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Westmeath’s Rachel Duffy is the Rose of Tralee 2022

The Westmeath Rose, Rachel Duffy, has been crowned the 2022 Rose of Tralee, making her the first winner from the Lake county.

Duffy was confirmed as this year's winner following Tuesday night's final, and was presented with her sash by 2019 winner Dr Sinead Flanagan.

The annual festival suffered two years of cancellation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This year marked the 61st Rose of Tralee International Festival, featuring 33 Roses from around Ireland and the world - with Waterford having been represented by 23-year-old audit associate, Helen Geary, from Ballyduff Upper.

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Duffy, from Rosemount, graduated from NUI Galway last year having studied Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies and Spanish, and she plans to return to complete a Master's Degree in order to become a Spanish and English teacher.

The event, which was hosted by Dáithí Ó Sé, saw Duffy crowned in the Kerry Sports Academy at MTU, and had viewers tuning in from countries around the world, including Turkey, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia.

"I’m pinching myself now wondering if it just happened," Duffy said after her win.

"I’m so grateful for this honour; it was such an honour to represent my community and my county and now to be the Rose of Tralee is just unbelievable.”

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"I never anticipated ending up here, I’m looking forward to the memories I’m going to make. If the last two weeks are anything to go on I know I’m going to make memories to last a lifetime," she added.

As the 2022 winner, Westmeath woman Duffy will receive a range of Tipperary Crystal and an exclusively designed trophy, a KIA Niro plug-in hybrid EV, hairstyling by Sean Taaffe Hair & Beauty for the year, complimentary accommodation at the Meadowlands Hotel throughout the year, a week-long adventure break from Kerry County Council, and a world travel prize which has been valued at €25,000.

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