Kerry, IRELAND –Tara Talbot, a 27-year-old Filipino-Irish born in Dublin, Ireland was crowned the 53rd Rose of Tralee at its annual festival on August 22, which was held at the Carlton Hotel in Tralee. She succeeds 2010 Rose of Tralee Clare Kambamettu of London. She won over 30 candidates that participated in the annual event from August 19 to 23.
Talbot, who moved to Australia with her family when she was five years old, is from the West End suburb of Brisbane, Australia. She never lost contact with her roots and in 2006, she returned to live between Dublin and Galway for three years.
A high school teacher, she is also pursuing a master’s degree in marketing. She is the second Rose from Queensland to bring the crown back to Australia and the fourth time the Rose crown has gone Down Under.
Wearing a bright floral 1950’s style frock during the wardrobe segment of the competition, Talbot made herself outstanding on stage and earned the judges vote that evening. As she was fitted with her crown, she was ecstatic and could barely contain herself.
She was the bookmaker’s favorite since the start of the beauty event on Monday. But even as she won the coveted title, she couldn’t quite believe it.
“I’m in shock to be honest. When I looked around the room today I thought anyone of us could have won.
“It’s been the best week of my life, crazy, frantic, the best experience I’ve ever had. It’s been amazing to meet the extended Irish community,” she told Australia’s Irish newspaper Irish Echo.
Her mother, Carmencita Talbot, was very proud of her daughter. “It’s great to be here and it’s lovely to see the crowds,” she told the IE.
Talbot, a member of the Queensland Irish Association, will spend the next year as the new ambassador for the Rose Tralee Festival. She got her first taste of what lies ahead for the year after she was crowned that evening. Event organizers took her to Denny Street to be feted in front of 25,000 well wishers during the midnight parade.
The new Rose woke up early the following morning after a two-hour sleep, and started to prepare for a full schedule on her first day of her new job. She will return to Queensland on September 10 before heading off to Auckland in New Zealand for the Ireland Rugby World Cup meet with Australia. She said she would be cheering for the Ireland team where heart is at the moment.
Talbot gets her tiara, a $40,000 round-the-world trip, a range of household wear and jewelry from the Newbridge Silverware and the use of a brand new Renault Megane.
“I’m looking forward to seeing some familiar faces [in Queensland] and it will be very emotional for me because it’s been a really wonderful ride.
She said she would miss her parents Carmencita and Ron, but she was looking forward to spending time with her grandfather Jack Talbot in Dublin. Speaking to the Irish Times, she described her family as “very close” and spoke fondly of her grandfather, 92. She said he is “absolute legend” who “recorded a CD of himself singing for his 90th birthday.”.
Although her Dublin boyfriend, Fionnan Henry, will not be with her when she returns to Queensland, she wants him to be by her side to be able to devote to human rights, a subject she is passionate about.
“It’s so rewarding and that’s what led me to change my path from teaching to a career in communications where I could convey that passion,” she told the Irish Independent.
She also said she would love to travel to the Philippines.
“I don’t know if that’s possible but I’m looking forward to working with any charity that is chosen,” she said.
News of Tara’s achievement has already reached the Philippines through her mother, who was immediately on the phone to relatives after the event.
“I was telling my sister and she was very happy. I had explained to her what the Rose of Tralee was about,” Mrs Talbot told the Irish Independent.
According to the the Rose of Tralee website, “the heart of the festival is the selection of Rose of Tralee which brings young women of Irish descent from around the world to County Kerry, Ireland for a global celebration of irish culture. The festival also includes street entertainment, carnival, live concerts, theatre, circus, markets, funfair, fireworks and our interntaionally renowned Rose Parade.”
Each year, representatives (roses) from UK, America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Europe, the Middle East, and Ireland come to Tralee to compete for the coveted title of Rose of Tralee. They participate in welcoming visitors and delegates from each region they represent and the streets of Tralee are transformed into a festival of entertainment.
The Rose of Tralee International Festival celebrated its 50 years in 2009.