Our Galway Girl
In the midst of her still busy schedule, Rosie Burke talked us through what has been a whirlwind year for her with social events, charity work, community care and memorable celebrations as the Galway representative for the 2016 Rose of Tralee.
It all started in January 2016 when Rosie’s dad entered her in the search for the 2016 Galway Rose. Rosie was insanely busy studying for her final year exams at the time so the festival wasn’t even on her radar. Although initially nervous about the idea of juggling the two, she went ahead with the application, hoping it would be a welcome distraction from her studies.
After completing her final exams, the music loving cailín qualified as a vet and, with the summer at her feet, she was set for the experience of a lifetime. “It was a real whirlwind. Looking back I think ‘how did I do that?’ but when you’re in the moment you just do it. Things are thrown at you and you have to face them head on.”
In June, Rosie took part in the Galway Girl music video with Mundy and Sharon Shannon. The video saw thousands of people line the city’s main shopping street for the biggest ever live performance of the song, with our very own Galway girl Rosie at the epicenter playing alongside her heroes.
“They were singing Galway Girl and I was wearing the Galway Rose sash. That song has always been a favourite of mine, but it is so special to me now.”
Following a summer filled with ceremonies, launches and sports events, it was time for the roses to descend on their capital in Tralee. “We spent a week touring around and getting to know each other as it was the first time that all of the roses met. We had so many different trips, exciting visits and delicious meals – we were treated like royalty for those few days.”
Although glamorous and exciting, the Rose of Tralee Festival is also about giving people the platform to achieve great things. Previously inexperienced in voluntary work, Rosie now supports many charitable organisations including the Galway Hospice. Her most recent voluntary work involved a trip for both the roses and escorts to Chernobyl for five days, three of which were spent in a mental asylum in Belarus.
An eye-opening journey for all involved, the visit exposed the aftermath that exists as a result of the Chernobyl tragedy. Ever the optimist, Rosie managed to see the experience as a positive one. “It was heartbreaking but heart-warming at the same time. I had no previous experience with physical disability so to see the vast degrees of deformity was very difficult. To see beyond the disability and to just see the happy child was a life changing experience.”
This St. Patrick’s Day Rosie was on the go again. She represented Galway alongside her fellow roses in March at both the Chicago and New York St. Patrick’s Day parades. “Celebrating with our current Rose of Tralee, Maggie McEldowney, and her family and friends in Chicago was very special. My brother Michael and I played traditional Irish music around New York, meeting many talented musicians and singers of Irish descent along the way. We also had the opportunity to see the sights so it really was the trip of a lifetime!” On the cusp of beginning what will no doubt be a successful veterinary career, our 2016 Galway Rose shows no signs of slowing down.