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Jackie Healy-Rae Junior among six Kerry lads to graduate as Rose Escorts

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SIX young Kerry men have been lauded as the perfect gentlemen as they proved they have what it takes to play a key role as escorts in this year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival.

Jackie Healy-Rae Junior (22), Thomas Lynch (28), Joseph Meehan (24), Sean O'Connor (26), Niall O'Hara (28) and Shane Thornton (27), who already impressed through an interview process at the Glen Royal Hotel in Maynooth in April, were put through their paces over the bank holiday weekend at the annual escort bootcamp along the Wild Atlantic Way in Kerry.

Kilgarvan native Jackie is the son of Independent TD Michael Healy-Rae, and is looking forward to taking on the coveted role of escort at the Rose of Tralee festival which runs from August 16 to 22. “It should be something a bit different!” he told Killarney Advertiser.

Jackie, together with Thomas, Castleisland, Joseph, of Doon, Tralee, Sean O’Connor, Waterville and Killarney, Shane Thornton, Listowel, and London-raised Niall O’Hara, whose mum is from Camp and whose dad is from Leitrim, were selected to be among the 64 Rose Escorts at this year’s festival.

They had to pass a number of endurance tests and team-building exercises before they could graduate as fully-fledged escorts.

The Rose of Tralee International Festival’s Communications Manager, John Drummey, said: “The Rose Escorts spent three days in Kerry where they undertook a number of gruelling, yet fun, tasks to prepare them for the festival in August. It was not because the ladies love Milk Tray but because the lads prefer Roses. Around 200 men aged between 21 and 30 applied to become Rose Escorts at this year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival and following a detailed interview process, the final 64, the most ever, were selected to take part in a Boot Camp weekend in the Kingdom to help them cope with the demands of a busy week in Tralee.”

The lads had to carry out a range activities including a hike over Mount Brandon – Ireland’s second highest mountain – cliff diving, water-skiing, cycling, turf-footing, abseiling, kayaking, surfing, ironing and sewing in order to prove they will have the stamina to be a Rose Escort.

This year’s Rose Escort Bootcamp activities were supported by Kerry County Council and Kerry Civil Defence, under Civil Defence Officer Tom Brosnan, who played a major role in the transport and logistics of the event.

Over the course of the weekend, the Rose Escorts experienced the visitor facilities in Castlegregory, Derrynane, Waterville, Valentia Island, Dingle, Kerry Head and Tralee.

Looking ahead to the year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival, one of the 64 lads will be selected as the Rose Escort of the Year live on RTÉ One on Monday, August 21.

The 2016 Escort of the Year, John Slowey from Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, said: “Having been selected as the Escort of the Year was nothing short of a great honour. The opportunity to represent a fantastic group and to accompany our Rose of Tralee, Maggie McEldowney, at numerous events has been a brilliant experience. I've travelled extensively attending many charity events and Rose reunions while also working closely with a fantastic Rose of Tralee Team who couldn't have done any more for me. I’ve made memories and friendships that will be cherished forever.”

Full details of this year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival are available from www.roseoftralee.ie, Facebook and Twitter @roseoftralee_.

 


 
Above: Jackie Healy-Rae Junior, fifth from left, with Conor Halpin (Waterford); Paul Fitzgerald (Limerick); Conor Sheridan (Offaly); Maggie McEldowney (Rose of Tralee); and Joseph Meehan (Kerry). PICTURE: DOMNICK WALSH PHOTOGRAPHY

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NPWS survey to find out impact of fires

By Michelle Crean The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has commissioned a comprehensive survey on the impact of fires over the past four decades – in particular Killarney National Park in April. The tender, worth €300,000, and named ‘Study on the Impact of Fires On The Biodiversity of Killarney National Park’, seeks to find […]

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By Michelle Crean

The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has commissioned a comprehensive survey on the impact of fires over the past four decades – in particular Killarney National Park in April.

The tender, worth €300,000, and named ‘Study on the Impact of Fires On The Biodiversity of Killarney National Park’, seeks to find out the biological impacts of the fires in the 26,000 acre park.

The fires in April burned from Friday night on April 23 until around 12pm the following Monday when they were finally brought under control.

Parts of the Park were scorched resulting in flora and fauna being wiped out. Some fires came as close as 10 metres to a church and school in the Black Valley area.

Fires raged near Tomies Wood and fire crews from five different districts quenched fires near the properties under threat. A real threat was for The Oak Woods but fire fighters managed to avert danger.

The fire is believed to have begun on the Kenmare Road area escalated by the strong winds.

“The purpose of this tender is to commission a comprehensive survey of the impacts, and the chrono-sequence of fire recovery or otherwise, on lands burned over the past four decades, as well as surveys in unburned areas, in order to assess the biological impacts of the fires, in particular the fire of April 2021, on the biodiversity of Killarney National Park,” an NPWS spokesperson told the Killarney Advertiser.

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Killarney spin will bring comfort to patients

By Michelle Crean Ahead of this year’s ladies only 54321 Challenge a number of spinathons are taking place, including in Killarney town. Sunday, August 15 a group of 10 ladies plan a spinathon day in Killarney ahead of their four day epic adventure from Thursday, August 19 to Sunday 22. This year due to COVID […]

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By Michelle Crean

Ahead of this year’s ladies only 54321 Challenge a number of spinathons are taking place, including in Killarney town.

Sunday, August 15 a group of 10 ladies plan a spinathon day in Killarney ahead of their four day epic adventure from Thursday, August 19 to Sunday 22.

This year due to COVID restrictions the 54321 team will run with two teams of five people, all female – who are raising funds for one single charity – Comfort for Chemo Kerry.

Their four day challenge will include a cycle the Ring of Kerry on day one (Thursday 19), a climb up Carrantuohil on day two (Friday 20), a cycle from Killarney to the foot of Cnoc Na Tobair and then climb Cnoc Na Tobair on day three (Saturday 21) finishing off with a cycle of the Skellig Ring on day four (Sunday 22).

In advance of the ninth annual challenge they will first participate in the spinathons at various locations to help raise much needed funds for this year’s chosen charity.

The first of the spinathons will take place on Saturday, July 31 in Listowel, Killorglin, Dingle, Cahersiveen. On the day volunteers will take to the spinning bikes from 10am to 5pm in different locations around these towns.
This will be followed by Killarney on Sunday, August 15, and Tralee on Saturday, August 28.

When choosing this year’s charity, organisers contacted a past participant and a dear friend, Mairead Dunphy from Glencar who is currently on her own journey with cancer.

“We wanted to show our support to Mairead and knowing that she would like to support those who have supported her on her journey so far, she had already being looking at ideas to raise much needed funds for Comfort for Chemo Kerry,” TJ O’Connor said.

“Please support Comfort for Chemo Kerry by giving what you can.”

For more information about the spinathons go to www.54321challenge.org or the Comfort for Chemo Kerry Facebook page for online donation information.

There’s also a GoFundMe page: ‘Comfort for Chemo Kerry – 54321 Challenge 2021’ which has a €20,000 target set up.

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