So I’ve been a bit side tracked the past few weeks.
In early March after a Friday Funday, where we nearly got stranded on Newcastle Beach as the tide came in, Lauren announced she was going to be a part of the Down Rose this year.
For those of you who aren’t aware of the Rose of Tralee, it’s basically a festival which goes on down in County Kerry every year where over 60 different centres send a young lady to represent their county/centre.. So we have 32 here in Ireland then the others are all over the world.
The winner embodies all that is pure and beautiful about Ireland. Everyone in Ireland has watched it at least once, it is pretty much part of religion to sit down and watch it in August with your granny.
However as a prestigious competition there are careful selection processes in place to determine who represents each centre. For the Down Rose Centre …that was 6 weeks of fantastic outtings and opportunities to try new things, make new friends and have the best of craic.
I’ll admit I was envious of seeing and hearing about where the Roses where now but it was a nice type of envy as I heard about the friendships and the laughter, wondering to myself the whole time…I knew I should have entered this when I was 21.
I was lucky enough to get to go along to a fabulous event at Jack Murphys Jewellers on Thursday after our breakfast hike up the mountain. I got to meet most of the girls and try on items of jewellery that would pay off my mortgage (yes I’m that old and sensible). I came to the conclusion that I shouldn’t have married for love…money would have been better. (Only joking Iove is better. ..but love with money is a bonus)
I was blown away by an abundance of beauty and more so the cracking personalities that the 2016 Down Roses had. Each one of them special and unique yet equally full of the joys of life.
Behind the well posed pictures where a group of now friends for life, just out to have a good time and broaden their horizons.
I seen first hand why every young girl should be part of this process and was welcomed with opened arms to join them for some food after wards.
When I say food…I mean fast food, yes they were all human with good appetites. All dressed in the best of frocks we went from a high class jewellers to Friar Tucks and everyone sat down to chips and chicken. It was awesome.
As they chatted about the selection night, plans for gifts for the organiser and important items to pack, I actually felt like I needed to be packing a bag and joining them. I laughed and I also cried inside. All of these girls had their own reasons for doing this and it amazed me how fabulous and selfless they each where. Here were girls barely in their 2os making a huge impact on society daily beyond the normal daily grind.
Fast forward to Sunday.
I had been getting updates from Lauren throughout the morning and needed to calm my own nerves. I felt so nervous for her and everyone else involved. I know standing on stage or in front of a room of hundreds of people is something I can do and it doesn’t phase me. However I am 10 years older than most these girls and some where going to be singing and dancing, playing instruments and well Lauren was lifting weights ( classy chick).
I took myself out for a run and thinking about what lay ahead that night I pushed myself to complete my first 10miler. If they could get on stage and do that outside their comfort zone. I could hit double figures.
I lay about all afternoon…I felt useless. I could have been helping give them pep talks or being in room entertainment. It was just awful knowing that between having their hair dragged out of them and make up on. They where having to answer questions and endure interrogation from a panel of judges.
As I arrived into an sparsely filled room (to be on time, is to be late) the stage area that was to host 17 nervous ladies was luminous. After working in the Slieve for years as a teenager at various events and weddings the room had a completely different feel about it. It was personal now. The Roses would all take to the stage over the next few hours and for one of them the dream would continue on to Tralee.
I have taught many a young person in my time, every single girl who took to that stage was a credit to themselves and their families. It’s a daunting prospect and they all nailed it. I honestly could have stayed there all night listening to them. Such powerful talents where on display and I am sure Gemma the organiser felt like I do on results day. All her hard work and inspiration clearly had rubbed off on the girls and they delivered.
I didn’t envy the job of the judges. I am sure before anyone took to the stage they were daunted by the task ahead after meeting them all earlier in the day and realising that there was no clear winner.
I was never so glad to know Lauren was 4th on. At least I didn’t have long to wait and as each girl before her came up on stage, I got more nervous.
As she took to the stage she relaxed into the atmosphere. Connor Phillips, the compere for the evening, straight out attacked my hard work in my very homemade banner. I am not the world’s most artistic critter. ..actually I’m woeful but I put hours of work into it and was more so delighted that it would be more of a souvenir than anything else. The banner made it to the stage and I was totally mortified, yet strangely proud that everyone was forced to admire my hard work even if it looked like 30 kids had made it.
After the poster hype Lauren was fabulous. She didn’t show any nerves, was clear and precise in her answers and I was so proud of her (I don’t think I can stress just how much so).
Just when the room thought she couldn’t shine anymore she came out to do her talent. I think the whole room was in shock at the little 5ft2 Lauren stepping up to do Deadlifting.
Working her way up through the weights she was confident in her own ability and made it look effortless. At 110kg (twice her body weight) she had everyone in the room on their feet. I am sure she could have comfortably PB’d on the night had she went up to beyond her 140kg pb as the atmosphere was electric and I am sure the adrenaline was taking over. Though she had no need to, she had put on a fantastic show and everyone was in awe…exactly what doing a talent is all about.
In the end only 1 could win. I’m sure if many of the other girls where in a different county, they’d have won. The title of Down Rose went to the very deserving Fainche who will do a fantastic job representing the County, I’ve no doubt about that.
I feel very privilege to have been able to be apart of the Down Rose journey and I will encourage anyone who isn’t as old as me, not married and living near a Rose Centre anywhere in the world, to get involved.
For now though I have my memories and count myself exceptionally lucky to have a friend that rocks as much as Lauren! #alwaysnextyear #dontgiveuponadream