Niall O'Brien is going to the Rose of Tralee final this year.
Rosemount publican Niall O'Brien has his summer holidays sorted - but it'll be a working holiday, for he's off to Kerry for the Rose of Tralee festival, in the role of escort.
It's a second time-round responsibility for Niall, who runs The Stile in his home village: two years ago, he was there as escort for the German Rose, Meath woman, Ruth Levins.
As a result, he can't wait for this year's festival, which runs from August 17 to 21.
"It's hugely enjoyable, and the friends you make are unbelievable. It's an experience that is hard to explain, but when you do experience it, you have a bond with the other people who have done it," he says.
A staunch GAA man - he has two years experience under his belt as secretary of Rosemount GAA - Niall first went down for the Rose festival in 2006, when his friend Edel O'Connor was the Westmeath Rose and became the first Westmeath woman to appear in The Dome.
A year later, another friend of his was chosen - Marissa Murray - and Niall went down again to lend his support.
"In 2010, I got the opportunity to apply, so I went for it," he says.
There is a selection process, and having been down once in the role of escort is no guarantee of a second chance in the role, so this year, as two years ago, he had to go through interviews in Dublin before being told he was chosen for the escorts' bootcamp on May 12-13.
"It's all about being a team player: you are part of a big team - the escort team - but also the festival team, so rather than have 35 lads just meet each other for the first time at the festival, they bring you down, and let you get to know each other," he explains.
There were a number of team-building exercises: a six-hour trek up and down Carrauntoohil the most testing of those, and following that, a night camping on the beautiful Valentia Island.
Around the campfire, there was a table quiz (all questions related to the Rose festival) and a sing-song.
The next day, it was off to visit the slate quarry on Valentia, then kayaking, before returning to Tralee for a photoshoot with six of the Roses.
Niall views the role as one of responsibility: it's his role to help look after whatever Rose he is nominated to accompany; he has to make sure she gets to events on time and without difficulty; and he has also the duty of representing the festival well.
"You do a lot of running about down there, but it is hugely enjoyable," he says.
Son of Bruno and Betty O'Brien, Niall will be one of three Westmeath representatives with a big role at the festival, since two of the Roses are Westmeath women.
Flying the county flag at the event will be Aisling Baker, from Lissoy, near Glasson, and representing Sunderland, is Talitha Orlandi, a pharmacy student from Mullingar who is studying at the University of Sunderland.