As part of the build-up to the 52nd Rose of Tralee festival, Sligo folk star Patrick Feeney has been named as the man to serenade this year’s winner, meaning he is set to disappoint the other hopefuls dreaming of taking home the prize.
The announcement — made as the Roses visited Birr in Co Offaly to learn how to play camogie — may place the 27-year-old in jeopardy if any of the unsuccessful Rose of Tralee contenders are within reaching distance of a hurley again when this year’s festival winner is crowned next Tuesday night. But despite the admittedly unlikely danger involved, Mr Feeney said the accolade is “the biggest moment of my career to date”.
“It will be a great thrill for me. The Rose of Tralee is famous all over the world... Like so many other Irish people, I watched the Rose of Tralee religiously every year and I can’t believe that I am now going to be part of this great pageant,” he said, adding that he knew the words of the festival’s theme song “before I was even 10 years old”. The Rose of Tralee organiser’s decision to reveal the name of Tuesday night’s serenader came amid another hectic day for this year’s competitors as they travelled through Dublin, Offaly and the Galway town of Ballinasloe, where a vintage car ride was organised.
During the journey, Leicester Rose Aishling McLoughlin took time out to support the launch of the Eamonn Mac 100 kilometre memorial cycle, the proceeds of which will go to the Cork Cancer Research Centre.
The event was organised in memory of Aishling’s father Eamonn, who died from colon cancer aged just 46. The cycle will begin in Dunmanway, Co Cork, on September 25 and finish at the McLoughlin’s family home of Kilworth later that day.
Meanwhile, Down Rose Gemma Murphy continues to be among the bookies’ favourites to win, with Ladbrokes last night shortening her odds to 7/1 after a flurry of bets on the Newry girl.
Kerry, Carlow and Leitrim Roses Veronica Hunt, Jessica Adamson and Martha Gilheaney have also been given the same odds of success.
The Roses will continue their journey to Tralee today, with a first meeting between the Roses and this year’s escorts.