Leitrim Rose sets off for Regioanl finals in Portlaoise

Portlaoise will not know what hit it this weekend as the army of supporters from around Aughawillan and the county invade the town to support Niamh Flanagan this year’s Leitrim Rose.

Portlaoise will not know what hit it this weekend as the army of supporters from around Aughawillan and the county invade the town to support Niamh Flanagan this year’s Leitrim Rose.

Niamh has been busy preparing for the Regional Finals of the Rose of Tralee since she was crowned Leitrim Rose on May 5.

The twenty year old will leave Leitrim on Thursday to begin the jam packed itinerary which includes visits, formal meals, interviews and general glamorous activities.

Niamh told the paper she is excited about the whole weekend but is staying relaxed for the time being. She hopes to be successful to make it through to the International Finals in Tralee. Only 12 Irish roses will make it through.

“It will be an adventurous weekend, I will get to meet Daithi OSe and have a great laugh with all the girls,” she said. She said all the roses are like a “big family” at this stage.

Niamh has met many of the other roses she will be competing against and will be travelling to Portlaoise with the Cavan Rose Alison Harpur and will be sharing a room with the Wexford Rose Laura Doyle.

Niamh has an exhausting weekend to look forward to with every minute catered for from 8am until past midnight every day.

Portlaoise is putting on a carnival festival for the big event. The Roses and their families will also visit some well known Laois landmarks such as Castle Durrow, Emo House & Gardens, Killenard Golf Club and a range of entertainment events in the local hostelries.

Niamh squeezed in time to speak to the Leitrim Observer this week in between dress fittings with Eileen Abbott (the dress is fab according to Niamh!) packing shoes and jewellery and thanking everyone for their best wishes and saying farewell to her biggest supporters – the residents of Mullross Nursing Home, Kilclare.

Niamh had been spurred on to apply for the Leitrim Rose by one of the residents Stephen. Niamh works part time in the nursing home and is also a student of childcare Management in Athlone.

She said the residents were “delighted” to hear she got selected as Leitrim Rose.

“The phone has not stopped ringing since I got through” she laughed. She said there is a huge crowd from Aughawillan joining her in Portlaoise this weekend. “I hope they have manners,” she joked.

2011 Leitrim Rose Brenda Stenson has been on hand giving Niamh tips and inside information on what to expect in Portlaoise and Niamh said everyone in the Leitrim Rose committee have been a great help to her.

Niamh would like to thank everyone who has wished her well and given her support, she said she hopes to do Leitrim and Aughawillan very proud this weekend.

Niamh will be interviewed on stage at the Heritage Hotel, Portlaoise on Saturday, June 2 and the winning Roses will be announced Sunday night, June 3.

The 2012 Rose of Tralee International Festival will take place from Friday 17 to Tuesday 21 August.