Three years ago I was very lucky to have stumbled across the perfect house to rent on the West Waterford border close to a village called Clashmore. Not only the house and countryside are ideal for me and my pets but my landlord and his family are absolutely the best. I say that and I’m a landlord myself. Over the three years I feel they’ve adopted me into their lovely family and I’m always included in family occasions.
So I’m now very proud of their eldest daughter, Saoirse Fitzgerald, as she is the German Rose, on her way to Tralee. It’s a great achievement for her and there is major excitement and support around here for Saoirse and her family. There was a huge send off for her last Friday in the local pub, the Decies Bar, with local dignitaries, clubs and friends providing some great craic on the night and she received lots of presentations. German flags are flying throughout the village and banners are everywhere showing their support. And cards are flooding through their door wishing her luck.
With Saoirse’s busy schedule I was only able to grab some time with her a month ago to do this interview. Over a few glasses of Shiraz we had a great chat about her “Road to Tralee”.
Q. So Saoirse, when did you first know you wanted to be a Rose?
A. Well it really is as far back as I can remember and watching the Rose of Tralee with my Nanny who was from Kerry. Nanny always said that the festival was the ultimate experience and I could be one of those “princesses” on TV one day. And now I really am going to be a Princess for the night.
Q. What did you have to go through to get to the final?
A. I entered the regional finals in Germany and showed the host how to use a hurley. It was great as he really got involved although it was completely foreign to him. Winning that I then went through to the semi-finals in Port Laois and my party piece was the German custom of Bleigiessen which is melting a piece of lead on a spoon over a candle then pouring it into cold water to set. The resulting shape tells your future for the year ahead. The host was Daithi O Se in Port Laois and the shape was a love heart for him. Only a month later he got engaged. I wanted to do this because when I tried it myself in Germany last New Year it spookily gave me the picture of a rose on a stem.
Q. How long have you been in Germany?
A. I’ve been there two years working for Enterprise Ireland on an international graduate programme promoting and supporting Irish businesses abroad. Personally, I am responsible for the Media & Internet companies targeting the German speaking markets. The core of my job involves helping Irish production & animation companies sell their TV shows onto German TV stations. It’s been great but my two years are almost up now.
Q. What are your plans for after Germany?
A. I’d love a marketing job in media which I focussed my studying on with a Degree in Commerce and MBS in Marketing. After living abroad I’d be interested in working away again and exploring other countries in Europe. This year I was at the Cannes Film Festival selling Irish TV programmes to the foreign market and I absolutely loved it. I speak German fluently and have lots of contacts in German media already so that could come in handy.
Q. So tell me about your family.
A. Well they mostly all live in Clashmore although Mum’s family were the Murrays who used to have the Garden Centre in Cappoquin. Dad is JJ Fitzgerald and he’s probably most famously known hereabouts for JJ’s Chipper aka The Bridge Hotel by Youghal Bridge amongst other ventures. We’re all fierce Waterford GAA supporters and Dad even painted the chipper blue and white to show our support.
Q. I heard a famous designer designed your dress for the semi-finals in Port Laois?
A. Yes, I was so lucky that I got a Tyrell & Brennan dress stocked by Marion Cuddy in Powerscourt for that event. Marion was so lovely loaning me the dress and she was very generous with her time too. And for the final event my cousin, James Fitzgerald, who is the local electrical contractor in Clashmore and surrounding areas, has sponsored me so I was able to afford a lovely outfit from Germany. It seems fitting as I’m the German Rose after all.
Q. The lead up to the Rose involves a lot of engagements; do you know what is on the agenda?
A. I’m not sure yet but I believe we’ll have visits to The Dáil, Guinness Storehouse and our sponsors headquarters, Newbridge Silverware. I’m also looking forward to visiting RTE studios because of my media background. We are monitored the whole time and there is a strict curfew. I know the run up is going to be a really busy week with social engagements and visiting Irish landmarks and I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’m very privileged to be able to enjoy this experience so I’m going to make the most of it.
So Saoirse is now in the midst of the lead up festivities and it looks non-stop so far. She’s looking fabulous in the pictures I’m seeing and I can’t wait to see her on the TV show. Paddy Power has Saoirse in their top six so the odds are looking good.
And before I finish I must mention that Saoirse isn’t the only member of the family celebrating this week. Her younger brother, Ronan Fitzgerald, passed his Leaving Cert so even more good news for the family.
Good luck to Clashmore’s very own German Rose of Tralee, Saoirse Fitzgerald. I’m keeping the home fires burning for you.