annual London Rose of Tralee selection ball at the Crown Moran Hotel, Cricklewood on Saturday May 3. Saoirse wowed the judges with her rendition of the popular W.B. Yeat poem, The Lake Isle of Inishfree, which she recited half in English and half as Gaeilge. She also spoke of her pride at being Irish in London and how the recent visit by the Irish President Michael D Higgins will remain a historic event in her life. She said on the night of her win: “I am in a state of euphoria and ecstatic and truly honored to be presented the sash by the outgoing London Rose Grace Kenny. I am honored to take on this role for my family and for London and go on to represent every single Irish person in London. I hope I can complete it with passion and pride.”
Michelle Kelly is Scotland’s new Rose. 23-year-old Michelle is from Killeeshil in Tyrone and is chartered accountant working as an auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers. Michelle impressed the judges on the night with a rendition of A Song for Ireland. Having represented her county at home at underage football, Michelle would love to get involved with the GAA scene in her new city but her work schedule has precluded her from doing soup to now. Michelle also does much charity work. She will be running a half marathon the week before the regional finals in aid of a cancer charity, a cause that is close to her heart. She will also walk 54 miles in 24 hours in June for what is called The Caledonian Challenge, something she is undertaking with colleagues from work. Michelle flew out to South Africa two years ago to spend six weeks as a volunteer with the charity Friends of Africa: “That was an amazing experience. We did a camp while the kids were off school, teaching them English, playing games and interacting with them. Then we built a house for a week which was an absolute experience, really hard. It was a really good experience.” Michelle told The Irish World that her win was all still sinking in: “I woke up this morning about 6am and I had all these emails through and I was so excited, I didn’t go back to sleep. It’s been a pretty exciting day.” Michelle’s family couldn’t make it over to support her but will make up for it by travelling in large numbers to Portlaoise: “We’ve got a massive family so I don’t know how many will be able to come. We would take up the whole place.”
22 year old student Aoife Broderick with roots in Mayo was also proclaimed the 31st Derby Rose at the weekend. Aoife, whose mother comes from Balla, told The Irish World on Monday: “I’m probably still in a case of shock to be honest but I can’t wait. It’s going to be so much fun going to Portlaoise and hopefully doing Derby proud. “To be honest, I didn’t think it was my thing at all because I’m not really one for the spotlight but my mum being a Mayo woman, that wasn’t good enough and I’m absolutely thrilled that I went in because it’s a lot different to how I expected.” Aoife goes to Mayo about four times a year and can expect much family support in Portlaoise: “None of my family in Ireland knew about it so they were all fairly hear I had won but have promised banners and the whole works. It’s a bank holiday in Ireland so they’re all ready for a big one.”