AUGUST will see a celebration of Irish culture around the globe take place at the 59th annual Rose of Tralee Festival. And representing Melbourne, Australia, is Cork’s very own Suzie Jackson.
After graduating from UCC with an honours degree in Bachelor of Science in Nursing and training in the Mercy University Hospital, Suzie made the move to Oz three years ago.
The 27-year-old from Carrigaline is now looking forward to sharing her pride for her new home Down Under on the world stage.
“I have fallen in love with the beautiful, vibrant magic Melbourne, its alternative and quirky vibe you just can’t get anywhere else,” she says.
“Melbourne has been voted the most liveable city for eight year running, and that pretty much speaks for itself. The laid-back vibe and dress sense to suit everyone really appeals to me.
“The public transport is second to none with trams and trains outside your doorstep, and I love the outdoor lifestyle, from hikes in the Grampians to skydivers and kite surfers in St Kilda.
“The sunset on St Kilda pier with the penguins really is something special and I consider myself lucky to call this place home.”
Despite embracing life Down Under, Suzie admits there are things she misses about home.
“I miss a lot of things, number one being my parents.
“I miss my Mammy’s home cooked dinners and Barry’s tea, you just can’t beat it on a winter’s day. Before you ask, yes, winter does exist in Australia, and it’s much colder than you’d think.
“In saying that, my granny is on the ball for sending me packages with Barry’s tea and Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate so I rarely run out!
“I also miss watching RTÉ and the soaps, I was a big Fair City fan.
“Last but not least, my girls (fellow Roses), who I cannot wait to reunite with in August.”
The experience of the Melbourne Rose has been “amazing so far,” Suzie says.
“The Melbourne Rose centre have a really dedicated committee who are really good at their jobs. They pulled off the most magical selection night in the Regent Theatre in Melbourne’s central business district for 450 people.
“I am just so honoured to represent Melbourne, the place where I have lived for the past three years and fallen in love with.
“I am honoured and privileged to represent it. I will wear the sash with pride and hopefully do the people of Melbourne proud.”
With an international upbringing, and born on Valentine’s day no less, Suzie had the makings of a Rose right from the start.
Her father Bryan was born in New York but moved to Ireland as a teenager, where he met Bishopstown native Ber. The couple emigrated to Boston where Suzie was born, and lived there until she was four.
“My parents always thought I was destined to be a Rose, like the lyrics of Wolfe Tones song Boston Rose,” she says.
“As a child I always dreamt of being as Rose and I was fascinated by all the inspiring women and their achievements.
“When I was a child we would gather around in my Granny’s house, all the grandchildren, and watch the Rose of Tralee as a household tradition.
“You could hear a pin drop as we watched Gay Byrne skilfully interview the beautiful Roses on stage, then we would have our own little rendition, one of our fathers being Gay Byrne and the granddaughters were the Roses.
“There wasn’t a spare seat in the house.”
Now that the dream is a reality, Suzie says that her parents are “absolutely ecstatic”.
“I haven’t seen my family in a whole year so the countdown is on! There will be about 20 family members attending and cheering me on, from my dearest fan, my Granny, who will be 84 this year, to my beautiful goddaughter Allie who is the most excited and has promoted herself to my PR manager, even though she is only 10!”
Overall, Suzie says that she is looking forward to taking in “this magical journey I am about to embark on”.
“I have heard from previous Roses it is hard to put into words what I am about to experience, so I think I will be blown away.
“I am mostly looking forward to meeting my new Rose sisters from all over the world and forming new friendships forever and having fun oh and meeting Daithí of course!”
Suzie says the best advice she has received from previous Roses is “to be yourself, don’t change who you are, stay true to yourself and have fun”.
“I am really looking forward to this magical celebration of Irish women around the world and I feel so lucky to be a part of it.”