A delighted Jennifer Byrne who was selected as the 2017 Rose of Tralee onstage in the Rose of Tralee International Festival Dome on Tuesday 22 August 2017. Jennifer represented Offaly in this year’s Festval. Photo: Domnick Walsh.

Whirlwind few years for former Rose of Tralee Jennifer

Former Rose of Tralee Jennifer Jones (née Byrne) is planning to relocate to Vancouver later this year, following her wedding in August last to fellow doctor Dara Jones, from Tulsk, Co Roscommon.

The former Offaly Rose and her now husband, who have been together for eight years after first meeting at a tag rugby tournament in Galway, are currently enjoying a holiday in Bali and Japan.

Jennifer described the trip as “nearly like a second honeymoon.” The couple went to Mexico for two weeks on their honeymoon last year but wanted to do some more travelling this year.

Jennifer and Dara were married in St Colmcille's Church, Ballinahown, and the wedding reception was held at Glasson Lakehouse.

“It was a really special day for us and thankfully the sun was shining so it was really nice,” she said. “I got ready in my home house in Clonaderig and then went to the church with dad and it was a really nice ceremony.” The ceremony was officiated by Fr Brendan O’Sullivan.

Speaking about her honeymoon in Mexico, Jennifer stated: “We absolutely loved it, The honeymoon is always going to be very special. We went straight after the wedding, flew out to Mexico and we stayed in a resort near Cancún, but it was really nice.”

Jennifer added that she enjoys diving and she and Dara went diving in the caves in Mexico too. “We had a great trip. It was a great experience and something that we'll always cherish.”

The move to Vancouver is prompted by a desire to experience a new location.

“We both have jobs over there now so I'll be working as a GP in Vancouver. I've only ever worked in Ireland so I think it would be good to experience working in another country as well.

“We're going to Vancouver mainly just to see a new country and to experience it. I'm just looking forward to that new and exciting adventure as well. I have cousins that are in Vancouver at the moment as well,” added Jennifer.

She said that they would like to enjoy some outdoor activities there such as hiking and skiing.

Discussing her relationship with Dara, the former Our Lady’s Bower student said: “We have a lot of common interests. We both enjoy anything active, so we enjoy kind of going off and doing anything outdoors. We’re both interested in watching sport and then obviously he's interested in travelling as well.”

When Jennifer won the Rose of Tralee in 2017 she had just started on a GP training scheme. Jennifer studied Medicine in NUI Galway before completing the Western GP training scheme.

She graduated in 2021 and is now working as a GP in Galway.

“When you're on the GP scheme you two years in the hospital doing the rotations and then you're out in general practice for two years so it's very structured and then once when you finish it you're kind of out on your own to a certain extent. I've enjoyed working over the last two years and felt lucky to be able to work during the pandemic. It was kind of nice to have that structure of still going into work,” she explained.

The young doctor said that she really enjoys working as a GP. “What's great about being a GP now is that you can specialise in certain areas of it. I do a lot of women's health which I really enjoy. I'm very happy in my career as a GP and I'm pretty sure that's what I want to keep doing going forward.”

Jennifer had a lot of highlights from her Rose of Tralee experience and said that she had a lot of experiences that she wouldn't have had otherwise. “Definitely the whole festival down in Tralee was a highlight itself. There (were) just so many events down there. I'm still very good friends with a lot of the girls that I was in the Rose of Tralee with so it's nice to have lifelong friends from it.

Another big highlight for Jennifer was the charity work and the travel she had the opportunity to experience. “I went to Kolkata with the Hope Foundation and then with the Adi Roche's Chernobyl Children International to Belarus. Then I went to Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Australia and New York for St Patrick's Day as well. It was a really good experience to get to go to all those countries and see the Irish diaspora all over the world.”

Jennifer added that people still recognise her and will stop her on the street to have a chat with her about her Rose of Tralee experience. The local doctor said that she comes home to Ballinahown often and still has good friends that she went to school with in Our Lady’s Bower.

Jennifer is a huge lover of sports and played with the Galway United Women's team prior to the pandemic. She was on the Irish under 17 and under 19 international soccer teams and reached the final of the under 17 European Championship in 2010. Jennifer also reached the quarter final of the under 17 FIFA World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago in the same year.

The Offaly woman represented Ireland at the under 19 level in the European championships too. Jennifer said that her time playing soccer was “fantastic.”

“They're really good memories and ones that I'll always cherish forever. I actually represented Ireland as well at the World University Games in South Korea in fourth year in college in 2015.”

“Sports have always been a huge part of my life and I still do enjoy playing it and I definitely miss it now but I just haven't got a chance to go back since the pandemic really.”

Jennifer also previously played Gaelic football for Garrycastle and won several titles from under 14 level up to senior championships. “I was part of the Westmeath team that won the all Ireland Intermediate Championship.”

Jennifer is looking forward to watching Ireland in the Fifa Women’s World Cup which kicks off next month as she knows many of the Irish players such as Denise O’Sullivan, Megan Campbell, Grace Maloney and the captain Katie McCabe.

“Some of them were on the squad that I played with at under 17 and under 19. I think it's great that women's sport is getting so much coverage for it now and I'm really looking forward to the World Cup. I'll definitely be following it closely and it's very exciting for Irish women's soccer and I hope that they do really well.”