THE International Rose of Tralee Tour arrived in Derry yesterday, coinciding with Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann which is taking place in the city.
The 32 Roses were welcomed by the North’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, after taking part in an open-top bus tour around the city.
Mr McGuinness said that the people of Derry are indebted to the organisers of the International Festival for bringing this year's Roses to the UK City of Culture. (Martin McGuinness Audio)
This year’s Roses tour of Ireland saw two of the nation’s most famous festivals come together in Derry, ahead of the 2013 Rose of Tralee International Festival (August 14-20).
Three British women are hoping to be crowned this year’s Rose of Tralee - Lisa O’Halloran (Liverpool), Marie McDermott (Manchester) and Grace Kenny (London).
Recent Politics and International Relations graduate Grace Kenny, 21, from Crawley in South London, told The Irish Post: “The Rose of Tralee is a celebration of young Irish women from across the world, promoting Irish cultures and values.”
While Lisa O’Halloran, 24 - who has been living in Liverpool for seven years - said the Roses had received an “absolutely fantastic tour of Derry,” and got a “brilliant feel for the history". She added: "The people were so welcoming.”
Speaking of her experience so far, Manchester Rose Marie McDermott, 25, who is training to be a teacher said: “I’ve been able to see new parts of Ireland, and meeting all of the girls including new girls from Australia has been a highlight.”
She added: “ The Rose of Tralee brings families and communities together.”
Having explored the history of Derry yesterday morning and many of the Fleadh events, the Roses enjoyed an evening of traditional music and dancing at the City Hotel.
Wednesday's visit forms part of a four-day tour, which takes the Roses to Dublin, Belfast, Derry, Kildare, Sligo, Galway and Limerick, before finally returning to Kerry.
They will stay in Kerry for the duration of the International Rose of Tralee Festival - the finals will take place early next week.
The Roses continue their Tour of Ireland today with a visit to Sligo for lunch before the Roses and Escorts meet for the first time tonight at the Salthill Hotel in Galway.