THIS Sunderland University student looks blooming lovely as she’s crowned the city’s candidate for the Rose of Tralee.
Talitha Orlandi, 21, will now represent Sunderland in the regional finals of the prestigious pageant which is celebrated by Irish communities around the world.
She scooped a place in the contest, which is held annually in the town of Tralee in County Kerry, Ireland, after wowing judges at Paddywhacks in Green Terrace.
The bar’s consultant general manager Seamus Whelan said: “The contest has been going for more than 50 years and this is our fourth Sunderland entry.
“It’s an absolutely huge event in Ireland. It’s beamed live over two nights and is one of the biggest live TV events in Ireland. Every county in Ireland has the opportunity to be represented and Irish communities from around the world also compete.
“The Sunderland girls have always done well and have made it through to the grand final.”
Pharmacy student Talitha, from Mullingar, County Westmeath, competed against other students of Irish descent, Danielle Farrell, 20 and Edel Doran, 24.
She said: “I’ve had loads of messages of congratulations. I didn’t know what to think when I found out I’d won, I was just so excited.”
The third-year student added: “I have loved living in Sunderland. The people here are lovely and are just like the Irish. It feels homely to me.”
Seamus said: “The winner of the Rose of Tralee will go on to be a goodwill ambassador for the country for a year. It’s not a beauty pageant. It’s about intelligence, personality and integrity first.
“The girls were absolutely superb. They had to undergo an interview and a group discussion as well as performing a talent.
“The judges said Talitha won because of her personality, confidence and communication skills.”
Talitha sang I Can’t Make You Love Me as her talent and will compete in the Rose of Tralee regional final, held in Portlaoise, at the end of May.
Stemmed from love
The Rose of Tralee International Festival is based on the love song The Rose of Tralee, by William Mulchinock, a 19th century wealthy merchant who was in love with Mary O’Connor, his maid.
The festival as it is today stems from Tralee’s Carnival Queen, once a thriving annual town event, fallen by the wayside due to post-war emigration.
In 1957 Race Week Carnival was resurrected in Tralee that featured a Carnival Queen. A year later a group of local business people met in Harty’s Bar in Tralee and decided to revamp the carnival in a way that would regenerate the town, encourage tourism and keep the race crowd in town overnight.
The new event would be called a festival and the carnival queen contest turned into a celebration of the Rose of Tralee song.
Young women would also be sought from outside Tralee and heats were held as far away as London, Birmingham, New York and Dublin with the help of local Kerry people living abroad.