Wexford's first Rose finalist

WEXFORD IN TRALEE FINAL FOR THE FIRST TIME

WEXFORD will be represented in the Rose of Tralee final for the first time next August.

Mary Kehoe (26), from Pallas West in the parish of Rathgarogue-Cushinstown, will be Wexford's first ever national finalist after she was chosen as one of the seven winners from the Irish Regional Final over five days in Portlaoise.

The primary school teacher was chosen to go forward to the Rose of Tralee International Festival in August with Roses representing Down, Laois, Roscommon, Tipperary, Derry and Donegal.

They were selected from 28 Irish-based Rose of Tralee contestants who took part in the Irish Regional Final. In all, 51 Roses took part in the event, which included American, British, and European/Middle East Regional Selections, with 16 Roses from the rest of the world - USA (9), Canada (3), Great Britain (2), Germany and Dubai - also making it through to the final.

Nine more Roses will travel to Tralee for the Festival in August, from Kerry, Dublin, Cork, London, Sydney, Perth, New Zealand, Queensland and South Australia.

Mary, the youngest of James and Mary Kehoe's 11 children, is taking up a teaching post in Ballycanew NS next Monday and in doing so she will also become the north Wexford school's second Rose!

It was Mary's friend and Ballycanew teacher Karen McGillicuddy - the Kerry Rose in 2009 - who encouraged her to enter this year.

'I was privileged to be chosen to represent Wexford at the regional finals and being the first to represent Wexford at the Rose of Tralee final is a great honour for me,' said Mary.

'We have had girls from Wexford in the final before, but they have been representing other counties,' she pointed out.

Mary said she really enjoyed the regional final, which took place in Portlaoise over the June Bank Holiday Weekend. 'I was myself and had fun and took it as it came,' she said.

She had been advised by Karen to just ' be yourself ' and that approach paid dividends for the Wexford girl, who is excited to be part of the festival next August, which begins on Sunday, August 14 in Dublin and involves a tour of the country before the televised selection nights on August 22 and 23.

'I can't wait. If it's even half as god as Portlaoise it will be great,' said Mary, 'I've heard so many fabulous stories about what's in store for me.'

The sports-mad Wexford Rose loves football, hurling and badminton, but has a particular love for softball and is a member of the All-Ireland Club Champions (who will represent Ireland at the European Softball Championships), the Munster team and is currently in trials for the Irish team.

She also loves to sing and dance and is a member of Carnew Musical Society. Mary believes that to succeed in life you need three things - a wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone!

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