Grace Wall with Euan McDonnell at O’Sullivan Menswear, Mullingar.

Euan chosen to be escort for Rose of Tralee

Euan McDonnell of Streamstown is one of 32 escorts at this year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival in Kerry. The 22-year-old engineering student is undertaking a masters at UCD, where he also completed his degree, and is thrilled to this “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

His mother, Mary McDonnell, encouraged him to enter and Euan was also inspired by the Westmeath Rose, Rachel Duffy of Rosemount. “She’s from the village where my mam is from… I was over in the US last summer but I saw all the videos of all the people out in Moate and coming back to Moate to celebrate her win,” says Euan.

“My mam just mentioned, sure why don’t you enter it? And then it lingered in the back of my head for a bit and then I said, I may as well.”

The first stage in the selection involved a lengthy questionnaire. After that, 80 applicants were chosen to attend one-to-one interviews, followed by a group interview in Wexford. Candidates were asked personal questions to determine their “attitude to the event”. “Just to make sure we’re the type of people that will help the Roses and know that the Roses are the centre of attention and not ourselves.”

A week later, Euan learned that he had been successful. His first duty was attending a bootcamp near Kenmare with fellow escorts, for team-bonding activities that included a muck-covered obstacle course. “By the end of it, it was like we knew each other weeks,” says Euan.

Next up is the festival itself, on August 18-22. The escorts will meet the Roses in Limerick on August 17. They travel to Tralee the next day, when they will discover which Rose they have been assigned to.

Escort of the Year wins a €1,000 cash prize and a €1,000 voucher for Benetti Menswear, but Euan is more interested in taking part. “There’s nothing really like it anywhere else and it’s great to do, a great experience, and I’ve heard of people who’ve done it before and they’re still talking about it; they’re still talking about the week they’ve had even six or seven years ago,” says Euan.

“It will be nice just meeting everyone and just being involved in the event,” he adds.

Euan is grateful to his main sponsor, Golden Vale Mart in Tullamore, as well as all the clothing shops ensuring he’s stylishly dressed for the festival: O’Sullivan Menswear and DV8 in Mullingar, and Guy Clothing and Galvin For Men in Tullamore.

Euan would also like to thank the following local businesses for sponsoring him: INRB Beef and Lamb, Streamstown, Clavin Heating and Plumbing in Castletown Geoghegan, NES Limited in Castletown Geoghegan and O'Reilly Commercials, Ballinalack. "I also want to acknowledge the support of Paddy Ryan's pub in Horseleap, who came on board as a sponsor over the bank holiday weekend," said Euan.

“It’s lovely, it’s brilliant in fact, to get the helping hand with all the sponsors.”