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CROWN IS PASSED

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IMELDA

Imelda (Kelly) Lunceford.
1984

Our first Southern California Rose of Tralee

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Kelly Learman Brown
1987

Southern California Rose of Tralee

Rose Reflections anm
NEW & PAST ROSES

Former Rose’s at the ball.

Southern California ROSE REFLECTIONS....

As part of Southern California's Rose Program, many of the former Roses along with our current Rose                 compiled reflections and memories of their year as the Rose and the effects the Rose Program has had on their lives in the years since…and then these Reflections Pages will be update…Rose by Rose…


 
EMELDA KELLY LUNCEFORD  1984  
 
I made many wonderful lifelong friends throughout my reign and I will always hold the memories of my experience close to my heart.    I would encourage all the young girls to participate, for truly it is an opportunity of a life time.”

My name is Imelda (Kelly) Lunceford.   My first exposure to the Rose of Tralee pageant was when I witnessed the crowing of the San Francisco Rose of Tralee as a child, while attending an Irish dance competition.    From then on I dreamed of becoming a rose when I grew up.   Luckily for me, the Irish Fair Foundation was selected by the Festival of Kerry Committee to run the first Southern California Rose pageant in 1984.   
The pageant interviews were held at the Columban Fathers on May 20, 1984, and I was honored to be one of the contestants.    On June 16th, in front of all the attendants of the Irish Fair at the Rose Bowl, the winner was to be announced.   I remember standing on the stage holding my breath hoping I would hear my name.   When at last the time came and my name was announced I was overwhelmed with joy.   I was so thankful to all to my family and friends who supported me in attaining this dream.   I reigned over the fair that year, and was treated like a princess.   Escorted by a pair of Celtic warriors, I marched in parades, feasted with Queen Maeve at her encampment, and met many wonderful people.   In August I was on my way to Ireland to represent Southern California in the International Rose of Tralee Pageant.   I will always remember how excited I was to step into the car that had my name on it, and how wonderful I was treated.  As we drove through the different towns, people would come running out of houses and stores to wave at us as we went by.  It made me feel like a real princess.  I had the opportunity to participate in many wonderful events including; touring Kerry Dublin and Cork, attending famous horse races, riding in floats in the nightly parades, and being introduced to the Lord Mayor of Dublin City and had a whirlwind tour of Dublin.   My fondest memory will always be talking to the children and signing their autograph books.   I will never forget their lovely faces
and seeing new dreams being formed.     
I really enjoyed the experience as a whole and am thankful that I was able to be the first person to represent Southern California at the International Rose of Tralee Pageant.  I made many wonderful lifelong friends throughout my reign and I will always hold the memories of my experience close to my heart.    I would encourage all the young girls to participate, for truly it is an opportunity of a life time.

 

KELLY LEARMAN BROWN 1987

“Being a Rose gave me the opportunity to see the human
spirit at its best and understand why the Irish have a special
knack of looking at life with a genuine sparkle in their eyes”.

First, I must thank my mother, Peggy Learman, because she is the real reason I am here. It is my mother who so adored her Irish mother, Margaret Kerrigan, and our long mystical Irish history. It was effortless then for me to participate in the Southern California Rose of Tralee, because it was an extension of my “family.” Chosen as the 1987 Rose, I suddenly became an ambassador for all of us here  in America as I went“home” to Ireland.
It was truly a moment that changed my life forever… Being the 1987 Rose, began a journey that is still continuing. It has given me confidence, hope, love, pride and utter joy. Stepping off the plane, I was an instant celebrity. My cheeks hurt from smiling. I quickly learned that where ever I went it was so important to acknowledge all the people that had come to watch and see the Roses from all over the world – we were surrounded. And I must be honest…I loved waving to the cheering crowd in city after city and adored the children begging for an autograph. Being a Rose gave me the opportunity to see the human spirit at its best and understand why the Irish have a special knack of looking at life with a genuine sparkle in their eyes. And it’s not because I kissed the Blarney stone - it changed me.
Returning to Los Angeles, Terry Anderson and Phylis Mulvey, continued giving me the opportunity to shine. So moved was I by my experience I wrote about it; it was the first major magazine article I published. I used that inspired article to sell a book outline; that book was just released by Barnes & Noble. In June, I will be speaking at the Protocol School of Washington. Because of my experience, my sister became the Washington, D.C. Rose and ran the Rose Center there for several years. And, it all stems back to the Southern California Rose of Tralee. Mom, and yes, Terry, I am forever grateful
.

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COLLEEN CUTLER SINDLE,
1989

Southern California Rose of Tralee

COLLEEN CUTLER SINDLE, 1989
I am thankful to have been given this great opportunity
and do hope that others canf orge long lasting friendships as I have.”

I have been blessed with good friends in my life. Some of whom I met through the Irish Fair Foundation's Rose of Tralee network. I met Jean during my first year. We knew right away that we would be friends for a very long time. We had so much in common, not just with each other, but with our families, our values and traditions.
While in Ireland , I was fortunate to have roomed with Orla, Rose from Perth. I had no family with me at the time, and her family was kind enough to "adopt" me. I was invited to go everywhere with them, aside from the usual Rose appearances at the various events. Another lasting friendship is with Kathleen, the Boston Rose. What a wonderful person she is. The three of us (Orla, Kathleen and I) had many fun times together. Times that will never be forgotten. Although there are quite a few miles between us, we still keep in touch. We could pick up the phone or email each other after weeks have gone by, and pick up with each others lives as if time stood still. I am thankful to have been given this great opportunity and do hope that others canf orge long lasting friendships as I have.

 

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SHANDON EALES HARBOUR, 
1990

Southern California Rose of Tralee

KARI ANN PATTERSON

KARI ANN PATTERSON
1992

Southern California Rose of Tralee

EILEEN HUNT

EILEEN HUNT McKEAGNEY 1993
Southern California Rose of Tralee

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KATHERINE GEARY FITZPATRICK 1994
Southern California Rose of Tralee

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THERESE SULLIVAN GRANT 1995
Southern California Rose of Tralee

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KERRY O”CONNELL BEAUCHEMIN,  1999
Southern California Rose of Tralee

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ERIN McCREARY HART, 2000
Southern California Rose of Tralee

SHANDON EALES HARBOUR,  1990
What was an experience, I would not forget
There has been no other like it yet!”

The year was 1990 and I was in school at USC I read an ad in the newspaper for the Rose of Tralee Asking girls to participate that were of Irish decent So off to the Rose Orientation I wentWho would’ve known it would be meTo represent Southern California in Tralee What was an experience that I would not forgetThere has been no other like it yet! Being in Ireland taught me what it was to be an ambassador However, the experience went well beyond that year and more. Upon returning, I finished my degree Moved to San Francisco and worked in hi-tech PR, (.com and IT) Several hard years in PR lead me to pursue a life to teach Bringing me back to San Diego and home near the beach I met my husband learning to scuba dive With three boys we are now a family of five. My career as of late is running the family enterprise To work in a 24/7 security business was quite a surprise Working my way up the ladder to the top Makes for a busy life ~ its always nonstop! 
Throughout my life the Rose days stay with me. As I use the knowledge I learned for business acumen constantly. And every once in a while when I’m in an Irish bar I’ll tell the band or bartender that I was an Irish *star* It opens doors ~ if even for just one free drink or a serenaded song 18 years….has it been that long? A big thank you and Irish Prayer to those who support the Southern California Rose program. It
was a monumental milestone in my life and has had a major influence on who I am.

KARI ANN PATTERNSON GERLACH,  1992
it was like comparing it to Academy Awards,
Mardi Gras, Kentucky Derby, and E! Entertainment....
rolled up into one amazing whirlwind.”

The Rose is an altering experience. Past Roses have expressed it as being initiated into a Secret Sorority, where past Roses can only try to described the adventure you are about to partake in. For me, it was like comparing it to Academy Awards, Mardi Gras, Kentucky Derby, and E! Entertainment.... rolled up into one amazing whirlwind. The genuine enthusiasm you feel from the people will warm you for years. As they say, once a Rose, always a Rose? It’s a bit of bizarre celebrity fascination. It doesn’t matter whether you are in Ireland or your local pub, this “celebrity” has stayed with me for 16 years and counting. Throughout the years, I have been offered jobs, invited to join committees and attend special events all because I was a Rose. I have met amazing
people and formed lasting friendships through the Irish Community. I cherish my 16 years with my adopted Irish
Family, the Irish Fair Foundation and their supporters and look forward to seeing them each spring and summer. Thank you for being part of my past and my future.

 

EILEEN HUNT MCKEAGNEY,  1993
I’m in love with the notion that Beauty is defined by
“the truth in her eye ever dawning.”

Fifteen years later, I am still enamored with the Rose of Tralee. I’m in love with the notion that Beauty is defined by “the truth in her eye ever dawning.” It was that very definition of Beauty that prompted me to fill out that first Rose application. I was in my early-twenties, and in the midst of my search for
passion and identity, which were inexplicably intertwined at the time. And it was then, in the midst of my search, that someone saw the pilgrim soul in me. Terry opened the folded paper in his hand and read my name and I was Rose. Was I beautiful then? No. No, I wasn’t beautiful the night I became Rose. Not really. Nor was I beautiful waving from parade floats or signing autographs in the park inTralee. Nor on the TV night when Gay Byrne placed me 32nd of 32 Roses, because he thought my party piece a fitting tribute to all the Roses. No, not then. I wasn’t beautiful until the night when I gave up my crown and handed it to the next girl, Katherine Geary. Because in handing it over, I was continuing the love affair, offering the mythology to the next class of Roses, believing firmly that Beauty is not physical, but lies in the truth in her grace, and in her eyes ever dawning. The Rose of Tralee doesn’t select the most beautiful young woman; the Rose of Tralee creates the most beautiful young woman. Now, I am a long standing member of the Sisterhood of Roses. Some of us are not as skinny or shiny as we once were, a little more gray, a few more wrinkles. But to my sisters, this beautiful bouquet of Roses, these women whose eyes light with grace and
truth and Beauty, to you I say this: Time’s bitter flood will rise...your beauty perish and be lost.... for all eyes but these eyes.

KATHERINE GEARY FITZPATRICK,  1994
“we came to believe in ourselves
and being Irish like never before.”

It’s identity-shaping! We were raised on parades and fairs, music and dance, rashers and puddings, hurling and football - but we never really knew what it meant to be Irish. Then we became a Rose. Strutting our poise, presence and personality, we took new meaning from being Irish, and even greater meaning from being women. We were the same as so many Roses - intelligent, successful, embodying beauty from the inside out – and yet completely unique in ourselves. And we came to believe in ourselves and being Irish like never before. We went on to complete an inner circle, those who have experienced Tralee, hungry to tell our tales. But the outer circle – family and friends, commentators and critics – were never going to hear us. They could never comprehend the magnitude of the thing called Festival; the women called Rose. And yet it’s really quite simple. We are Roses – a prestigious circle of Irish women who know exactly who we are, what we’ve done, and what we’re capable of doing. And so we still laugh and cry, drink and sing, live as if there is no tomorrow, and know that because of Tralee and who we became out there, our lives have never been the same. We went out there as Irish women, but we came back knowing exactly what that meant, and who we are in light of it.
 

THERESE SULLIVAN GRANT,  1995
The Rose of Tralee opened so many doors for me.”

New friendships and fabulous opportunities. The Rose of Tralee opened so many doors for me. Having participated in the Rose of Tralee for two years, I was able to meet stellar men and women. A few Roses became  future  roommates and  life-long  friends. Our  children are now friends and international playmates.
The Southern California center is especially fortunate to work with  the  American  Ireland  Fund  charity  events.  I  felt  so privileged to meet Bob and Dolores Hope, Liam Neeson, Dana Delaney,  Kenneth  Brannagh  and  Gregory  Peck.  It  was  an honor  to  shake  their  hands,  and  an  honor  I would  not  have had without the Rose of Tralee. A shared Irish heritage and a love  for  Ireland  can  bring  people  together  that  are  otherwise worlds apart.  A  special  thank  you  to Terry Anderson  for his  support of  the Southern California Rose of Tralee Center.

KERRY O”CONNELL BEAUCHEMIN,  1999
My quest for adventure, my desire to meet new people,
explore new cultures and discover a bit about myself & my Irish ancestry
 was brought to life before me on my journey as the Rose of Tralee”

As a little girl I grew up with an avid imagination & an uncanny ability to get lost in my dreams. Often times I would imagine far away places and distant lands where leprechauns danced little jigs at the end of beautiful rainbows, where fairy princesses made friends with wizards and where I could pass away the day beneath the hot sun listening to the sounds of a babbling brook and contemplating when my next great adventure would begin. Little did I know that years later my fantasy world would collide with reality. My quest for adventure, my desire to meet new people, explore new cultures and discover a bit about myself & my Irish ancestry was brought to life before me on my journey as the Rose of Tralee. 1999 was a year unlike all others, it is a year that I look back upon and smile and feel so blessed that someone thought I lucky and fair enough to be the Rose of Tralee. I have fond memories of the friends that I made, the people that I met and the wonderful moments that are forever burned in my memory of my time in Ireland. Who could ask beautiful scenery, the most humble of people and the richest of cultures? Being the Rose of Tralee shaped and molded me into the person I have become today. I look back now upon my year as the Rose and I say “thank you” to each person who walked with me on my journey and to the roses of the fture, May you always remember to dream & imagine…you never know where it might take you. 

ERIN McCREARY HART, 2000
“The unifying feature of my experience was
the emphasis the Roses placed on one another.”

For a Rose, traveling the final stretch of road into Tralee brings a mixture of excitement and sadness. While you are entering the pinnacle of your experience as Roses, this journey also signals that you are nearing the end of your time together in Ireland . In 2000, as we made the trip into County Kerry, our Perth Rose Louise Lowry was struggling to write a poem to recite as her Television party piece. Upon learning this, we began working as a group by contributing one line at a time until it was finished.

The unifying feature of my experience was the emphasis the Roses placed on one another. There are countless moments I will never forget. Moments that in retrospect feel as if they were shared with women I have known my whole life. Over the past eight years- the Roses from 2000 remain very close. Together, we’ve endured some of life’s toughest challenges. We have seen each other through serious illness, losing parents and tragically even one of our own Roses in late 2001. We have celebrated our first homes, our marriages and the births of our children. In all this time, it has never escaped me that the sense of sorority we have can’t be explained.  It can only be experienced.

To those who would call this sentiment cliché, I will simply submit that a friendship between Roses is comprised of far more than sentiment, and the situational euphoria experienced in Ireland. Our friendships are woven from the integrity, character and Joie de vivre of our beloved Irish culture. What is more, each of us is proud to have been part of an institution that celebrates a young woman’s intellect, poise, experience, education and potential- all the features I believe make a person worthy of the name “role model”. In 2000, my class of Roses included a family law barrister, a pediatric special needs therapist, a nurse, and a human rights advocate to the United Nations. Regardless of post, title, education or status, each of these women has contributed tirelessly to their communities and to one another- and I am proud to be counted among them.
 
In the years since I wore the sash and crown, there has scarcely been a single element of my
life that has not been touched by the friendships I have gained, the lessons I learned or the
confidence I found through being a Rose. In every element of my life I draw upon the
courage, wisdom, advice and careful grace I have witnessed in each of those 27 women. Each
of them has helped me to cultivate a better version of myself, and for this reason, being a
Rose has truly shaped my life. At the end of our journey in Ireland, it was truly appropriate
that our Perth Rose Louise Lowry would serve as the final Rose to appear on television in
2000. After all, her party piece had become more than a poem. Instead, it was a message from
all of us. “…this is not the end. We’ve only begun. In our hearts, together- we’ve already won”