Meet the fair rose of Sunderland

Rose of Tralee finalist Niamh O'Connell.
Rose of Tralee finalist Niamh O'Connell.
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AN IRISH beauty who says she is an “honorary Mackem” has been crowned Sunderland’s Rose of Tralee.

Niamh O’Connell faced a grilling in front of judges at Irish bar Paddy Whacks to take the title and become the city’s entry in the prestigious festival.

Paddy Whacks bar boss Seamus Whelan (right) and judges (left, from front) Sally-Anne devine, Aoife Doudall and Dan O'Mahony are pictured with Rose of Tralee finalists Niamh O'Connell (front, left) and Danielle Mullane.

Paddy Whacks bar boss Seamus Whelan (right) and judges (left, from front) Sally-Anne devine, Aoife Doudall and Dan O'Mahony are pictured with Rose of Tralee finalists Niamh O'Connell (front, left) and Danielle Mullane.

The pharmacy student, who moved to the city in 2008, will now represent Sunderland in the regional finals held at Port Laoise in June.

Niamh, 20, said: “It was very exciting to win as I love Sunderland.

“I work at TJ Doyles in Deptford and everyone there has taken me in. It truly feels like home from home.”

If Niamh succeeds in the regional finals, she will win a place at the annual Rose of Tralee International Festival, which attracts the highest viewing figures for live television in Ireland.

Seamus Whelan, events manager at Paddy Whacks, said: “It’s a very prestigious and popular competition and we like to think the Irish community in Sunderland is well represented.

“We started the competition in 2009 after sponsoring the winner of the 2008 Newcastle heats, Aoife Doudall.

“Niamh is a very confident young woman and she comes across really well so we are very happy she has won.”