Rose rushes home to granny

Story by Tom Kelly

Wednesday, 2nd September, 2009 12:00pm

Charmaine Kenny the 2009 Rose of Tralee is bracing herself for her year of travel, hard work and fun as the face of Ireland's best loved pageant - but the dutiful granddaughter made sure that her first stop post-victory was in Mullingar, home of her grandmother Teresa Kenny who is currently unwell.

Teresa watched her granddaughter's interview and crowning on RTÉ before speaking to her after the show. Charmaine said: "I'm sure she couldn't hear me but I could hear her."

Charmaine arrived in Mullingar last Friday night but was unable to stay over and travelled back to Kerry through the night to continue her duties as Rose.

Her connections with Mullingar are manifold. Her mother Marian (neé Nally) is from Gaybrook while her father, Leon Kenny, is originally from Ginnell Terrace in Mullingar. While they now live in Kildare, where Charmaine was born, the Kennys and the Nallys still live here.

Add to that the fact that her escort for the competition was no other than Mullingar post man Gordon Ward and it is hard to see how she could escape the place.

In her interview with Ray D'Arcy, Charmaine revealed that Gordon used to pick up the newspaper for her grand uncle Nicholas everyday before he passed away. "He has a heart of gold," she said.

The pair also discovered several other links: Gordon previously worked for Charmaine's uncle and his aunt-in-law is a relation of her mother. Gordon was rightly proud of his Rose.

"I'm delighted for her," he said. "I was telling her all week that she could win it."

Charmaine didn't forget to give a shout out to Westmeath at a press conference held the morning after her big win. In a message to her family, friends and supporters she said: "Hello to everyone and I look forward to visiting."

Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner last Friday evening Charmaine said that she would be making a point of visiting with her crown in the next few weeks.

"I can't tell you exactly when as yet but as soon as I can I'll be there in Mullingar."

Trinity graduate Charmaine wowed the judges with her determination to start her own business despite the recession.

"Because I am not in full-time employment and want to do my own thing I'm pretty flexible. It might take me longer than it would have but I will do it," said the former management consultant.

Charmaine's parents Leon and Marian had been convinced all along that their daughter would shine - as was boyfriend

Sean Hogan from Waterford who actually entered her in the competition.

Her father said: "We were very excited about the whole thing, it's great. She's a deserving winner. I think she's going to be a great Rose of Tralee."

Charmaine's mother Marian was also very proud of her daughter's achievement and said: "We're just elated. We're so thrilled for her."

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