People in focus: Niamh McElduff embraces exciting times ahead as ‘Tyrone Rose’

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The Annual International Rose of Tralee Festival is one of those amazing Irish events which resonates the world over and once again we find ourselves right there in the build-up to another very exciting occasion.

Each year a ‘Tyrone Rose’ is selected to represent the county at the Festival, albeit it is only in the past couple of years that every Rose is guaranteed to actually reach the Festival itself and go live on stage at the Dome in Tralee.

We have featured our excellent Tyrone Roses over the past few years here at Tyrone Life and you can check out each on the relevant links below.

Carrickmore’s Niamh McElduff has been crowned the Tyrone Rose for 2017

In May 2017 though a new name added to the illustrious list as Carrickmore’s Niamh McElduff took over the crown from outgoing Rose, Killeeshil’s Genevieve Scullion. In our usual way we thus bring the latest in our People in Focus series as we hear from Niamh on community life, interests, fun and favourites and so much more in there too.

We would also like to point out at this stage that since we launched our People in Focus series just over three years ago, with another Rose, Michelle Kelly from Killeeshil (Scotland Rose) being our very first profilee, we have had over 1 million readers on our People in Focus Profiles series. So thanks to all for that!

Sponsor: The Charm Inn, Carrickmore

So here you go with our latest feature and of course we wish Niamh all the very best in her preparations, travels and above all in the event itself this coming August…

Q&A, People in Focus profile
with Tyrone Rose 2017,
Niamh McElduff

My thoughts on…

Tyrone Rose Event: You have been selected as the Tyrone Rose for 2017. Can you tell us about the “Tyrone Rose” event and your experiences of the Selection Night in Cork House Hotel?

The Tyrone Rose experience has been amazing so far. In terms of confidence building and friendships it has been invaluable. Prior to the selection day we had a ‘bonding day’ in Todds Leap in Ballygawley. Todds Leap is an amazing facility and it never fails to impress anytime I’m there. For someone who is supposed to be afraid of heights, I was throwing myself off all sorts of high objects. I did a fair bit of complaining but I think all nerves were justified considering Niall Mulrine had threatened to throw me off the ZipLine a few days previous.

We then went on to the Corick house and had a lovely lunch, took a few photographs and went to the Spa in Corick. I hadn’t personally been to Corick house previous to this and we were all so appreciative of how well they treated us and with the running of the entire selection day event. It really is a beautiful place and so close to home as well. The selection day itself involved a series of interviews before we took to the stage that night where we would be interviewed again and some would perform on top of this.

I sang “the Bright Blue Rose”, one of my favourite songs by Mary Black – which, upon reflective, would have been even more effective had I been wearing a bright blue dress!

Niamh san “Bright Blue Rose” by Mary Black at the Tyrone Rose of Tralee Selection Evening in Corick House

Judges Shirley Rocks, Aoife McCann and Conor Daly were extremely lovely, down to earth people who made us all feel totally comfortable to be ourselves and enjoy the day as much as possible. The event was compered by Billy Dixon who put us all at ease and it was great to have so many of family and close friends there for support. It was extra special to have the chairman executive of the Rose of Tralee festival, Anthony O’Gara and his wife Oonagh, in attendance also.

All eight girls represented themselves, their families and their clubs extremely well and did themselves proud. The Tyrone Rose announcement itself is all a bit of a blurr and there were plenty of tears.

The support from the rest of the Tyrone Rose 2017 girls, friends, family, local businesses, people in Carrickmore and wider Tyrone has been overwhelming and I’m enjoying the planning that is already underway for what will be an adventure of a lifetime in Tralee. It will definitely be a summer to remember.

At the Rose of Tralee evening in Corick House. Photo by Jolene Barr photography.

Rose of Tralee Festival: the Rose of Tralee Festival is coming up now in August. Can you tell us about the event, what your plans are now in the build-up to this?

The International Rose of Tralee festival is a truly amazing thing. This is the 58th year of the festival which makes it one of Ireland’s largest and longest running festivals. It has always been held in high esteem in our household in terms of television entertainment and people in Tyrone definitely have a lot of respect for the competition. In terms of the celebration and promotion of Irish women and Irish Culture, nothing does it better. It brings young women, of Irish descent, from all over the globe together in County Kerry for an international celebration of our Irish Heritage.

I still remember the first time I ever watched the competition, when I was still very young in Primary school, on a family holiday in County Clare. It’s fair to say I spent the weekend glued to the television and I’ve followed it every year since. In previous years, only half of the Roses have been able to go to Tralee but last year and this year all Roses will stay down in Tralee for the duration of the festival. I’m looking forward to meeting my escorts, my little rosebud, taking part in the Rose Parade, attending the Rose ball and experiencing the buzz in the Dome, whether I make it to that stage or not myself.

Embracing outgoing Tyrone rose, Genevieve Scullion, following the announcement on the Tyrone Rose of Tralee evening that Niamh would be Tyrone Rose for 2017

The support so far has been overwhelming. People have shown a really keen interest in the whole thing and friends old and new have extended well-wishes and support. I have been invited to various regional selection nights and I look forward to meeting all the other Roses, many of whom I have already been in contact with. I look forward to meeting the newly crowned Fermanagh Rose at her selection event this Sunday, along with the Sligo Rose who will be in attendance. I will also be choosing a charity that I will raise funds for throughout my year as Tyrone Rose.

I look forward to all engagements with local businesses over the next few months in the build up to Tralee, including many who have been so kind already to offer their support in the form of sponsoring different items of clothing. I look forward to attending many local events and celebrations and offering my support to them as well.

One of Niamh’s first engagements as Tyrone Rose was at a Coffee Morning for Charity, Aware, in the Patrician, Carrickmore

On the 20th of June I will be flying out to San Francisco to play Gaelic Football with the Fog City Harps club and I will return at the end of July to give myself enough time to get organised ahead of Tralee. I’ve been in touch with the San Francisco Rose, Amanda Donohoe and I look forward to meeting her out there. A Rose sister and a personal tour guide all in one! I’m looking forward to visiting Yosemite, Lake Tahoe and the 4th of July celebrations out there.

The festival will run from the 15th August to the 23rd of August. We will spend two nights in Dublin before this and then on to Tralee.

Tyrone Life – My thoughts on…

Where you came from: Tell us a bit about where you grew up? Some fun and memorable Childhood recollections?

I was born in Dungannon and grew up in Carrickmore. My Mum is from Dungannon and Dad is from Carrickmore so I have a bit of East and West in me; a county-wide perspective on things you could say. I have a younger sister, Bláthnaid, who is 18 and a brother, Patrick who is 17. Bláthnaid has a keen interest in music and has been jumping on airplanes to go to concerts everywhere since the age of 16. Patrick is a talented corner-forward for Carrickmore and the Tyrone minor team.

Childhood memories include many days spent at Án Créagan, visiting our Granny Annie and Granda Vincent in Dungannon, being spoiled living so close to our Granny and Granda McElduff in Carrickmore, going to every féis and fleadh competition going with my Mum, singing “purple and Gold” with my Dad in the car (a song about the Wexford Hurling team), sleepovers with my cousins Kelly, Rosemary and Orla in Clonmore (on the rare occasion that I was allowed), entire days spent in our totally unsafe treehouse with Niamh Herron, countless birthday parties in Aladdin’s kingdom, performing “concerts” with Bláthnaid and Patrick for mum and Dad, competitive games of rounders on a Saturday morning with the whole malabhui meadows gang and many, many more.

Sponsor: Ecohog Windshifters, Carrickmore

School Life & early days: Tell us about your memories from School Days, social aspects and could you name three defining things that stand out for you in this period – ie. music, soil life, sport, etc…?

I attended Gaelscoil Uí Néill in Coalisland as a child. Being educated through the Irish language was so special and I am always grateful that my brother, sister and I had the opportunity to experience this. I have so many special memories from the Gaelscoil days, including making our confirmation in the Cathedral in Armagh, along with other Gaelscoils. I have fond memories of all of the school plays we did and the preparation that went into them. Before I began singing at all school events and while all the other primary 2 girls took up their role as angels, I took great pride in my role as……. DJ in the school nativity play. Who knew that when Jesus was born, the three wise men held a disco for Mary and Joseph, DJ included. I recall playing football with the boys at break and lunch with Áine Donnelly from Dungannon every day. You were always glad to have Séan Caio or Ché O’Donnell on your team.

I attended St. Patrick’s academy in Dungannon where there was a laugh a minute with Róisin Clarke from Galbally. There was very few classes we weren’t separated from each other by the teachers and everything seemed to be 10 times funnier when you weren’t allowed to laugh. There was always great craic on the bus to and from school with Dearbhla Kilpatrick and Seainin Corrigan from Pomeroy and Katherine Mullin from Kildress. I had many amazing teachers such as Mary Coyle in the Irish department, Kate Strain (Art teacher), Kate Devlin (History teacher), to name but a few. I completed my A-levels in the Loreto Grammar school in Omagh and our 7th year holiday in Santa Ponsa was one to remember!

Characters in the Community: Tell us about some of the big characters in your community/village when you were growing up and any memories, stories or ‘nicknames’ that jump out when talking about them?

Conor “the Block” Gormley…

The man who earned himself a place in the history books after he put his whole body on the line to take the Sam Maguire home to Tyrone against Armagh in 2003.

Carmen have always been very proud to claim him as one of their own.

 

Eilish Gormley…

It’s fair to say that I wanted to be Eilish Gormley as a young girl. An amazing footballer for Carrickmore and Tyrone in her own right, she was a constant source of advice and inspiration to myself and other young girls on and off the field, having been our football manager for many years.

“Eilish Gormley, an amazing footballer for Carrickmore and Tyrone in her own right” celebrates Ulster Senior Club Championship glory with her club, Carrickmore

Orla Cunningham…

Orla was always the life and soul of our senior team, always up for a laugh and never taking life two seriously. She has been prone to making the odd sneaky television appearance. I remember tuning into TG4 randomly one day and seeing her on an Irish language dating programme. I couldn’t believe my eyes. More recently, we were shocked to see her making an appearance on Graham Norton’s Red chair on BBC1.

It’s fair to say the WhatsApp groups were going mad. She has earned herself a mini celebrity status since then with pages all over Ireland, including “her.ie” sharing her story on facebook.

LOL – Carrickmore’s Orlaith Cunningham takes to Graham Norton’s Red Chair…

 

Barry McElduff, MLA: Your father, Barry, is an extremely popular individual in the County and is currently an MLA. Tell us about how you have followed him in his political career and best memories and stories in this sphere:

Our Dad has always been an extremely good Dad to us. His political career reflects the great skill he has in knowing when to take things totally seriously and when to take life a little less seriously. He is the most determined, selfless and hard-working person that I know and I am immensely proud of the work that he and his colleagues do for Ireland and its people every day.

I have many great childhood memories of places we’ve been and things we’ve seen and countless times I pretended to be fast asleep just to get him to carry me to bed read a story such as “Óisin & Niamh in Tír na nÓg”, which appealed to me for obvious reasons, or “the Children of Lír”.

Pictured with Dad, Barry McElduff

He would describe himself as a “1998 original” having been at the heart of all the action since the signing of the Good Friday agreement. I have fond memories of attending many marches and commemorations with him my whole life.

The most recent assembly election in West Tyrone provided a very memorable day at the count in the Leisure centre. A massively historic day for Nationalism and equality for all which we hope will come through again on the 8th of June, when Dad hopes to be elected as the MP for West Tyrone.

Pictured as a child with political legend, Martin McGuinness

Social Life – My thoughts on…

Tell us about what things you enjoy best about the ‘weekend’ and favourite things to do?

I love to get home from Belfast on a Thursday or Friday evening and drink that first cup of Tea at home. The tea in the big smoke doesn’t compare to a cup of tea in Carrickmore. It’s just not the same thing. I enjoy filling my family in on what I’ve done during the week and to hear about what they’ve been up to while I’ve been away.

Tell us about 3 big moments that stand out for you in Sport…

• Winning the All-Ireland final with St. Mary’s University (The Ranch.)

• Winning the under 16 minor championship as a Tyrone Minor lady.

• Winning an under 16 county title with some of my best friends and neighbours with Carrickmore.

If you were to throw a major party to celebrate your life, in addition to all your friends and family, could you name 5 people you know who you would have there (why?) and 5 people you don’t know who you would love to have there (why?):

I would have my good friends Catherine McGirr and Aoife Taggart who are in Australia at the minute. They’ve been there since February and I miss them a lot!
There is no party like a party with them and Tess and there has been a lot less prosecco drank since February. Seamas Mcgeough from Mayobridge would be there as we are long overdue a night out since he entered the working world as a Múinteoir. Aoife Monaghan would have to be there along with all the other 3B St. Marys girls & Irish lecturers – Sean Mac Corraidh or Cathal McKeown entertaining us on the guitar. Of course, no party is complete without Roisin Clarke’s version of the brush dance, usually accompanied by her Dad Philip on the accordion.

Could you tell us what places you have travelled to (anywhere in the world) – and best memories & places that rally stood out?

Kraków – the most spontaneous decision ever with my housemates in Belfast that turned out to be an amazing holiday. The most beautiful city I have been to.

Barcelona – A brilliant time spent with 35 other Ranchers a month ago. Legs are still recovering from cycling up to Parc Guell.

Lourdes – A really special experience that will stay with me for a lifetime.

Santa Ponsa – a crazy week to celebrate the end of school life. Paid the consequences of lying out at a waterpark for a full day, minus sun-protection, with Emma smyth from Dromore.

Hope to make many amazing memories in San Francisco this Summer!

Click Here to Read our other People in Focus Features on Tyrone Life

For fun…

3 Funniest people you know/have met:

Róisin Clarke, Galbally. Performs the finest version of the brush dance in Ireland.

Shane Horisk – Strathroy.

Aidan McBride – Seskinore.

 

(Aidy entertaining us all in the staff store in Sallys. What looks like a microphone is, in fact, an umbrella.)

One Word Answer: Use one word for each of the above you think best describes these 3 people:

Hilarious, smart, header.

Tell us your favourite Joke?

“What type of biscuits can fly? The wee plane ones.” – If I had a pound for every time I heard Gráinne Kelly tell that joke.

 

Sponsor: Carmen Building Supplies

My life & favourites…

Sports: GAA

Sportstars: Katie Taylor, Sean Cavanagh, Gemma Begley

Gemma Begley in action for Tyrone ladies

Item of clothing: Shoes.

Fashion or Lifestyle Website/Blog/Facebook Page: ASOS

Singers: Cara Dillon, Mary Black, Christy Moore.

 

Band/Singer: Christy Moore.

Song: Raglan Road.

Celebrities: Saoirse Ronan.

TV Show: Anything political.

Movie: Dirty Dancing.

Food: Everything.

Shops: Zara

Pub: Gerrys, Carrickmore. Rose & Crown, Belfast.

Nightclub: Sallys of Omagh

Sports or Concert Venue: Páirc an Chrocaigh (ar ndóigh!)

Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter? Why? Snapchat – you can pull a ridiculous face and know that it will be gone forever. Much trust lost over screenshots.

Words you would like people to remember you by?

Passionate, honest, genuine, courageous, generous, caring, determined.

Inspirational Quote you like?

“It always seems impossible until its done.” – Nelson Mandela.

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