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Rose of Tralee International Festival officially starts today with local hopeful Molly Coogan while eight escorts have ties to Carlow and Kilkenny involved

The televised part of the event takes place next Monday and Tuesday

The Rose of Tralee International Festival officially takes hold today and hopes are high for our local contender.

Limerick’s Dr Sinéad Flanagan was the last picked for the title at the annual Co Kerry event in 2019, the contest having been cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid.

Hoping to replace her is Molly Coogan from Castlecomer who represents Kilkenny. She’s bidding to follow in the footsteps of fellow cat Orla O’Shea who was victorious in 2004 and, more recently in 2018, Kirsten Mate Maher who won as the Waterford Rose but is from Bigwood, Mullinavat.

We’ll get our latest update from Molly this (Friday) evening when she joins Sue Nunn on The Way It Is (4-6pm) while Dáithí Ó Sé, who’s set to host the competition for his eleventh time, and ahead of that RTE musical director, and Carlow native Ollie Hennessy, will be on KCLR Live (10am-12noon) with Eimear Ní Bhraonáin this morning.

All 33 of the contestants will be introduced to the wider public on television across two nights next week, the first on Monday (22nd August) and then on Tuesday (23rd August).

Rose Escorts

Each of the girls is assisted by a rosebud as well as an escort, eight of whom have ties to our locality:

Barry Murphy is from St. Mullins, Co Carlow.  The 27-year-old went to school in New Ross, Co Wexford and rowed in Graignamanagh, Co Kilkenny. He’s a part-time suckler and sheep farmer and a full-time journalist with the Irish Farmers Journal.  Barry was President of University College Dublin (UCD) Students’ Union, spent two summers teaching computers in Tanzania and, as part of the Washington Ireland Program, interred for a summer with the New York State Comptroller at Wall Street.

Callan farmer Eoin Kennedy is 27.  He studied dairy business at UCD and spent time working and living in New Zealand.  After college he began his career on his family farm which he has developed into a dairy one. An active member of Macra na Feirme, he has a wide range of interests and hobbies including sports, running, public speaking, drama and performing on stage.  Eoin’s not new to escorting, he’s featured twice at the Queen of the Land festival.

Galmoy guy David Fogarty attended Coláiste Mhuire, Johnstown before studying Agricultural Science at University College Dublin. He’s worked with Teagasc and most recently on a large dairy farm in Co Wexford, which he’s managed.  In between he’s worked and travelled around New Zealand and Australia while closer to home he’s been involved with Galmoy GAA Club and is a keen Kilkenny hurling supporter.

Kevin Tynan is from Clorinka, Muckalee. He graduated from DCU with a Bachelor in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and works as a mechanical design engineer with Noreside Engineering.  He’s also no stranger to the stage having acted and sung from a young age, he regularly performs in pantomimes, plays and musicals. But he likes the great outdoors too, in particular adventure sports, and previously participated in the Dublin City Marathon.  Added to that his interests include comedy and cars.

Ballyfoyle’s Paddy Brennan has been busy since he graduated from the University of Limerick with a Bachelors of Science in pharmaceutical and industrial chemistry. He lived in Toronto, Canada before returning home to take up a role as quality control analyst for GSK in Dungarvan, Co Waterford but he also helps out on the family farm. An avid sportsperson, he enjoys golf, hurling, racquetball and swimming while he also recently organised a charity cycle from Malin Head to Mizen Head.

Podge Dunphy from Ballycallan is 25 and completed a Bachelor of Agriculture in Cork Institute of Technology.  A part-time farmer at home with Dad Pat, his day job is as an agricultural sales rep with Dalton’s Chancellors Mills in Kilkenny. He hurls with Graigue Ballycallan and enjoys cycling too, not just on home turf but has also peddled paths across Ireland and parts of mainland Europe.  He also loves to travel and destinations included a stint milking cows in New Zealand.

Digvijay Jondhale is aged 27. Born in Cavan, he grew up in Kilkenny city and moved to the UK in 2013 to complete a degree in medicine at University College London. When he’d qualified as a doctor, he returned to Belfast and worked in hospitals throughout the pandemic. He plans to base himself in Paris from next month to undertake an MBA to help him further an ambition of reducing the inefficiencies in public healthcare. Digvijay is a foodie and loves to travel, has visited over 50 countries, while another passion is helping others through volunteering and fundraising – he even completed a hike of Mount Kilimanjaro.

25-year-old ecologist, rugby player and self-taught pianist Brendan McSorley also loves to travel and has visited Poland, France, Switzerland, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Spain and Portugal this year alone. Though from Omagh, Co Tyrone, he spent seven years living in Danesfort, Co Kilkenny.  When younger he rode ponies for the Irish show jumping team and as an adult represented the Irish Universities and Ulsters U18s rugby teams. He graduated from Maynooth University with a BSc in Biomedical Science and from University College Cork with an MSc in Environmental Science.