*Clare Rose Aisling O’Connor pictured on stage at the Kerry Sports Academy, MTU with Kathryn Thomas during the Rose of Tralee International Festival TV Rose Selection night on Tuesday 22nd of August. Photograph: Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus LTD .

FEAKLE’S AISLING O’Connor was one of the stars of the Rose of Tralee after winning over the nation.

While New York Rose Róisín Wiley was crowned the 2023 International Rose of Tralee, Clare Rose Aisling O’Connor was certainly a winner even though she did not get awarded the silverware to back it up.

Clare’s Rose was sixth on stage on Tuesday night at the Rose of Tralee and Aisling certainly left a lasting impression on the public following her appearance which included a dance to Dermot Kennedy’s ‘Better Days’ and trying to showcase some of the talents of her brothers to potential female admirers.

Co-presenter Kathryn Thomas was moved to tears as Aisling spoke succinctly on the community support she and her five brothers have received since the deaths of their parents Pat (2018) and Denise (2021). While Kathryn was on stage, many viewers at home were left teary-eyed after Aisling opened up.

Speaking on stage at the Kerry Sports Academy on the Munster Technological University campus, Aisling admitted, “We’ve had a very tough couple of years… Our story started back in 2004.

“I’m the eldest of six and mam was pregnant with number six, Oisín, and she got her first breast cancer diagnosis and at that time, the diagnosis was really bad and she wasn’t given much chance. With so much determination and defiance, she completely beat the odds and was with us all through our childhood and saw us grow up. We lived a really normal happy lovely life right up until 2018 when our world just completely stopped and we lost our dad in a tragic, tragic accident and obviously we were reeling.

“Then, in 2020, our world stopped again and mam got her second diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer this time and fought the most incredible fight up until 2021 when she passed away with us all around her,” she added.

How the community of Feakle has rallied around the family since was acknowledged by Aisling who said that they have “never been alone”. She stated, “I think when you think of the Rose of Tralee and what that means, it’s about celebrating Irishness and what it means to be Irish and they epitomise and personify that every single day”.

She added, “From 2021, and I say this from the bottom of my heart, there’s been a dinner outside the gate every single day. There have been vouchers left. There’s been bags of shopping, electricity bills paid and always somebody on the end of a phone. We’re very much supported. We’re never alone and I know they love us as much as we love all of them”.

Aisling continued, “I think that’s what being Irish is. It’s no man left behind. It’s a community spirit. It’s truly remarkable and incredible. For myself and my five brothers, this experience really has given me a chance to acknowledge and thank them so deeply”.

Twenty five year old Aisling who had taught in Crumlin since graduating from Mary Immaculate College has returned home to East Clare in recent months. She is sure to be busy with offers from schools across Co Clare to act as a substitute teacher for the current academic year.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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