'I've been busy but it's been great'
Wexford Rose Emma prepares for historic appearance at the famous Dome in Tralee
Since being crowned Wexford Rose in May of this year life for Emma Byrne has undergone something of a transformation. The 19 year-old Clonroche native has found herself in high demand, her presence required at events throughout the county and beyond.
But, as Wexford's first Rose of Tralee live finalist in ten years, this comes with the territory, and Emma says the experience so far has been all she'd imagined.
'I've been busy out, but it's been great. I don't think I realised how much of a big deal it is until I went down to Tralee itself. We're going down for the festival on August 19 and we'll be there for ten days, I'd say I'll be wrecked by the end of it, but it'll be right craic,' Emma said.
As well as lending her support to causes such as Wexford Relay for Life and Hurling for Cancer Research, the former Loreto student has made public appearances at the Bannow & Rathangan Show and Adamstown Show. She also got the opportunity to visit the Irish National Stud in Kildare, a momentous occasion for someone who has been involved with horses for as long as she can remember.
'I'll be competing at the Dublin Horse Show in the RDS next week. This is the 100th anniversary of the year women were first allowed to compete so there's going to be massive celebrations up there. I've been going up there every since I was young,'
But Emma has been doing more than merely going up there, in 2014 and 2016 she won the U-17 Connemara pony ridden competition on Glencroft Aruba, a pony she'd bought on Done Deal with her confirmation money.
And she followed up those successes with a win in the over 17s event in 2017. This year however, with the small matter of an appearance in the Dome just weeks away, she could be forgiven for being a little distracted when it comes to the horse show.
'Coming up to the Rose Ball you have to make a list of the things you're going to do every day. Some of the other Roses have made spreadsheets with the days of the week on it, but I'm only 19, I don't think I'm that organised yet,' Emma joked.
Another prerequisite for the 32 finalists is that they have two different outfits for each of their ten days in Kerry. And in Emma's case she has a benevolent shop owner in Gorey to thank for providing her with the 20 outfits.
'Every single item of clothing that I'll be wearing was donated by Liz Collins in Gorey, she's my sponsor, I just popped up to the shop with a punnet of strawberries and a bottle of wine and she gave me all these clothes. In addition, my make-up and hair is being sponsored by Glamourize HD in Bunclody.'
Confirming she'll once more be singing Coldplay's 'Fix you', the song which she performed to such great effect in the county final, Emma said she has met host Dáithí Ó Sé and is feeling 'very relaxed' about appearing on national television. Her family, friends and army of supporters however, are less so.
'My uncle is on about making t-shirts with my face on them, I was like "Oh God no". And the staff at the Ferrycarrig Hotel, where I work, said they were going to put up a banner for me like they had for the hurlers. I told them "that's fine, but I do not want to see that banner",' says Emma.
The Rose of Tralee final will be televised live on RTÉ on Monday August 26 and Tuesday August 27.