A rambling rose

A rambling rose Aoife Murray with Bishop Fintan Monahan.

Last month 400 pilgrims set out from the Diocese of Killaloe on the summer pilgrimage to Lourdes. The group included Bishop Fintan Monahan, eight priests, 52 assisted pilgrims, nursing and hospitality staff, 48 youth helpers, 10 youth leaders, the choir from the parish of Ogonnelloe and one Rose.

The Clare Rose of Tralee contestant, Aoife Murray volunteered on the pilgrimage as part of the caring staff in the hospital.

“I was there in 2009 as a youth volunteer and I have always wanted to go back,” she says. “I guess it is five intense days and when you come back you are very tired, but I made great friends and met some really amazing people.”

Aoife actually decided to volunteer for the pilgrimage before she became a rose. The 24-year-old moved to Dublin for her job a year and a half ago and this was the first time since 2009 that she could take the time off to travel. Along with her duties on the caring staff, Aoife was given the honour of lighting the Pilgrimage Candle for the diocese during the closing ceremony.

Her day-to-day work during the pilgrimage involved helping in setting up for lunch and dinner, which allowed for her to chat with those pilgrims who came in.

“A few people had recognised me. One of the nurses was like ‘oh we have a Rose of Tralee working with us’ which was quite fun. All of the pilgrims were very supportive and one of them even said I may be the most prayed for Rose. When we had a dance, I put on the sash for it and we had a good craic,” she says.

Aoife has been dreaming of wearing that sash ever since she was a child, and says she watched the Rose of Tralee every year with her sisters. Aoife is the youngest of her sisters, Charlotte, Ann Marie and Grace. Her parents Christy and Ann, have been “very supportive” of this dream and plan on attending the festival along with their Rose this coming August.

Aoife decided to go for the position and apply for the competition after she was approached by numerous people believing she would be a great Rose.  She describes herself as a homebird and although she lives in Dublin, being the Clare Rose of Tralee gives her plenty of opportunities to return home to Sixmilebridge in Co. Clare.

“It’s nice to go back home and attend charities and events that I otherwise might not have had the chance to,” she says. As the Clare Rose of Tralee, she has represented her title at numerous events like the Shannon Airport Runway Night Run to barbeque and bake sales for a church.

The Rose of Tralee International Festival is one of Ireland’s largest and longest running festivals, including entertainment, markets, fireworks, parades, and the selection of the Rose of Tralee. The event brings young women from all over the world who are of Irish decent to County Kerry for a celebration of Irish culture.


When she isn’t attending to her duties as the Clare Rose of Tralee, she can be found in the credit and debit card section at the Bank of Ireland. She loves travelling, fitness, Ed Sheeran and baking. “I love to bake for any occasion, especially if there are any birthdays in work,” she says.

She also volunteers at the Alzheimer’s Café in Dublin once a month saying “I love to help out there as you get to meet new people and you also get to learn about the effects of Alzheimer’s and Dementia”. Aoife’s manager has even given her the nickname of ‘Chief Do-gooder’.

Aoife graduated from the University of Limerick in 2015 after studying Economics and Sociology. She says faith has always been a part of her life growing up as she would attend Mass and continues to do so now. She also hopes to volunteer on the diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes again next year.

“It’s one of the best things you can do. It’s fantastic and it isn’t all just about the praying. There are so many people to meet and hear their stories,” she says.

In the meantime Aoife is looking forward to the Rose of Tralee competition in August and meeting all the other Roses, escorts and volunteers, and she is honoured and “delighted” to be representing her county.