THE Greenvale hotel was packed to capacity last Wednesday night, as one by one the fifteen glamorous ladies hoping to be crowned the 2013 Tyrone Rose, took to the stage to have a chat with the very funny Jimmy Cowen who was compere for the evening.
It was just into the early hours of Thursday morning when it was announced that Joanne O’Neill from Brackaville, would be succeeding the 2012 rose Catherine Sherry as the Tyrone Rose for 2013.
Joanne was sponsored by the Michaela Foundation, the charity set up in memory of the late Michaela McAreavey who was murdered on her Honeymoon in January 2011.
Speaking to the TIMES about how it felt to be the 2013 Tyrone Rose, Joanne said that she has been completely overwhelmed by it all since Wednesday night.
She said: “It feels really really good, but so overwhelming. I’m delighted to be named this year’s Tyrone rose and I’m really looking forward to the year ahead.”
Joanne said she couldn’t believe it when her name was announced, “I was really shocked, and I was shaking, I didn’t know what to do but I was looked after really well by everyone,” she said.
Talking about her experiences leading up to Wednesday night Joanne said that the Tyrone centre are a credit to the competition as they ran everything so smoothly for all involved.
Joanne said: “The Tyrone centre do everything really, really well, it really is a credit to Colin Hampsey and all the team. From the very start, we were treated like Royalty, there was an information evening, another evening in the Greenvale hotel, nights out, and trips away with all the other Rose contestants which was really good. It gave us all a great opportunity to get to know each other which was brilliant.”
Speaking about her sponsor the Michaela Foundation, Joanne said she wanted to use her opportunity as a rose contestant as a platform to support a local charity.
She said: “I chose the Michaela Foundation as I really respect their values and what they stand for. They are very supportive of young girls and I immediately think of what they are already doing in the country with Summer Camps which is great for the local community. I would encourage anyone who wants to get involved to definitely volunteer for the Summer Camps and help out. Also the scholarships they offer to undergraduates, they really benefity young people and think it’s a really worthwhile cause.
“As well as that, through the foundation it is an opportunity to promote the values and beliefs in which Michaela lived her life. The Foundation have been really supportive and encouraging me along the way.”
Joanne told the TIMES that she has been really touched by the support she has received. She said: “I want to thank my family and friends for supporting me and being there for me, not just those who were there on the night but everyone who has sent me lovely messages I really appreciate each and every one of them.”
Joanne added: “I’m really excited for the year ahead and every day is just a bonus to me and I’m just going to enjoy it.”
Speaking on the success of this year’s event, Tyrone Co-ordinator Colin Hampsey, said, “We are delighted with the success of this year’s event, and the calibre of the Roses this year has been exceptional, we have a wonderful new Rose in Joanne O’Neill and have no doubt she will be an amazing representative of the 14 other magnificent Roses who took part, and follow in the footsteps of the amazing 2012 Tyrone Rose Catherine Sherry who made it all the way to the Dome.”
Joanne will now travel to Portlaoise in June where she will compete in the Regional heat and hope to be one of seven ladies selected to go ahead to the International final in Tralee in August.