Mairead Conley was very pleased to have been crowned as the 2010 Philadelphia Rose of Tralee.
“I feel dumbfounded. You never expect to win,” said the self-described introvert and deputy director of community programming at the Irish Immigration Center of Philadelphia, following her local triumph Saturday night at the Philadelphia Irish Center. “I was completely blown away.”
But the night held one more surprise for Mairead. Saturday night marked the first Mid-Atlantic Rose of Tralee Final. With two other women in the running–Washington, D.C., Rose of Tralee Katherine Walsh and Teresa Marie Parks, Baltimore’s Rose–Mairead was the judges’ choice to become the first Mid-Atlantic Rose. She’ll travel to Tralee, County Kerry, to compete in the Rose of Tralee International Festival August 20 through 24.
It was a special night for yet another reason, Mairead acknowledged. “What a birthday present,” she said as she extricated herself from a throng of friends and relatives. “I was very content with being the Philadelphia Rose. I thought that was a great way to end the evening. Earlier in the night, someone asked me whether I had summer plans. I said, ‘I don’t know… Maybe I’ll go to Sea Isle.’ Now, I’m going to Tralee.”
2009 Philadelphia Rose of Tralee Jocelyn McGillian acknowledged a “huge mix of emotion” as her year came to a close. But she was thrilled for friend Mairead. “Now,” she said, “she gets to feel all the things I felt last year.”
We have many, many photos from Mairead’s big night. (And of course, it was a big night for all of the other bright, talented young women.) Click on the photo at upper right to view the slide show.