Sheep shearing and turf cutting are among the new skills that are necessary for an Armoy man who has made the grade to be Rose Escorts at the Rose of Tralee International Festival from 14-18 August.
Ciarán McKinley from Armoy was among the group of 32 Irish lads who made it through the rigours of the Rose of Tralee Boot Camp for Escorts last weekend.
The Rose of Tralee International Festival’s Communications Manager, John Drummey, said: “The Rose Escorts spent 48 hours in picturesque Kenmare, County Kerry where they learned to shear sheep, cut turf, build a dry stone wall, peel spuds and make poitín. It was not because the ladies love Milk Tray but because the lads prefer Roses. Nearly 200 men aged between 21 and 30 applied to become Escorts at this year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival and following a detailed interview process, the final 32 were selected to take part in a Boot Camp weekend in Kenmare to help them prepare for a busy week in Tralee.”
The lads had to carry out a range tasks including cycling, horse-riding, abseiling, kayaking, ironing and sewing in order to prove they will have the stamina to be a Rose Escort.
This year’s Rose Escorts enjoyed Boot Camp activities, supported by Kerry County Council, Bonane Community Development Council, Kenmare Marketing Action Group and Kerry Civil Defence. Some of the activities were staged on Molly Gallivan’s Farm while Beara Outdoor Adventure coordinated the absailing and kayaking events. Accommodation was sponsored by the luxurious Kenmare Bay Hotel.
Oonagh Doyle of Newbridge Silverware, lead sponsor of the Rose of Tralee International Festival, said: “We are delighted to extend our lead sponsorship of the Rose of Tralee International Festival to the Escort of the Year. It is a natural fit for our brand since we continue to be associated with a host of Irish ambassadors. Indeed, our Gents Style Collection is a favourite amongst our male consumer. We wish each individual Escort a most enjoyable and memorable Festival experience.”
On Monday night 17th August, one of the 32 Escorts will be announced as the Newbridge Silverware Escort of the Year for 2015 and he will walk away with a wonderful prize including a silverplated cutlery canteen personalised with his family crest and a cheque for €1,000.
The 2014 Escort of the Year, Conor Walsh from Cappamore, Co Limerick, said: “Having been selected as the Escort of the Year was nothing short of a great honour. The opportunity to represent a fantastic group and to accompany our Rose of Tralee, Maria Walsh, at numerous events has been a brilliant experience. I’ve travelled to Belarus and countless reunions while also working closely with a fantastic Rose of Tralee Team who couldn’t have done any more for me. I’ve made memories and friendships that will be cherished forever.”
The 2015 Rose of Tralee International Festival will take place in Tralee from 14-18 August when a full line-up of free and affordable entertainment is planned including concerts featuring Nathan Carter, Hometown, Sharon Shannon, Riptide Movement, Hudson Taylor, televised selections presented by Dáithí Ó Sé, Fashion Show, three parades, two fireworks displays and an Air Show.
Full details of the International Roses, Escorts and Festival events are available from www.roseoftralee.ie, Facebook and Twitter @roseoftralee