The selection for the New York representative for this year’s International Rose of Tralee Festival in August is set for this Sunday April 22nd at Empire Casino in Yonkers, New York. Each of the young Irish and Irish-American women competing this year for a shot to be the New York Rose are extremely accomplished and dedicated to the advancement of the Irish in America.
Below, get to know this year’s contestants. Do you have a favorite already for Sunday’s selection? Make sure you come by Empire Casino to cheer the girls on and enjoy an evening of celebrations and music. Check out the New York Rose of Tralee’s Facebook page and find out about ticket information is here.
1. Sharon Margaret Brady
Sponsored by the County Leitrim Society of New York, Sharon is a native of the Bronx New York, has grown up with a strong connection to County Leitrim. Both of her parents, her brother and herself are involved with the Co Leitrim Society. Sharon’s father Frank has been involved with NY Gaelic Football, managing the Leitrim team and both the men’s and women’s NY teams as well as providing coverage for The Irish Echo.
Sharon will be receiving a Master’s of Science from Dominican College this May, with a
dual certificate in childhood education and students with disabilities. Sharon serves as
a scholarship chairperson for the County Leitrim society, and serves as a delegate to the
United Irish Counties in New York.
Crowned Miss Irish American Society Mineola in 2011, Sharon enjoys travel, reading,
American Sign Language, and volunteering with children and those with special needs.
Sharon has been traveling to Lourdes every Easter since 2010, as part of the American
Special Children Pilgrimage Group. This NY Rose candidate hopes to continue her service to those in need in pursuing either a second Masters in deaf studies or a Phd in Special Education.
2. Gráinne Niamh Conroy
Sponsored by Lily O’Brien’s Chocolate Cafe, Gráinne is a Dublin native born to parents from Galway and Wexford. Grainne graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a Bachelor’s degree in Business studies and was awarded a gold medal by President Mary McAleese for her work in the Inaugural Undergraduate Awards of Ireland.
Now in New York for two years, Grainne works for Enterprise Ireland. There, she assists the growth of Irish companies in the US market. Last fall, Gráinne project managed the Irish Enterprise Minister’s Trade Mission to the Southern States of Georgia, North Carolina and Florida. Gráinne is also heavily involved in the Education in Ireland initiative, promoting educational opportunities in Ireland to US students.
Gráinne is passionate about connecting with people and understanding life from different
points of view. For many years, she worked with the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s My
World Children’s Youth Group in Dublin and she is a committee member of the Trinity
College Alumni Association in NY.
3. Ashley Marie Gilnack
Sponsored by Mahoney’s Irish Pub and Steakhouse, Ashley is the daughter of Cork native Marie O’Neill Gilnack and the late Robert Gilnack. Ashley is a substitute teacher in the Hyde Park School District, and also works as a records clerk in the Hudson Valley Heart Center.
Passionate about Irish dancing, Ashley competes and helps teach at the Farrell School of Irish Dance and regularly volunteers at Irish festivals and fundraisers. Ashley hopes to attain her TCRG in the future and run her own dance school. Merging her love of Irish dance and education, Ashley created an Irish dance program for 4-15 year olds in Newburgh, NY.
Ashley graduated from Mount Saint Mary College, where she received both a Bachelors of Arts and a Master’s Degree, specializing in Education studies. A member of Alpha Chi a National College Honors Scholarship Society, and Alpha Mu Upsilon an International English Honors Society, Ashley was also recognized on the Dean's list throughout her academic career.
4. Claire Dorothy Hinde
Sponsored by the Landmark Tavern in NYC, this Dayton, Ohio native is a new resident of New York City. Claire graduated from Mercyhurst College (Suma Cum Laude), with a Bachelors of Arts in Dance and Choreography. At Mercyhurst, Claire received a senior leadership
award, and contributed to the student publication "Lumen".
Currently, Claire works as a work study student at Steps on Broadway, and hopes to further her exposure in New York and secure a full time dance career and someday become a Radio City 'Rockette'.
Claire loves singing, dancing, reading, Imelda May, and her new and ever changing
experiences in New York City. She hopes to one day earn a Master’s degree in Library
Science, and create an after school program that will combine art therapy and books for
children within her community.
5. Meghan Kathleen O’Keefe
Sponsored by The Brazen Fox restaurant, Meghan is a lifelong native of White Plains in New York. Meghan is the Contract Compliance Administrator at Greyston Foundation and a Jazzercise Instructor, both in Yonkers.
Meghan attended Maria Regina High School in Hartsdale and Muhlenberg College in Allentown,
PA, where she majored in International Relations and Spanish. Next year, Meghan will attend Graduate School in pursuit of a Master’s in Public Administration for a career in public service.
While perhaps the only Rose to never have taken Step Dancing, she did enjoy a stint with the fiddle! Meghan loves to travel and learn about other cultures, primarily through a culinary vantage point.
Meghan is a second generation Irish-American whose four grandparents immigrated from
Counties Cavan, Galway, and Kerry.
6. Kerry Ann O'Shea
Sponsored by IrishCentral.com, Kerry works as a staff writer at the premier Irish and Irish-American website. As a 2011 Marist College graduate who majored in English & Writing, she thoroughly enjoys being able to exercise her two passions of writing and appreciation of Irish culture at work.
Kerry grew up Irish dancing with the Early-McLoughlin School in New Jersey, and returned from hiatus this past fall to compete in the Mid-Atlantic Region Oireachtas. With three other ladies, the team brought back the Ladies Adult 4Hand champion title to the McLoughlin school, the same title her mother had won years earlier.
In college, Kerry spent her junior spring semester studying and interning abroad in Dublin. Getting to experience the nation's capital was a thrilling adventure, one very different from the countryside she's used visiting in Kerry, Mayo and Galway.
Kerry’s father is a proud Kerryman hailing from Kenmare, and her mother's parents come from Bellmullet in Mayo and Loughrea in Galway. She spent many summers in her childhood visiting family among the three countries, but always looked forward to August when the Rose of Tralee would be televised.
7. Jaclynn Amber Pearse
Jaclynn Pearse, sponsored by The Rambling House in the Bronx, was born in Denton, Texas.
This Rose candidate graduated with honors from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia with a Masters of Arts in International Communications.
Jaclynn recalls hearing stories while growing up of her late family’s great vision for Ireland and the importance of embracing her heritage. Having lived in 4 countries in the past 5 years, Jaclynn has witnessed first-hand the beauty in connecting with the Irish community each stop along the way.
After an 8 month internship with the BBC in Jerusalem, Israel, Jaclynn moved to NYC where she joined the Monitor Group, a global strategy consulting firm, as a Marketing Associate. She also serves on the Event and Fundraising Committee for Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Education and is a volunteer for the New York Nexus Global Youth Summit on Innovative Philanthropy and Social Entrepreneurship. Jaclynn is also a member of the Irish Network of NYC and has recently started Irish dance, despite her two left feet.
8. Alice Ann Robinson
Alice Ann Robinson, sponsored by the Deirdre O’Mara School of Irish Dance, hails from Delaware Pennsylvania. Alice Ann first moved to New York to pursue a degree in Fine Arts from The New School University. Her love for dance and performance then lead her to the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, where she earned a certificate in performance.
Finding a new home in New York, Alice Ann is pursuing her passion through acting, singing, and dancing along with teaching Irish Dance at the Deirdre O’Mara School of Irish Dance. Alice Ann’s love for Irish dance has driven her to compete for the best, participating in regional, national, and even world competitions. You may have even seen her sing in off-Broadway plays and Carnegie Hall!
Alice Ann’s Irish roots trace back to her grandparents on both sides of her family, immigrating from Counties Donegal and Mayo. Alice Ann considers herself a proud Irish-American, and is inspired daily by the beautiful arts, music and dance created in her ancestral home.
Named the 2012 Rose of Rockland, Erica Joyce traces her Irish roots to her father Patrick, a native of County Mayo. Erica graduated from SUNY Rockland Community College in 2009 earning a degree in nursing. She now works full time as a Registered Nurse at White Plains Hospital.
Erica’s interests are diverse, enjoying everything from hiking and camping to wire
sculpture and cooking. Erica especially enjoys time with her dog ‘Lil David Bowie’, named
after one of the many classic rock artists she loves.
Erica’s family and friends are very important to her, and she values the strong community
around her in Nanuet, NY. Becoming the New York Rose would be an honor for Erica,
further strengthening her connection to the Irish Community. In the future Erica hopes to
excel in her nursing career along with specializing in an area that allows her to make a
difference in the lives of others.
Sponsored by The Heritage Bar and Restaurant in the Bronx, Annemarie was born in New York but raised in Ireland, the homeland of her father Eamon who is from Co. Cavan. Very accomplished, Annemarie received a certificate in both Fashion Design and Media Make-Up at the Cavan Institute as well as Bachelor’s degrees in both English and Philosophy from University College Dublin. She has pursued sales careers with Tiffany & Co and Orla Kiely.
Annemarie now lives in Woodlawn NY, where she loves the wealth of Irish music and feeling of community that surround her. She describes living in Woodlawn as “the best of both worlds,” like stepping out of New York City and back to Ireland.
Having recently returned to New York, specifically Woodlawn, Annemarie loves to spend her free time singing, playing guitar, dancing, playing Gaelic Football, and being with friends. Her love for signing and playing guitar lead her to compete in both “Cavan’s Got Talent”, where she
was a runner up, and the Scor na nOg singing competition, where she was a regional
finalist. In the future Annemarie hopes to own her own successful fashion business, along
with continuing to play and write music.
11.Kerry Ann Murphy
Sponsored by Rory Dolan’s Restaurant & Bar in Woodlawn, this Pearl River native and Yonkers resident received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Siena College. Kerry studied abroad at NUI Galway while at Siena, and continued her studies at Fordham University for graduate school where she attained a Master’s of Science in Education Counseling and Personnel Services.
Kerry is a certified School Counselor in the state of New York, a certification she employs daily at her job with All Hallows High School in the Bronx. Kerry was trepidatious at first about working at an all-boys school in the South Bronx, but over the years she has grown to love the dedication and resilience she sees in the students every day. In the future, Kerry hopes to pursue a PhD in Psychology and become an adolescent therapist.
Like many Irish American women, Kerry first learned of the Rose of Tralee during childhood trips to Ireland to visit her grandparents in Farranfore Co. Kerry. As a child Kerry marched in the International Festival’s Rose Parade with her father Sean, a member of a bagpipe band. Like her father, Kerry also enjoys playing the bagpipes and is a former member of the Bergen Irish Bagpipe Band, with whom she completed at a Grade 3 level for several years.
12. Kieren MacKenzie Sheridan
Kieren, sponsored by The Sheridan Family, is currently studying at SUNY Albany, where she plans to graduate with a degree teaching English as a second language, along with a certification to teach K-12. Prior to her graduate school career, Kieren worked as an after-school program coordinator at a multi-lingual school.
Kieren began Irish step dancing at age of nine, an activity that has also been encouraged within her family. Kieran’s mother, Maxine, handmade dance costumes for Kieren throughout her competitive career while Kieran’s father Michael contributed home baked treats for her dance school. While Kieran enjoys solo choreography, she loves Ceili dancing and the opportunity to interact with her dance class. As part of her dance school, The Wild Irish Acres School of Irish Dance, Kieren enjoys offering dance classes to members of her community and providing a venue for Irish cultural heritage to youth dancers and senior citizens alike.
Kieren has participated in the Miss America organization for the past seven years, competing for the title of Miss New York three times and representing various regions of the state of New York. During her time with the Miss America organization Kieren was able to promote the importance of education throughout local schools and community groups. Her goal has been to encourage and support children in school environments, and help minimize the number of high school dropouts.
Ann-marie, sponsored by Dempsey’s Pub, is a 26 year old native of County Kerry. Ann-marie moved to New York City after graduating from the University of West Scotland with a degree in Contemporary Screen Acting. AnnMarie plans on furthering her acting skills by studying at the Lee Strasburg Institute in New York towards the end of the Year.
She has travelled and studied in many countries before moving to New York in late 2011. Ann-Marie has a strong artistic background, and has studied architecture and fashion design,
winning a Fashion Fusion award from Coca Cola before focusing on her acting career. From a young age Ann-Marie has been involved in the arts, and a screening of a short ﬁlm ‘Roped".
In’ at a Brooklyn Film Festival, directed by her sister Helena, brought her to New York in late 2011. Annmarie fell in love with the city and decided to make it her home away from home.
Ann-marie volunteers at the Irish Arts Centre and works in an Irish Bar, Slainte on the Lower East Side, and is soon to commence an internship at a New Your ﬁlm company. A love for the outdoors runs in her family as her brother is a professional mountaineer who has climbed everest and Kilimanjaro.
Ann-marie herself has been to the top of the MacGillycuddy reeks
many times and last year climbed the french alps.
14. Caitlin Kelly
Caitlin, sponsored by the Shamrock Irish Gift Shop in Woodlawn, is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, American Studies) and the Fashion Institute of Technology (AAS, Fashion Design). She is currently pursuing a Masters in Counseling from Pace University, where she works as a Program Coordinator for the Center for Community Action and Research, planning volunteer events focused on community service, civic engagement, and social justice.
Born and raised in Yonkers, NY, Caitlin feels lucky to have grown up surrounded by the rich culture of Irish music and dance in Woodlawn. After attending ceilis with her parents and discovering her sister's old dancing dress in the attic, she begged to attend Margaret Pike's Irish dance classes at the age of 5. Falling in love with Irish dancing immediately, Caitlin quickly rose in the competitive ranks, qualifying for the World Championships at age 11 and placing at the National Championships at age 16.
She has performed in NewYork City at Radio City and Carnegie Hall, as well as at the Embassy of Ireland in Washington, DC. Though she retired from competition in college, Caitlin continued to be involved in Irish dancing as a Camp Rince Ceol counselor and as a founding member of the Georgetown University Irish Dance Team. She recently spent a year working as an au pair in Manchester, England while training for the TCRG (Irish dance teacher's certification) and apprenticing with a well-respected Irish dance dressmaker. Caitlin passed her TCRG exam this past May, and she currently teaches adult classes and TCRG workshops in Yonkers. In the next few years, she hopes to start her own dance school and Irish dance dress company, Fairy Reel.
Caitlin loves to travel, whether taking road trips across the States or visiting her family
"back home" in Ireland. Her paternal grandparents hail from Tuam and Clifden in Galway, and her mother can trace her roots back to Mitchelstown in Cork.
15. Fallon Gaines
Sponsored by Slattery’s Pub in Midtown, Fallon is the daughter of Thomas Gaines and Kathy Salyer. Fallon is Gaelic for Granddaughter of the ruler. She currently resides in Westchester County, New York and works at 87 Vines Restaurant and Wine Bar located at 708 Central Park Avenue in Yonkers.
Fallon grew up in New Jersey and graduated from Bridgewater UMASS with a BS in Cultural Anthropology and English. She has always been an active member in her community, engaging in Big Brothers Big Sisters, community outreach projects, and church sponsored events.
Being a part of a large Irish-Catholic family, heritage and tradition have played a huge part in Fallon’s life and upbringing. Her father’s family(Gaines) hails from Kenmare, in Co. Kerry, while her mother’s side (O'Donoghue) hails from Bantry Bay, Co. Cork. Although she has never been to the Emerald Isle, she looks forward to meeting her many cousins there!
Have you picked your winner for the New York Rose now from these worthy contestants? Join in on the selection’s festivities on Sunday April 22nd at Empire Casino in Yonkers!