A 27-YEAR-old mum of two from Frankfield is this year’s Cork Rose, and she says she’s looking forward to bringing diversity to the role.
Stephanie McCarthy is a Neuroscience graduate from UCC who, as well as currently studying for a masters in Pharmaceutical Technology from Griffith College Dublin, is mum to a six- and two-year-old and working part time.
How did she find the time to claim the 2019 Cork Rose sash?.
“I love being busy!” explained Stephanie.
She said taking part in the competition was something she always wanted to do and as she approached the cut-off age of 29, it was a case of now or never.
And with six-year-old daughter Kayla there to see her win last Saturday night in the Clayton Silversprings Hotel (it was a little late for her younger brother Logan!) she described it as a proud moment for them both.
“She was one very excited little girl alright,” said Stephanie.
One of three, Stephanie has a twin sister, Shauna, an IT consultant with Version 1 in Cork city, and a brother, Aaron, a Dublin- based lawyer.
Her mum Antoinette grew up in Dubai but moved to Ireland as a teenager; while her dad Tom has roots in Kerry and Cork and is a sergeant in Mayfield.
Stephanie is very family- oriented and says her family, who she describes as ‘amazing’, are completely behind her in everything she does, and do everything they can to support her.
A lot of her Masters work is done online, she’s ultra- disciplined and hits the laptop when her kids are asleep.
Her ultimate ambition is to develop therapies for conditions with limited treatments by working in clinical trials.
When she’s not studying, Stephanie says her main hobbies are fashion (she wore a Dando London gown for the competition) and modelling. She has represented Assets and Lockdown agencies and works part-time as a bridal consultant in her aunt’s business, Cinderella’s Closet in the Northpoint Business Park.
“I love styling people and being part of their big day,” she adds.
For now though, she’s focused on the lead-up to the 60th Rose of Tralee festival in August and everything her year long reign will involve.
“I’ve always been a fan and admired this celebration of women and its diversity, so to be part of it is something I’m really going to enjoy,” said Stephanie, whose German-born, Cork-based partner Jan was also there to support her on the night. “I know it’s a cliché, but it’s all still a bit of a shock, and a little surreal. I’m just enjoying it all and soaking it up,” she said.
Denis Griffin, Cork Rose coordinator, said there was a fantastic level of entry this year with 41 girls, one of their highest yet.
Worth noting, he said, was that judges this year commented on the diverse range of professions (everything from engineers to metal fabricators, solicitors, STEM advocates to political scientists) and the experiences the girls had which “shows how modern the Rose of Tralee can be”.
“Stephanie has the ability to represent the class of 2019 with pride and passion for her county. She has a fantastic, warm personality which is what the judges saw,” he said.
However, he added that they regard everyone who sends in an application to be a winner.
“Our philosophy is that the girl who is chosen on the night is their ambassador,” he said.
“We had a really successful series of Cork Rose events this year that bonded the whole class of 2019 and they were all both thrilled they took part and thrilled for Stephanie,” Denis said.
Stephanie added that it was an amazing honour to represent the group of 41.
“It can be hard to meet new friends after college but it’s lovely to feel so close to such a group of people in so short a time.”