So many things in life really are about the journey rather than the destination, and Kilkenny Rose Aoibhín Murphy said it was certainly true as she took part in the Rose of Tralee International Festival last week.
“It was an amazing experience,” she said on her return to Kilkenny. “It was quite hard, because the whole thing is so quick and you really want to make a good impression. But it was the time of my life.”
“It stopped being a competition about halfway through and it just felt like being on holidays,” she said.
Part of what made the experience so great were the people she met along the way, Aoibhín said.
“People were coming up to me on the street and asking for my autograph,” she said. “One girl came up to me and said, ‘You’re my favourite Rose.’ I asked her if she was from Kilkenny and she said no, she was from Kerry but that she had seen all of the Roses and I was her favourite. She gave me a gift and everything, and she said, ‘I’m going to be watching out for you’.”
And then there was the camaraderie that developed between the Roses, of whom she said: “I have made some life-long friends.”
“I got to experience so many worthwhile things when I was in Kerry and when I was travelling around Ireland,” she said of their excursions, including to Ballinsloe and Westport.
“We went to some really fun events and we got to do things for the community in Kerry,” Aoibhín said.
The most poignant for her, she said, was a visit to the Rehab centre.
“We got the most amazing and emotional performance from them,” she said of a sign-language dance performance by the centre’s service users.
“That was probably my favourite part of the whole thing,” she reflected. “We got to do loads of things like that that I will never forget.”
Of Luxembourg Rose Nicola McEvoy, who was crowned 2012 Rose of Tralee,” Aoibhín said: “Nicola is a gorgeous girl.”
“I am so glad that it was Nicola, because she really deserved it,” Aoibhín added. “It was really good to see someone win who really wanted it, and I know she will do so well.”
Overall, it was a prize just to have been selected to take part, Aoibhín said.
“It was really the journey that was so rewarding,” she said. “They even told us, ‘You are all winners; we just wanted to pick a representative.”