Fine gathering of Irish roses assemble for St Patrick's Day

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 18/03/2013
Rose of tralee contestants

HAPPY DAYS: The new Rose of Tralee contestants met each other for the first time yesterday at Rosie O'Grady's Irish Pub.

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Irish eyes were smiling in New Plymouth yesterday when the Rose of Tralee entrants stepped out in style for St Patrick's Day.

Rosie O'Grady's Irish Pub was awash with green and Guinness but the seven new entrants were the real centre of attention.

The fine looking bunch, who ranged in age from 21 to 27, were meeting each other for the first time before heading off to an interview with the judges.

The youngest contestant, Gwenda Whelan had a smile on her face after swapping her mechanics uniform for more feminine attire.

"It feels really nice to be dressed up. You always feel like more of a woman when you are looking pretty," the apprentice mechanic said.

The 21-year-old, whose father's parents were born in Ireland, had a special reason for entering the competition.

"My dad passed away when I was six, from a brain tumour, so being in the Rose of Tralee helps me celebrate and honour my heritage," she said.

Miss Whelan, whose grandmother was born in County Kerry, where the international Rose of Tralee festival takes place, plans to sing The Rose at the regional final on April 5.

It was at last year's regional final that contestant Tara Morrison started to think about her Irish heritage.

"I was watching all of the girls be interviewed on stage and it really sparked an interest for me," she said.

Miss Morrison, who has an honours degree in occupation therapy, spent ten days travelling around Ireland last year with her twin sister and their best friend.

"We hired a Kombi van and travelled around at our own pace. All of the people we met were really gorgeous," said Miss Morrison, whose family hails from County Cork and County Clare.

New Zealand Rose Alana Marshall said having the first meet and greet on St Patrick's Day had made the event even better.

"It's such a wonderful atmosphere, it's created a lot of excitement. The girls are having a great time," she said.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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