A Bere Island Rose

As a new Rose of Tralee is crowned (Roisin Wiley of New York) we look back to 2013 when Bere Island celebrated the announcement  of Texas Rose, Haley O’Sullivan as that year’s Rose of Tralee, and her name will go down in the history books as Bere Island’s first ever Rose of Tralee.

Hayley O’Sullivan

Haley’s grandfather Joseph J O’Sullivan was born on Bere Island, one of a family of 11.  In 1948 Joseph emigrated to Boston, later moving to San Francisco, he passed away in the 1980s.  Haley’s parents Joe and Lindsey settled in Arizona, where Haley and her siblings were born and raised.   Haley attended the University of Arizona, graduating in 2010. She later relocated to Dallas, Texas and would go on to become the Texas Rose.

When Haley was announced the winner the 2013 Rose of Tralee Festival,  her great-uncle Mick J O’Sullivan, the last of his generation who still lived in the family home on Bere Island became an  overnight celebrity, making the front pages of the Irish daily papers, as well as his first appearance on Facebook and Twitter! Sadly Mick J passed away in 2014.

Island homecoming

During her year’s reign as Rose of Tralee,  Haley along with her parents visited Bere Island.   A special function was held in the island’s Hotel for her that evening, with her great-uncle Mick proudly escorting her into the venue.   Islanders presented Haley with a framed photograph of the O’Sullivan family ancestral home on Bere Island, and a bouquet of flowers.  Haley also visited the Bere Island Heritage Centre and the local school where she planted two rose bushes in the school grounds.

De Valera links

Bere Island has long held its own in world history, as a strategic naval base during World War One, and over the years hosting visits from many historic figures, including the Duke of Wellington,  Eamonn De Valera, and former Irish President Mary McAleese.  In fact it was an ancestor of Haley’s, Maggie O’Sullivan, who worked for the White Star Line and was a cabin attendant for the family of Eamonn De Valera on his return to Ireland as a young child.

Adding to its long list of accomplishment, Bere Island is now the only Irish island to have its very own Rose of Tralee.

Hayley O'Sullivan speaking at a function at the Bere Island Hotel.
Helen Riddell
Hayley O'Sullivan planting a rose at the Bere Island Heritage Centre.
Helen Riddell

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