THE MAKING OF A ROSE
The little girl from Offaly who became a doctor then realised her Dome dream
EVER since she was a little girl, Jennifer Byrne has watched the Rose of Tralee with her mother and grandmother.
And looking here at a picture of her as a tiny tot – bright eyes, beaming smile, adorable dimples, carefully coordinated gúna and hairpiece with a subtle bit of bling on her wrist – you could even say she was born to it.
When Jennifer’s mother brought her to the winner’s parade in Tralee, she dreamt of being in the winning Rose’s shoes. And earlier this week her dream came true.
‘I always watched the Rose of Tralee with my granny and mother every year.
‘It’s a bit like the Late Late Toy Show, you just can’t miss it. When I was 12 I went down to Tralee for the parade with my mother and saw all the Roses and they all looked like they were having such a good time
‘When I was 12 I thought, I want to do that’
and I thought I wanted to do it,’ says Jennifer.
The 24-year-old junior doctor from Clonaderig, Co. Offaly, was crowned the Rose of Tralee in front of a packed dome and a television audience of more than 720,000 on Tuesday night.
‘After the final parade she was whisked off to an exclusive party with her friends and family and enjoyed a helicopter trip over Killarney the following day.
Last night she returned to a homecoming party in her native Offaly where a large crowd gathered to celebrate with the new local celebrity.
Jennifer says: ‘It’s been absolutely fantastic, I’m loving every minute of it. I’ve got so many cards and gifts and my phone never stops. I haven’t got a chance to reply to all the texts and snapchats yet!’
With a hectic work life in the emergency department at University Hospital Galway and a busy sporting and social life, it’s not surprising that Dr Byrne needed a little prompting to take part in this year’s competition.
‘My mother saw an ad in the paper and she told me I should do it. I thought about it for a while because I wasn’t sure if the time was right but eventually I decided to go for it. The people in the Offaly rose centre got back to me the very next day and that’s when it all started. I met last year’s Offaly Rose and she told me it was a great experience, and it just took off from there.’
Dr Byrne has decided not to give up her day job as a junior doctor during her reign, instead she will reduce her hours in order to fulfill her duties as the Rose of Tralee.
‘Some of the past Roses have told me to just take it all in and not to worry about work yet. I don’t think I’ll give it up completely so I’ll see what happens in the coming weeks when I’ve had a chance to assess things,’ she says.
‘I’d like to be a role model to young girls’
Despite the challenging conditions faced by patients and staff in A&Es across the country Dr Byrne insists she loves working there.
‘I really enjoy it, I love helping patients. People do get frustrated when they’re waiting on trolleys but I find once they get seen by a doctor or a nurse and they see how hard they work they are generally happy,’ she says.
Two years ago, her medical studies brought her to Africa where she volunteered in a Zambian hospital.
‘In 2015 I volunteered abroad in Mpongwe Mission Hospital in Zambia for a month. We worked nine to five in the hospital seeing patients and taking bloods and when we weren’t working we were playing soccer with the kids in the village. It made me realise how fortunate we are here in Ireland.’
When she’s not busy in the hospital Jennifer can be found on a soccer pitch. She has a number of
Delightful baby With a winning smile, gorgeous outfit and matching headpiece, baby Jennifer Byrne looks every inch the Rose
Off to school The naturally photogenic Jennifer is the picture of optimism and enthusiasm as she sets off to school
Family girl The future Rose poses along with mother Mary, sister Lorraine, brother Terry and father Declan
poise: Jennifer flashes that winning smile as she is crowned 2017 Rose of Tralee earlier this week
Devoted doctor Jennifer with children in Mpongwe, Zambia, where she volunteered in a Mission hospital