Dearbhla Toal was named 2011 Meath Rose of Tralee at the weekend.
Dearbhla Toal from Dunshaughlin was named the 2011 Meath Rose of Tralee at a selection night ball in Navan at the weekend.
It was the seventh Meath Rose of Tralee final and a 200-strong crowd was there to support 14 Roses and the three escorts competing in the contest. Each of the Roses took to the stage and were interviewed by Oisin Langan of Newstalk 106-108.
Party pieces included Niamh Kavanagh singing 'Fields of Gold', Laura McClorey reading a self-composed poem, Gemma Byrne displaying her hip hop dancing skills with the rest of her crew from Fit Kids/Fit Teens, while Laura Geraghty read a piece from her own published children's book 'Cá bhfuil tu, a Phádraig?'
Each Rose was put through an interview process with the panel of three judges and, after a very difficult decision, it was eventually decided that Dearbhla would represent Meath at the regional finals of the Rose of Tralee in Portlaoise over the June bank holiday weekend.
"I feel so delighted and honoured to have been given this great opportunity to represent Meath in the Rose of Tralee Festival," Dearbhla said afterwards.
"Until now, I'd never even won a raffle, so I was shocked but humbled by my selection. I have always wanted to take part in the Rose of Tralee since I was a little girl as the competition stands for so much that is good about Ireland and Irish women. It was such a fantastic day and night and I was so glad to be able to share it with friends and family. I really look forward to the next 12 months and hope to do the people of Dunshaughlin and Meath proud as the Meath Rose," she said.
There to support Dearbhla on the night were her parents, Sean and Noeleen; her brother, Conall; boyfriend, Harry Silke; aunts, Frances and Barbara, and cousin, Alannah, along with work colleagues from SuperValu in Dunshaughlin, which sponsored Dearbhla.
At the regional finals, she will meet contestants from 26 other Irish centres and six will be chosen to go forward to compete in the international festival in Tralee in August.
While the judges took time to make their final decision, Fergal Fitzgerald from Dunsany was named as the Meath Rose of Tralee Escort and he will go forward to 'escort boot camp' in Limerick, from where 33 escorts will be chosen to go to the international festival in Tralee.
The Meath Rose of Tralee committee has thanked all the local business and families who kindly sponsored Roses and raffle prizes on the night, and to main sponsors of the Meath Rose - the Meath Chronicle, Newgrange Hotel, Ollie & Mac and Petals & Pressies.