“I’m still shocked that I was chosen, but I’m really looking forward to the year ahead and would hope to be a successful Rose of Tralee,” said the 22-year-old. The stunning Dublin blonde spent the afternoon at the Tralee races where she attracted the attention of hundreds of punters, while the remaining 25 Roses packed their bags and headed home.
Orla works with Bank of Ireland Treasury and International Services, where she is a payments investigator, after turning her back on a career in modelling. She criticised the severe pressure on women to stay slim while she was interviewed in the Dome.
She said: “I don’t agree with the pressure on girls to be stick thin. If someone is size 12 or 14 it doesn’t matter, it’s what’s inside that counts.” She was once told not to drink milk because it bloated her face, but her smile won the hearts of the judges and public in Tralee this week.
Orla’s boyfriend Davie Fitzpatrick from Shankhill, Dublin, also works in Bank of Ireland.
Orla has a business diploma and she plans to study German at night later on this year. The girl from Ailsbury in Dublin 4 was also a finalist in the Face of L’Oreal 2001 competition.
Her mother Mona is from Duagh, Co Kerry, and her father Matthew comes from Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick.
While Orla enjoyed being in the spotlight yesterday, the father of the Philadelphia Rose, Joe Trainor, spoke of his delight at being captured by the cameras. Joe had a chat with Ryan Tubridy while his daughter Sheena was interviewed on stage. “I was famous for the night, but that’s the only time in my life that happened and it will probably never happen again,” he said.
Meanwhile, festival bosses said last night that this year’s event was one of the most successful in decades.
Festival chief executive Siobhán Hanley said: “it’s been fantastic and there’s been a great local reaction; we even had crowds of 30,000 at the festival parade on Saturday evening.”
Ms Hanley met with members of the international Rose centres yesterday and said the meeting was very positive. “We are going to focus again on international marketing and, of course, we are looking at several ways of ensuring that the festival is viable,” Ms Hanley said.
The Rose of Tralee Festival will soon reveal how it plans to make the event profitable after it has struggled to meet costs in recent years. “We’re involved in corporate and strategic planning and all that will be rolled out in the coming months,” said Ms Hanley.