Sinéad Flanagan wins Rose crown for Limerick

Sinéad Flanagan from Limerick is the 2019 International Rose Of Tralee. Picture: Dominick Walsh

Sinéad Flanagan from Limerick is the 2019 International Rose Of Tralee. Picture: Dominick Walsh

Limerick doctor Sinéad Flanagan has been crowned the 2019 International Rose of Tralee.

The 27-year-old was chosen from 32 young women who travelled from all over the world to the Kerry town for the annual festival.

She told host Dáithí Ó Sé: "I think you can tell by me I'm a bit shocked alright!" 

Flanagan described the experience as "amazing".

"It's Limerick's year," she said backstage. "We've had the All-Ireland, the league, the Munster final and now the Rose of Tralee.”

Sydney Rose Rebecca Mazza on stage in Tralee with host Daithi Ó Sé. Picture: Dominick Walsh

Sydney Rose Rebecca Mazza on stage in Tralee with host Daithi Ó Sé. Picture: Dominick Walsh

The new Rose grew up in Mungret and now lives in Adare, Co Limerick. After qualifying as a physiotherapist at University of Limerick, she studied Medicine in University College Cork and graduated in 2018.

Melbourne Rose Jordan Balfry on stage at the Tralee ‘Dome’. Picture: Dominick Walsh

Melbourne Rose Jordan Balfry on stage at the Tralee ‘Dome’. Picture: Dominick Walsh

South Australian Rose Simone Hendricks Buchanan on stage in Tralee.

South Australian Rose Simone Hendricks Buchanan on stage in Tralee.

Australia sent three representatives this year. Perth, Queensland and Darwin were not represented in 2019 after organisers limited numbers by introducing a rotation system for the first time.

Sydney’s representative was 24-year-old speech pathologist Rebecca Mazza. Born and raised in Perth, she moved to Sydney to pursue her career after completing her masters.

Limerick-born Jordan Balfry represented Melbourne. The 28-year-old occupational therapist is a recent arrival in Australia having moved to the Victorian capital two years ago.

South Australian Rose Simone Hendrick Buchanan was also born in Ireland but moved to Adelaide aged 11. Cork-born and raised in Dingle, Hendrick Buchahan is studying to be a primary schoolteacher.

Arizona Rose Kayla Gray made history during the pageant after becoming the first Rose of Tralee contestant to get a tattoo backstage during the televised finals.

There was controversy ahead of the televised event after Newstalk radio presenter Susan Keogh criticised the show’s host Daithi Ó Sé who claimed the Rose concept ‘empowered women’.

Ms Keogh said she had “never heard such bulls**t” and that the idea it empowered women was a “complete oversell”.

She asked: “Where is the body diversity. Will you see any fat roses?”.

Keogh also questioned where were the Roses from the Travelling community, the homeless and from direct provision. “It does not represent modern Ireland, “ she said.

She also asked why the women who do not have degrees are not represented in the live final.

But 2018 winner Kirsten Mate Maher fiercely defended the festival, saying: “I don’t have a degree, I haven’t set foot in college yet”.

The Waterford Rose is from a diverse family background. Her father is a former Zambian army officer; her mother is from Waterford.

“She (Ms Keogh) is attention-seeking ... I think it is really nasty and her views are wrong,” she said.