Rose of Tralee winner Maggie McEldowney visits Donegal with Zoe McGettigan

Chicago Rose here on a visit to promote the Rose of Tralee

Declan Magee


Declan Magee


Rose of Tralee winner Maggie McEldowney visits Donegal Donegal with Zoe McGettigan

Rose of Tralee Maggie McEldowney with Zoe McGettigan. Photo Brian McDaid.

The winner of last year's Rose of Tralee competition is encouraging potential candidates to enter when the Donegal selection takes place in the county in March.

Chicago Rose Maggie McEldowney was speaking on Wednesday during a visit to the county to promote the Rose of Tralee for 2017. Maggie won the competition after taking three attempts to make it through her local selection.

The Donegal selection night will take place on March 26th in the Clanree Hotel in Letterkenny.

The Chicago Rose was making her first visit to Donegal on Wednesday and her guide for the day was Donegal Rose Zoe McGettigan.

The two women have become very good friends since meeting during the 2016 competition. “We kinda hit it off,” Maggie said. “We were by each other on the bus from day one and it went from there. Zoe would walk in and light the room up. She draws people to her.”

The Donegal Rose said she had a feeling about how the competition would go. “Maggie was my winner, I knew she would win it. We have become really good friends.”

“We are very lucky,” the competition’s winner said.

She finds it hard to put into words how lucky she feels about winning the title. “Part of it feels like a lifetime, another part of it feels like a blink of an eye. It has really been spectacular and I can’t really put it into words just to say how lucky I am, how grateful I am for this opportunity. I am spoiled rotten I get to be able to go to see all my friends and see where they grew up.”

Maggie is back in Ireland almost every month as she juggles being the title holder with her job as director of development at Marist High School in Chicago.

She was in India with the Hope Foundation in November and will be heading to Chernobyl with a group of Roses and escorts next month.

For Zoe the highlight of the experience is the friendships she has made. “I have made so many friends since it and we get closer every time we meet up.”

The friendship between the two women seems typical of the experience of competition for entrants.