Katherine the Rose of north-east

Katherine and Irish Dance Society.
Katherine and Irish Dance Society.

Maghery girl Katherine McConville is making quite a name for herself in her adopted home in the north-east of England.

The 23-year-old, who is currently in her final year at university in Newcastle, is in the running to become the next Rose of Tralee after winning the 2015 Newcastle-Gateshead heat of the competition.

Katherine had to undergo a lengthy application process to compete in the competition. Studying for a Bachelor of Science degree in Speech and Language Sciences, she managed to make time for her academic commitments while participating in group debates on current affairs and an onstage interview.

“My family flew over to Newcastle to watch my on-stage interview, which took place in Gateshead,” Katherine said.

“Entrants are judged on communication, confidence, academic ability and capability - the entrant who achieves the highest mark becomes a Rose.”

Katherine certainly had an array of skills with which to impress the judges, having Irish danced since the age of five and gained a Grade 8 in Irish Traditional Music. She believes the judges were particularly interested in her pride in the Irish culture.

“I play various instruments - my favourite being the fiddle. For the past three years, I have been president of the Newcastle University Irish Dance Society, and have taught around 150 British, Irish and International students. The girls came to support me on the night of my interview - and even performed a flash mob.”

The Rose of Tralee International Festival, now in its 56th year, is one of Ireland’s largest and longest running festivals. It aims to celebrate attributes of modern young Irish women. Katherine’s interest in the Rose of Tralee competition stems back to her childhood,

“The next stage is the Regional Finals in Portlaoise, Co Laois, where I compete against Roses worldwide - there are 58 contestants altogether.

“My family and friends will be attending to support me and watch my interview on Sunday, May 31. The 32 Roses selected then go on to Tralee, Co Kerry, where the selection takes place in order to find the Rose of Tralee.”

This year, as well as having entrants from the UK and Ireland, there are Roses from as far off as Australia, Dubai and the USA. The overall Rose of Tralee winner will be announced in late August.