Meath Rose to dazzle at festival in style from St Vincent de Paul

Louise Walsh

Meath's entry to the Rose of Tralee will raise the fashion stakes at the international festival this week, dressed in style from St Vincent de Paul.

Fashion-loving Saoirse McGrath (23) from Skryne bought most of her wardrobe for the event at the charity shop, in order to save money and help others.

The thoughtful nursing student also wants to use her role as the Meath Rose to highlight the importance of sport in improving mental health.

A medal winner with both Skryne Ladies GAA and Dunboyne AC, she literally hit the ground running after being crowned Meath Rose last April - and has since taken part in a 50 mile walk in aid of the Irish Cancer Society and a 50k cycle for Enable Ireland.

"I really think that the more I put into this year, the more I'll get out of it," she said.

When Saoirse was told she would need about 25-day dresses for the festival, she thought she'd try St Vincent de Paul.

"Before I tried boutiques, I said I'd drop into St Vincent De Paul first as you can get fabulous stuff and designer gear there and the money goes to a good cause.

"I picked up 16 dresses for something like €120, which is what you'd probably pay for one in a boutique and they're all really amazing."

She is also intent on using her crown to promote the positive impact sport can have on mental health.

"Sport is a huge part of my life and while it's not a solution to mental health issues, it can help.

"I worked on placement in a psychiatric day hospital with a recovery group of teenagers who didn't do much exercise.

"We started a walking group and they all noticed a huge improvement in their mood"

Participating in the Rose of Tralee is like a dream come true for Saoirse who grew up with her two brothers Senan and Tiernan.

"I always watched the Rose of Tralee growing up. Surrounded by two brothers, I had to watch wrestling and Lord of the Ring and other guy stuff so this was my thing.

"I remember the Meath Rose in 2011 Dearbhla Toal coming into school and talking about her experiences and all the friends she met. I just thought there and then that it was something I wanted to do."

However, a failed attempt at the Meath title when she was just 19 years old didn't deter her from trying a second time - and winning.

"I was only 19 and the youngest entrant but it was a fantastic experience and the girls I met there were super. I just wanted to be part of it again."

The accomplished singer is keeping her party piece secret ahead of her appearance at the Rose of Tralee where she will be cheered on by her parents Senan and Susan, two brothers and relatives.

She has thanked former Meath Rose Anne Lynam for all her help.

"She has been like a sister to me. She has been so supportive and even rocked up to my house with a load of dresses after I won."

"I've already made friends for life from this so anything else will be a bonus", she concluded.

Proud dad Senan said: "It's a great achievement for Saoirse but that's her - she puts her whole heart into everything she does and gives her full commitment .

Most Read in #Discover