Kieran Walsh

The Waterford Rose of Tralee finals took place last Friday at the Tower Hotel, Waterford.

It was the Ballyduff  Upper woman  Helen Geary that took the crown and will wear the Rose of Tralee sash for Waterford.

Roses and Escorts with outgoing Waterford Rose Kirsten Mate Maher and Rose of Tralee CEO Anthony O’Gara. Photos: Mick Wall

Helen works with KPMG accountants and is a B. Comm graduate from UCC.

It was a fun evening with up to 300 family, friends and supporters of the 14 contestants in attendance.

Apart from Helen and  the girls the great star of the evening was former Waterford Rose winner in 2018, Kirsten Mate Maher, who took the stage, encouraged the girls, recalled fantastic memories of her time that brought  her around the globe, relaxed and totally natural she got a massive round of applause and sang two songs.

One was by Nina Simone called “Feeling good “and another by Johnny Cash “Folsom Prison Blues”. She has a brilliant voice and she complimented key board player from RTE and Rose festival, Ollie Hennessey and her friend on guitar and vocals, Calum McGavock.  Kirsten works now in digital marketing, she told the Munster Express and is having success we understand.

She shed a tear  in her speech over losing her grandfather in 2020, Charlie Maher, well known from  Waterford Crystal and from taking photos.

Eventual winner Helen Geary’s family with their banners before the event.

Anthony O Gara, CEO of the Rose Festival was fulsome in his praise of Kirsten and her great year as a Rose and said that the festival celebrates Irish ness around the world to

An Irish diaspora of 70 million with Irish roots, there are even 7 Rose organisations in New Zealand alone, Waterford thus has much competition.

He praised the quality of the Waterford event. There have been 3 winners from Waterford for the overall national title, which is a good record for one of the smaller counties.

The festival is on from 24-28 August this year in Tralee, he added.

There was also a world first with two female escorts, said Anthony and they got a great cheer. One of the girls was from Dungarvan, Kathy Lai and another from Wexford Sara Murphy.

We met two young Tramore lads, Niall Waters and Rory Kennedy, who were really enjoying their night and having the craic  as escorts and would up  to do so again.

We spoke with Mrs Margaret Geary, who was delighted with her daughter’s success as was her husband Ned. They are a  farming family  in Ballyduff Upper near Lismore.

Helen went to school in the Loretto, Fermoy, Cork.

There was a wide range of age  groups attending from city and county. The winning sponsor was Pat Denn and compere was Beat FM DJ  Dave Cronin, who did the interviewing in a time efficient manner.

Waterford Rose Centre Coordinators, Eoin O’Neill, Victoria Walshe and Stephen O’Rourke welcomes Helen Geary to the Rose family.

Well done to Vicky Walsh and Stephen O Rourke of the Waterford Rose Committee, also to the judges Niamh Grogan, the 2002 Rose for Galway and now based in Carlow and Emer and Eugene for their time and effort.