The ‘best thing I’ve ever done’
It may take him a bit of time to recover, but Mullingar's Daniel Byrne says that being an escort at this year's Rose of Tralee festival is the “best thing I've ever done”.
The festival drew to a close last Tuesday night when Sinéad Flanagan from Limerick was crowned the Rose of Tralee 2019. For teacher Daniel it marked the close of what he says that most hectic and enjoyable week of his life.
“It was an absolute whirlwind of a week but it was absolutely fantastic. The highlight for myself was the parades, the Rose Ball and two TV nights themselves. You really were in a bubble for a week
“I really enjoyed meeting the Roses and the escorts from Ireland and abroad. We made friends and bonds for the future. It was just fantastic.”
Daniel and his fellow 31 escorts were each paired with two Roses. He had the honour of accompanying the Abu Dhabi Rose Karen Cashman and the Cork Rose Stephanie McCarthy. While he had the time of his life, the days were long, starting at round 8am and often finishing after 2am.
“Karen and Stephanie are both Cork girls. They are absolutely fantastic, they were a pleasure to escort.
“It's an intense week. There are 31 other lads and 32 Roses and you get to know each other so well. We are already planning so many reunions. I already have the opportunity to go to Frankfurt for the Christmas markets and we are going to New York for St Patrick's Day.”
Daniel said that one of the most interesting parts of the week was getting a behind the scenes look at the preparations that go into the two RTE shows, which culminate with the crowning of the Rose.
“The amount of work that goes into preparing for the two TV nights is incredible. You have RTE trying to keep a strict timetable and there is such a short window of opportunity to rehearse things like how you enter and get off the stage.”
Daniel says that his enjoyment of the festival was enhanced by the presence of his mother and father, Marie and Pat, who travelled down to the Kingdom to provide some moral support and to sample the festival's unique atmosphere.
“They came down for the Sunday and Monday night when the escort of the year was announced. It was a massive eye opener for them. They didn't realise how much work went on behind the scenes.”
With this year's Rose of Tralee is done and dusted, the call has already out by organising committee for applications to escort in 2020.
Daniel, who thanked the people of Mullingar and his sponsors (Tom Bermingham Menswear, Con's Bar and Clara Fields) for their support, says that he learned a lot over the course of the week and would recommend the experience to anyone. Just make sure you have plenty of reserves of energy.
“You definitely have to be flexible and be able to work as a team and be able to cope with the stress and responsibility of it all. It was such an amazing experience.”