2016 Ohio Rose named at annual fundraiser

2016 Ohio Rose Kathleen Rose O'Donnell is in good company with U.S. Marine escorts from the 3rd Battalion 25th Marines headquartered in Brook Park. Photo by Egon Luengo

Over 200 guests and sponsors attended the sixth annual Ohio Rose Selection Celebration hosted by Westlake World Partners (WWP), a non-profit group formed to support the City of Westlake’s Sister Cities programming. Its annual fundraiser took place on Feb. 13 at the West Side Irish American Club.

Westlake World Partners manages the Ohio Rose Centre, an affiliate of The Rose of Tralee International Festival. WWP’s founders saw the opportunity to engage with The Festival as a natural extension of Westlake’s Sister City relationship with the Town of Tralee in Ireland. The municipalities became Sister Cities or “Twin Towns” (as they are referred to in Ireland) in 2009. 

Held each August since 1959, The Rose of Tralee International Festival fetes young ladies of Irish ancestry who embody the potential of modern women of Irish lineage worldwide. Following her selection, the 2016 Rose of Tralee will make numerous public, private and media appearances as she represents The Festival throughout Ireland and abroad.

In addition to Ohio’s Westlake-based Rose Centre, there are 68 other Rose Centres throughout Ireland and worldwide, each of which will name their own 2016 Rose. In the spirit of friendship and cultural celebration amid a backdrop of a vibrant festival, all Roses will meet in Tralee, Ireland this summer. As the selection process continues, the field of Roses will narrow to 32 finalists from which one will be chosen as the 2016 Rose of Tralee. 

The 2016 Ohio Rose Selection attracted a field of nine Rose hopefuls. Representing the Westshore were: Westlake residents Catherine Byrne and Erin Mackin, along with Rocky River's Maureen Rose Ginley and Colleen Verhiley. Also participating this year were: Siobhan McCarthy (Akron), Alexandria Klemens (Canton), Grainne Hutchinson (Dublin), and Molly Kathleen Petre and Kathleen Rose O’Donnell, both of Cincinnati.

After an evening that included traditional Irish music, dance, presentation of the third Westlake World Partners Founders’ Award to Dan Coughlin (who served the Ohio Rose Centre as its event emcee for its first five Rose Selections), and final remarks by 2015 Ohio Rose Katrina “Kaytee” Szente of Bay Village, the judges returned from their deliberations and passed the results to emcee Sean Lackey. Amid great anticipation Sean opened the envelope and announced Kathleen Rose O’Donnell of Cincinnati as 2016 Ohio Rose.

This year’s judging chair was 1971 Rose of Tralee Linda McCravy Shubeck who was joined by 1988 Kerry Rose Rebekah Wall of Tralee, Ireland, and John Griffin, director of the Boston-New England Rose Centre. Rebekah Wall previously assisted with the Tralee end of Westlake/Tralee Student Art Exchange during Westlake’s 2011 Bicentennial Celebration.

Denise McConville, a Tralee native, Westlake resident and WWP Board member serves as executive director of the Ohio Rose Centre.  

Experience has shown that Sister City programming not only promotes friendships and furthers international understanding between cities, but it can bring community entities closer together. WWP has been engaged with local schools and non-profits such as the Westlake City Schools, Westlake-Westshore Arts Council and Westlake Historical Society.

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Volume 8, Issue 4, Posted 9:27 AM, 02.16.2016