The New York Rose of Tralee contestant Annemarie Lynch is arguably one of the most admirable young women to receive the award. Born in New York and raised in Co. Cavan, the 22-year-old beauty has accomplished much already in her young life.
Annemarie was chosen from more than a dozen girls in New York earlier in the summer to represent the Empire state and all its Irishness in Tralee this week.
When she is not behind the counter of Fifth Avenue’s famous Tiffany's store, she is singing in front of large crowds or building houses in Haiti. Annemarie’s hobbies and ambitions are endless.
The budding rose took time from her hectic schedule on Sunday to talk to us just two days before she goes on stage on Tuesday night to proudly represent New York in the Rose of Tralee international competition, now in its 55th year.
"From a young age this is always something I wanted to do. I would watch the Rose of Tralee on tv and it started as something I liked to watch for the clothes and over the years I grew to understand the importance of the festival, not only to show the positive role models within the Irish community but also to connect the Irish Diaspora around the world."
Annemarie's maternal grandparents, who are both originally from Cavan, moved to New York at a young age and all of their children were born and raised in the Bronx. Her father's parents were also Cavan natives, while he grew up in Bruskey, Co.Cavan.
"My immediate family moved back here to New York a few years ago and I moved back after I graduated with an honors degree in English and Philosophy from UCD Ireland. My family in New York have travelled back with me to Tralee and I have some cousins, friends and more family from Cavan coming too so I'm excited to see everyone there,” the excited Rose told IrishCentral.
Annemarie is no stranger to competitions as the young singer came second in “Cavan's Got Talent” a couple of years ago.
For the enthusiastic rose, being chosen to represent New York has been one of the proudest moments of her life so far.
"I genuinely feel so privileged and honored each time I put on the New York sash knowing that I am representing an incredible community of people that have throughout the years worked hard at keeping Irish traditions and culture alive."
The support Annemarie has received over the last couple of months has been amazing.
"I am overwhelmed by all the love and support from everyone in New York, Cavan, Longford and my family and friends all over the world. I cannot explain how much I appreciate everyone's kind words and I would like to thank them all for that. I was very surprised to see someone even wrote a beautiful song about me which was very exciting for me,” said the volunteer and charity worker.
All of the roses arrived in Tralee on Saturday after a few days on the Rose tour around Ireland. Annemarie says, "Every single day has been amazing. Since I was selected as the New York rose I have met so many incredible people and have been lucky enough to connect with people of Irish heritage from around the world. And without a doubt, this has been a highlight for me."
Not only has the former Co. Cavan footballer received an overload of emotional support, but she has also received a tremendous amount of help from top Irish designers in order to prepare for such a big event.
"There has been lots of dresses, headpieces, shoes and bags", says the fashionista who has interned with two different designers in New York having got distinctions in Fashion Design and media make-up at Cavan college.
"I have been lucky enough to get to wear Irish designers like Jacqueline Quinn, Joan Ghali, Don O'Neill and also a lovely lady in Dunshaughlin called Fiona supplied me with beautiful pieces from her store Fortuna so I really appreciate everything I have been given. The Rose of Tralee committees and centers are also so good and are always on hand to help with the prep needed."
As confident as the rose is, she can't help but feel a little bit nervous for her appearance on the night. "Daithi O' Se is great though and he can relax you with his sense of humor."
Given her success and rising stardom with her music and singing, Annemarie will without a doubt sing and play the guitar on the night, which will be a spectacular performance.
With everything else all set and ready to go for Tuesday night, the final thing we want to know about is the young beauty's frock for the night. The fashion diva was more than happy to give us some sneaky detail about what to expect when she walks out on stage.
"My dress is by an amazing designer called Don O’Neill. He is a lovely Kerry man and his label is called THEIA. The dress is red and strapless, I love it. Don has provided me with almost all of my dresses for the festival and I could not be more thankful. It is a credit to him that after working with A-list stars he still has time to support the Irish community. Thank you to all the talented Irish designers who have supported me and provided me with incredible dresses."
The Rose of Tralee hopeful is looking forward to enjoying this once in a lifetime experience and making lifelong friendships. The ambitious rose has already plans set for the future following the Rose competition. She will be back in Dublin to complete a masters program in business and entrepreneurship.
Finally, if Annemarie were to be crowned the Rose of Tralee she admits, "I think at this stage, making it to Tralee and experiencing the last week on the rose tour has been a victory in itself. I feel blessed and privileged to have been chosen to be a part of the festival as the New York representative. No words would ever do justice to how it would feel to be chosen to represent Ireland for the year. There is so much good you could do with such a respected title and I would love to be a part of that however, after getting to know all the girls I know the crown will be in safe hands no matter who wins."
The entire Irish community in New York has no doubt that our she will do us proud when she airs sixth on stage in Tuesday night’s Rose of Tralee competition. Good luck Annemarie.