The lit­tle girl from Of­faly who be­came a doc­tor then re­alised her Dome dream

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - NEWS - by Craig Hughes

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

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