Ireland’s new wave of emigration was visible in this year’s Rose of Tralee competitors. This year organizers found that seven of the girls competing were born in Ireland and had since emigrated to Australia, Germany and other lands of opportunity.
Thus, although Irish heritage, and ‘tracing your roots’ have always been a must when entering the world famous competition, this year saw seven girls born in Ireland representing foreign countries.
The general manager of the Rose of Tralee International Festival, Oliver Hurley, told the Irish Independent, the ‘new wave’ of entrants was due to the use of the Internet and social media.
He said “I've been involved for seven years and in that time that's been the norm and I'm assuming it's the fact that a lot of people do the trip to Australia and take a few years out in different countries and they see this as an opportunity of getting back to Ireland.
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"The way that the Rose of Tralee centers are networking now, it has opened it up to people who may not be engaged with the traditional Irish clubs and centers around the globe."
Tara Talbot, who won the competition on Tuesday night, was representing Queensland, Australia. However, she was born and raised in Dublin. Tara, who is now 27, left Ireland when she was five-years-old.
The New Zealand Rose, Ailbhe Ryan, emigrated with her master’s degree in international relations from DCU. She is now working in a customer service department for an insurance company in Wellington.
Grainne Boyle, the Dubai Rose, found work in the Middle East as a special needs teacher while the German Rose Saoirse Fitzgerald is a marketing executive with Enterprise Ireland.
Three of the seven Roses were representing the UK. They had travelled to England for both education and career opportunities.
Niamh O’Connell, the Sunderland Rose, was born in Tipperary but is currently studying at Sunderland University. Caroline Marley, who was born in Newry, County Armagh, left home having earned a first-class honors degree. She now works as a financial analyst in London. The Derby Rose, Niamh McTagu, also left County Galway to work as a dietician at the Royal Derby Hospital.
The Sunderland Rose Niamh O' Connell performs her party piece 'The Banana Song':