Kilkenny Rose, Helena Hughes
Helena Hughes is a big fan of the Rose of Tralee competition and believes that it is an ‘excellent platform for young women’.
The 25-year-old grew up in Kilkenny City before moving to Kells. She now lives in Dublin where she works in the make up department for Brown Thomas.
The affable young woman grew up in the postcard pretty area of Talbotsinch before moving to the historic village of Kells as a teenager.
“It was brilliant - I had the best of both worlds.” she said.
Helena is the daughter of Helen Hughes, a well known piano player in the city and... She is no stranger to the stage having helped out veteran broadcaster, Aonghus McAnally at the Kilkenny People of the Year awards.
After finishing secondary school Helena attended Trinity College Dublin where she studied English Literature and French.
“French turned out to be an unexpected joy. I completed the graduate exchange programme at Tours University. During my time there my French improved massively, mainly my accent and use of syntax. It was really interesting and teaching was fun but I am not sure it was for me,” she said adding that she missed home.
“I decided to come back, I even missed the rain,” she said that at the time she was ‘unsure of what her next step was’.
“I used to work part time in a vintage shop in George’s Street Arcade. The guy who owned it asked me if I wanted to run it and rebrand it.
“The vintage industry is so unique and interesting and you often have to take a bit of a gamble as you are blind buying,” she said.
The 25-year-old has obviously found her niche and is now studying a Masters in Fashion Buying and Management on a part time basis. She completed her internship with Penneys Head Office in Dublin and she has also worked alongside the Irish designer, Liz Quinn.
Helena now works in a cosmetics buying position in Brown Thomas and enjoys her tole there.
“It is a very positive place to work and there is a very supportive team there,” she added.
Helena has always harboured hopes of being a Rose but had ‘put it off’ in the past.
“This year I just decided to go for it and it has been a really good experience. I think the Rose of Tralee is an excellent platform for young women and it is a celebration of real people. It highlights how being inspirational can be within reach and you get to see different and positive qualities in all of the Roses. It is uniquely Irish and I suppose it is really a personality competition. I am massively looking forward to representing Kilkenny and I am very excited and I am going to make the very most of it.
“I am very happy to be an ambassador for Kilkenny and I am very proud to be from here. I also missed it so much when I was away. I just love the friendliness of Kilkenny. It is a very create and special city and I really hope the Abbey Site is developed well and that a third level institution comes to Kilkenny. Not everyone gets the opportunity to come back,” she added.
She cites her grandmother Hannah Mulhall as being one of her biggest influences and greatest friends.
“I am her biggest fan,” she said.
Helena has received great support to date from the wider community, including a number of local businesses, including Lorna’s Emporium and The Edge Salon in Callan.
She will hold a fundraiser called The Road to the Dome in Brogans on John Street on July 12 which will involve a special Rose pub quiz.