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Aoife's Irish eyes are smiling


As the daughter of an Irish migrant, Aoife Wright remembers Friday nights at the Adelaide Irish Club where she would perform Irish dancing for “anyone who cared to watch”.

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She also remembers being teased at school for her “funny name” and the way she said ‘mammy’ instead of ‘mum’.

The highs and lows of her Irish heritage prompted 23-year-old Aoife to enter the local Rose of Tralee quest which is part of an international festival held in County Kerry, Ireland.

The former Sacred Heart College student was named South Australia’s 2017 ‘Rose’ in May and will travel to Ireland in August to participate in the Irish festival which is second only in size in Europe to the Eurovision song contest.

She is one of 65 girls chosen from across the globe to represent their regions in the 10-day international quest, which began in 1959 after a group of locals met in a local bar to dream up ways of encouraging expats back to their hometown.

The first part of the quest involves interviews and sightseeing followed by dance parties, street pageants and balls, culminating in the crowning of the 2017 international Rose of Tralee.

Aoife’s mother, Orla, is well-known in the Catholic community through her work as a pastoral associate at Glenelg parish. Aoife said the South Australian-Irish community had been an important part of her life for as long as she could recall.

“I remember getting up early to join in the St Patrick’s Day march through Adelaide City, only to later fall asleep under the tables during the celebrations,” she said.

“At a young age, I was unable to distinguish the community as anything other than family, which to me shows the measure of the Irish community here in South Australia.”

Aoife said it was an “incredible honour and a huge responsibility” to be a strong role model to young South Australian-Irish women.

She remembered being at the Irish Club one Friday night when the Rose entrants were being interviewed. They left quite an impression and from that point on she wanted to be just like them.

“They made me believe that all these little things I was being bullied for were actually really important,” she said.

“I realised these things made me unique and that I should be proud of them and embrace my heritage.”

Being a participant in the quest involved attending fundraising events organised by the SA Rose committee, personal fundraising events, participating in the St Patrick’s Day march, attending the annual pint pulling competition, a formal interview, radio interviews with Radio Eireann Adelaide and the grand selection night ball.

In the lead up to her trip to Ireland, Aoife is busy organising fundraising events to support her chosen South Australian charity, the Zarah foundation.

After her trip to Ireland, she will concentrate on increasing awareness of the quest here in South Australia and getting as many people involved as possible.

“It is such an amazing experience both for the entrants and those who get involved – I would love to expose as many people as possible to this fabulous event,” she said.

The quest is open to females aged 18-27 with Irish heritage who have lived in SA for a minimum of 12 months.


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