This Friday August 19 the highly anticipated 2011 Rose of Tralee International Festival will get under way but this year Longford will be represented by James Duignan (22) from Longford town, who will be an escort at the event.
A graduate of NUI Galway, James spoke to the Longford Leader about his pending trip to County Kerry and his expectations of the week ahead.
“I’m a member of the background team down in Tralee,” he said modestly of his position as an International Escort. “All 32 escorts will be working together and working with the festival committee to make sure things go well for the roses.”
On Thursday, James will find out which Rose is his partner for the four day internationally acclaimed festival.
“We are matched up based on our personality so I’m sure I’ll get along with whoever is my rose for the few days,” said James. “I’m sure it will be someone with similar hobbies and interests.”
James, who works as a co-ordinator at the Attic Youth Cafe in Longford, is a son of John and Assumpta Duignan.
“I have to say that they (the Rose of Tralee committee) really look after us. I spent time in Ballinasloe in a boot camp and it was great. Also, our suits are being provided free of charge from suit hire businesses in Tralee. I just had to send down my measurements,” he said.
As part of his activities as an escort in the lead up to the festival, James undertook a charity game show night last weekend at the Longford Arms Hotel.
“It was a great opportunity to raise awareness for something that doesn’t get much attention,” said James whose charity of choice was 1Life Suicide Helpline. “It was a great cause to get involved with and I certainly learned a lot.”
Looking forward to the week ahead, James believes that the experience is already a success story.
“You really do make some great friends. All the ones from the Longford night, through to boot camp and then the new people I’ll meet in Tralee. It’s been fantastic so far,” he said. “I’m looking forward to representing County Longford in Tralee.”