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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Maeve McSweeney wins prestigious Rose of Tralee title

Photo courtesy of Maeve McSweeney

Marquette continuously attempts to increase diversity in its student body. In a way, every student helps develop a sense of cultural richness, which celebrates heritage, culture and tradition.

Recently, Maeve McSweeney, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, was awarded a title that honors her own heritage. McSweeney is a first generation Irish student and received the title of Chicago Rose of Tralee for 2015.

The Rose of Tralee festival is an international competition, which is held in several Irish communities all over the world, including Chicago. Held annually in County Kerry, Ireland, it is one of the most watched televised events in the country.

McSweeney emphasized that the Rose of Tralee competition is not a beauty contest, but it is important to be a representative for modern, young Irish women. “The Rose of Tralee is selected based on the winner’s personality and ability to be a role model and ambassador,” McSweeney said.

To be awarded the title of Chicago Rose, Maeve McSweeney had to go through a selection process, which included an application, sponsorship, a stage interview with an audience and a private interview with a panel of judges. “During the stage interview I also sang an Irish song as my talent portion,” McSweeney said. She sang the traditional Irish song, “The Parting Glass.”

Now, McSweeney awaits her upcoming (all-expenses paid) trip to Ireland to represent Chicago, where she will meet with other Roses from all around the world, including places like Abu Dhabi and Luxembourg. From there, all the young women have scheduled more interviews and events in which they are expected to appear. “If I make it past the regional competition, I will go back to Ireland in August to compete in the international competition,” McSweeney explained.

McSweeney is proud of her Irish heritage and believes that it is extremely important to encourage and instill pride of Irish heritage in those who surround her. Her family comes from many counties in Ireland, specifically Louth, Meath, Sligo, Mayo, Roscommon, Tipperary and Limerick.

As a way to become involved and to celebrate her culture, McSweeney began participating in events such as the Rose of Tralee. Last year, she took part in the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Chicago. “I like to stay involved in many Irish-American events in Chicago, through the Young Irish Fellowship Club and the American Ireland Fund Chicago Young Leaders,” McSweeney said.

Despite her busy schedule, the newest Chicago Rose stays involved in many organizations and activities around campus. In fact, McSweeney currently works as a resident assistant in McCormick Hall and also performs in the Meladies, the all-female acapella group on campus.

McSweeney spends much of her time volunteering at the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, fueling her passion and drive to become a pediatrician. Through her volunteering experience, McSweeney says she has developed a view of what is truly important and has nurtured many qualities, which she holds close to her heart.

The biological sciences student has clear goals for her future and is planning on attending medical school in the fall of 2016 to fulfill her dream of becoming a pediatrician. “After graduating in May, I plan to travel throughout Europe, spending most of my time in Ireland to visit family and to tour medical schools,” McSweeney said.

As McSweeney celebrates her culture in one of the most important Irish international competitions, Marquette cheers her on and celebrates the diversity of its campus, as well as the talent and pride of its student body.


History of the Rose of Tralee Festival

The Rose of Tralee festival, as it is known today, originated from Tralee’s ‘Carnival Queen,’ a popular local event which began to decline due to postwar emigration. In 1957, local business people from the town convened and agreed to revitalize the festival in a way that would keep the tradition alive. The competition was reinstated in 1959, maintaining a budget of 750 pounds.

The festival was initially based on an Irish love song by William Mulchinock called “The Rose of Tralee.” Mulchinock’s song stemmed from his infatuation with a woman from Tralee, Mary O’Connor, who was said to be exceptionally beautiful.

The festival continued to expand and received an increasing amount of attention from the media. In 1967, the competition extended eligibility to any woman of Irish descent, not only locals from Tralee. Eventually, the competition spread to each of the 32 counties of Ireland, as well as more than 20 centers worldwide, including Chicago.

Some of the locations of international centers qualified to choose Roses of their own include:

  • Boston
  • Dubai
  • New York
  • London
  • New Orleans
  • France
  • Luxembourg
  • Perth
  • Philadelphia
  • New Zealand
  • Melbourne
  • San Francisco
  • Sydney
  • Texas
  • Toronto

Regional finals are held in June in Portlaoise, where six women are selected to take part in the international Rose of Tralee festival. The international portion takes place annually in the town of Tralee, County Kerry. Currently, the event attempts to honor tradition and culture, while choosing a representative for modern Irish women. Since the festival’s beginning, more than 55 Roses have been chosen and, given the popularity of the event, the competition does not show any signs of slowing down.

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