A shocked Rachel Duffy from Rosemount pictured with presenter Daithi O Se just after she was announced as the 2022 Rose of Tralee last night.

Rosemount's Rachel still stunned by Rose win!

The newly-crowned Rose of Tralee, and the first person from Westmeath to ever win the coveted title, Rachel Duffy, has admitted that her plans to return to NUIG in two weeks to begin a Masters in secondary teaching may have to be put on hold for the time being as she comes to terms with her huge win.

As she fielded questions from the media in her hotel bedroom in Tralee this morning, surrounded by flowers and champagne, a beaming Rachel said her dream of becoming a teacher is something she does want to follow. “I’m not sure yet, we’ll see, but I’m young and I’ve lots of time on my hands,” she said.

The 24-year-old was overcome with emotion in Tralee when presenter, Dáithí Ó Sé announced that she had been chosen as the 2022 Rose of Tralee and she paid tribute to her family and her community for their on-going love and support.

Family and community was a recurring theme in the NUIG Drama graduate’s interviews today, and she poignantly recalled how the close-knit community of Rosemount had brought her and her family “over the line” after the death of her beloved mother when she was just nine years old.

“The people of my community got us over the line and were always there for anything we ever needed. I’m very lucky,” she told Mary Wilson in an interview for Morning Ireland on RTE Radio 1 on Tuesday morning.

She said the whole experience of being selected to represent her native Westmeath and the village of Rosemount in the Rose of Tralee contest was “a privilege” and she had made “lifelong friendships and memories” with her fellow Roses that she will treasure forever.

“Regardless of winning in the end, the whole experience was just so amazing,” the Rose of Tralee told Morning Ireland. “To see the joy on my family’s faces throughout the week, to see the craic they were having,” she said, adding that even for such a happy time there were “lots of tears”.

As she posed for photographs and signed autographs in the legendary Rose Garden in Tralee Town Park this afternoon, amid 6,000 roses, Rachel said she was still trying to come to terms with the fact that she is the 2022 Rose of Tralee.

“To say I was stunned when my name was called out is an understatement,” she said, “it’s still settling in and it’s just such an honour and such a privilege.”

The newly-crowned Rose was also shocked to learn that she has now overtaken former ‘One Direction’ pop star, Niall Horan, as the first name that pops up under Westmeath on Google’s search engine. “That’s crazy, just crazy,” she said. “Niall was really popular especially during the fleadh.”

After making history by becoming the first ever Rose of Tralee from the county, Rachel said 2022 was “a great year” for Westmeath, after winning the Tailteann Cup, hosting the Fleadh Cheoil “and now we have the Rose of Tralee”, she told Dáithi Ó Sé in Tralee.