Aisling O’Donovan smelling the lavender in the Castle Garden. Pictures: Odhran Ducie
Tipperary Rose Aisling O’Donovan visited Nenagh last week. The Fethard native toured the town stopping at Nenagh Castle, the heritage centre, the Arts Centre, Millennium Point and, of course, the tourist office.
She said she was excited to be in Nenagh and praised the newly opened tourist office in Banba Square.
“Everyone in Nenagh has rowed in today to make me feel welcome, so I’m just so excited for the day ahead.
“I’m blown away with even the decoration; it’s so beautiful, and the local artwork is just so stunning. They have done such a lovely job. Even just coming here to this building is a lovely experience.
“So, I would definitely recommend coming to the Nenagh Tourist Office. It’s brilliant,” said Aisling.
Although from south Tipperary, Aisling is no stranger to the Nenagh area.
She says she has family in the area and spent time in Roscrea and Dromineer as a child. Aisling said she took the Lough Derg tour just last week with her fiancé Colm Barry.
“So, we got to see Lough Derg, and it was lovely to go back and see it as an adult and revisit some really positive memories.
I remember as kids jumping in the water and eating ice creams and getting too warm and everything like that, so it was lovely to go back,” said Aisling.
Aisling O’Donovan in the Tipperary Hurling Throne, Nenagh Tourist Office
Aisling and Colm got engaged last week in Italy. The couple has been together for almost eight years. Aisling said there was never a doubt about her answer.
“It was a very straight yes. We’ve been together for eight years, so although I was shocked, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised. So a very exciting summer you really couldn’t write it. “It’s been one positive experience after the next, and the engagement has been the icing on the cake. Yeah, a really special week for me,” said Aisling.
Ambassador for Tipperary
Part of being the Tipperary Rose is as an ambassador for the county.
Aisling says she is proud of Tipperary and all it has to offer.
“I think that it’s so important to advertise everything wonderful going on in Tipp. It’s such a long county, and there’s so much ground to cover, so having all these centres to promote it is really important.
“It is a really lovely place, and I’m so glad and proud of growing up in Tipp and to be a very proud ambassador of the county this year,” said Aisling.
Travelling around, Aisling says she has learned just how much has changed in Tipperary with improvements in technology, WIFI and remote hubs standing beside rich culture and heritage.
As Tipperary Rose, Aisling gets to meet an array of people from businesses, other Roses and local people.
“The human connection and meeting people is my favourite thing, and it brings me so much joy and pleasure, and the thing about being involved with the Tipperary Rose is all the lovely people I’ve met along the way,” said Aisling.
The Rose Tour
Next month, an international delegation of 16 Roses will tour the Premier County. Eight will be Irish and eight international.
This year Tipperary is paired with Philadelphia in the US.
Aisling will host with the support of Tipperary County Council, Tipperary Tourism and the International Rose of Tralee Festival.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting the roses in Tipp and to show them some local businesses and all the things we have to offer,” said Aisling.
As part of her work, Aisling herself will also get the opportunity to tour the country.
“I’m also looking forward to going to other counties, learning what goes on in other places, and having a similar experience to what the girls have here. We really have a special country here. I was away recently, and it was a lovely holiday, but you can’t beat at home,” said Aisling.
Aisling O’Donovan at Nenagh Castle
All of this, of course, is in the lead-up to the International Rose of Tralee Festival from August 19-23.
Aisling and all of the other Roses will travel to Kerry for the five-day event.
Aisling says she is excited to be part of the festival, having watched it with her family from childhood.
“It’s a massive festival, and it’s so renowned, and it’s incredible to be part of something so historic here in Ireland because I grew up with the Rose of Tralee with my family, and I remember buying the snacks and tucking down and watching it with the girls and thinking this was just a cool celebration of what Ireland is and what it means to be Irish.
“So I’m looking forward to being in the thick of that and celebrating our culture and heritage because that’s what it’s all about, and it’s going to be an absolute whirlwind, and I know I’m going to have an absolute ball,” said Aisling.
The Tipperary Star spoke to Aisling in March when she was first crowned the Tipperary Rose.
This week, Aisling reflected on her journey so far.
“Even just reflecting on the weeks that have gone by so far already, it’s been like March feels like forever ago, but it’s also flown. I’ve had a really busy couple of months, and I’ve just enjoyed being the Tipp Rose so much.
“I know the best is yet to come, but I’ve already had a ball, so I’m really grateful to be where I am today,” said Aisling.
It’s been an exciting few months for the school teacher from Fethard, but she says it’s incredibly rewarding.
“I’ve had such a fabulous year already, and the best is yet to come, so yeah, I’m so lucky and grateful to be in the position I’m in,” said Aisling.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.