The Rose of Tralee International Festival returns in person to Co Kerry this weekend for the first time since 2019.
The annual festival, which dates back to 1959, describes itself as a "family-friendly, world-class international festival that celebrates Irish heritage," but the heart of the festival, according to organizers, is "the selection of the Rose of Tralee."
Rather than a beauty contest, the Rose of Tralee searches for a role model and ambassador to represent Irish culture around the world. Entrants must be at least 18 years, be female or identify as female, and be Irish or have Irish ancestors.
After a week-long tour of Ireland, this year's Roses will descend upon Tralee, Co Kerry on Friday, August 19 for a weekend of festivities before the live, televised interviews with host Dáithí Ó Sé on Monday, August 22, and Tuesday, August 23.
This year, 33 people are vying to become the 2022 Rose of Tralee, with six contestants representing the US.
In their own words, the US representatives for the 2022 Rose of Tralee are:
Arizona - Sophie Owen
Sophie Owen is my name, and I am 23 years old. I am from Taylor, Arizona, and this is my first trip to Ireland as well as my first trip to Europe! I was home-schooled as a child and spent many years raising chickens, goats, and pigs with my family. I then left my small town for the big city, graduating from Grand Canyon University with a bachelor's degree in communication and minors in theatre and social work. In the future, I hope to pursue a graduate degree in English and work as an English professor at a university. During my college years, I received university scholarships for both theatre, speech and debating. I enjoy ballroom dancing and always listen to classical jazz as background music. In addition, I spend as much time as I can outside and am an avid camper. I consider myself a bibliophile and can almost always be found with a book in hand! I'm looking forward to my first trip to Ireland and Tralee, as well as the opportunity to represent the Irish community from sunny Arizona!
Florida - Jennifer Rose Waldeck
Hello from the sunshine state! My name is Jennifer Rose Waldeck, and I am from Orlando, FL. I pursued my lifelong creative passion and graduated with my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design from Parsons in new York City and am currently pursuing my Masters in Arts. Always ambitious, I am working my dream job as a product designer for The Walt Disney Company. I design accessories that help bring magic to our guests, including everything from jewellery to ears. Outside of work I enjoy furthering my knowledge of art history, travelling to new places, spending time with my puppy, and designing my own clothing, especially to wear to the Disney parks with friends. My passion for helping others always keep me active with a variety of organisations, including those focused on empowering women. Having been involved with the Rose since 2014 as a Junior Rose, I'm honoured to be representing the Florida Centre.
New York - Cathrena Collins
Hi! My name is Cathrena Collins and I grew up in Westchester, New York just outside of New York City! My mom grew up in Killarney, Co Kerry and my dad is Irish-American from Queens, NY. I am 24 years old and currently entering my last year of law school at St. John's University School of Law. I previously graduated with honours from Binghamton University with a Degree in Philosophy, Politics and Law. In college, I volunteered with an organization that helps victims of sexual assault. The experience was both difficult and rewarding and taught me the immense impact the law can have on individuals. I am so honoured to be representing New York in the 2022 Rose Festival, in part because my grandmother was the 1965 New York Rose and I cannot wait for the year ahead!
Ohio - Sarah Mc Inerney
My name is Sarah Mc Inerney, and I am a 30-year-old Clare woman proud to represent my adopted home state of Ohio. Born and raised in Newmarket on Fergus, I pursued Undergraduate and Postgraduate Degrees in Zoology and Education at NUIG. Since then, I've travelled throughout Europe, Africa, and Central America, and I've worn many hats along the way, including secondary math and science teacher, conservation scientist and educator, falconer, and so on. This passion for conservation, travel, science, and sustainability led me to Cleveland, Ohio in 2017 to complete my PhD in Integrated Bioscience with a focus on Biomimicry, an interdisciplinary practise that mimics natural strategies to create more sustainable solutions. Since completing my doctorate, I've worked as the programme manager for an accelerator programme that helps the world's most promising nature-inspired entrepreneurs addressing humanity's most pressing environmental and social challenges. Outside of work I am very active, playing Gaelic football and camogie with Cleveland GAA, I enjoy yoga, horse-riding, paddleboarding, off-roading, camping, and exploring the beautiful Ohio Metroparks. Yet overall, my favourite thing to do is, have a cup of tea and chat with the family at home.
Philadelphia - Tara Ryan
Hello Tralee! My name is Tara Ryan and I am a 24-year-old Philadelphia native. I first joined the Rose community as Rose Bud in 2007 and I am so excited to be back in Ireland and have the chance to represent Philadelphia at this year's Festival. I recently graduated with my Master in Public Relations & Sports Media from Syracuse University and am currently doing Sports Marketing for two large International companies. As a lifelong athlete and a woman in the sports industry, I have a passion for fighting for young girls to not only be included in sports but for those girls to know that they belong in sport. My dad is from Portarlington, Laois where his nine siblings and dozens of my cousins / BFFs still reside. My mom's family is from Ballina, Mayo where I got to visit my family just this fall. Throughout history, my family has taken great pride in representing Ireland. From my Great-Grandfather in the 1916 Easter Rising to my brother, Shane, on the Irish National Team at the Olympics, I hope to continue the tradition & represent the Irish of Philadelphia with that same pride!
Texas - Arden Stringer
Hi y'all! My name is Arden Stringer. I am 29 years old and was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. After receiving my MA in Writing in Boston, I went on to attend Ballymaloe Cookery School in 2017 and I've been working in the food industry, honing my skills at fine restaurants and bakeries since. I found Food Styling three years ago and have loved the fast-paced, creative nature of it. Since becoming the Texas Rose, my parents have sold our childhood home in Dallas and taken up residence in Galway. It's been a long-time family dream to reverse what our ancestors did and come back across the pond. Recently, I've gone back to writing, combining it with my culinary expertise, and my ambition is to one day take that work over to Ireland and join my folks. Or perhaps open a wedding cake business, who knows! I pride myself on my connection with my family, my work ethic, my warm personality, and my desire to forever be a student of life. I'm delighted to take part in this year's events and look forward to every minute of it!