Donegal Rose Amy Callaghan was warmly welcomed back to Letterkenny last night in a homecoming celebration at Century Complex.
The party at Backstage Bar & Grill saw friends, family, supporters and colleagues toasting to Amy’s outstanding success at the Rose of Tralee Festival.
Amy’s journey as the Donegal Rose was sponsored by Century Complex, where Amy works as part of the Backstage team.
The 22-year-old Letterkenny woman was brimming with stories from the many exciting happenings in Tralee last week.
Amy’s proud parents Seimi and Geraldine Callaghan also had many tales to share from the festival as they cheered Amy on and met a wonderful mix of families from all over the world.
Many people last night had not seen Amy since her televised interview with Daithi O Se. Family and friends praised and congratulated her for her bravery to speak out about her depression as a teenager.
Those closest to Amy knew about her mental health struggles in secondary school, but she has since opened up a conversation on the issue all over Ireland and this was evident last night.
Mum Geraldine told Donegal Woman how she hopes that many more great things will come from Amy’s time as a Rose: “I wrote a card to Amy on the night that we left her off to the Rose hotel to tell her how happy I was for her and to tell her to really milk every second of this experience because it is a once in a lifetime experience.
“In reflection of where she had been and what we had come through with her I said to her that sometimes the most difficult journeys yield the greatest destinations and you are on that route to a great destination. I hope this is the start of an incredible journey for her.
“She has a message that is relevant to so many people out there, and because she is young and she has come out of that bleak hole she was in I think people might relate to her,” she said.
Amy’s fundraising efforts for local mental health charities will continue throughout her reign as Donegal Rose. Last night she made a presentation to Pieta House with proceeds from the Night at the Races fundraiser she held in Backstage last June. Another half of the total will be donated to Jigsaw Donegal – a drop-in support centre for young people in Letterkenny.
A raffle was held at the homecoming to generate more support for the charities, and there was much excitement over the amazing prizes.
Connie Lynch said the Century Complex team couldn’t be more proud of their colleague:
“We are so proud of Amy, she spoke so well about mental health and the stigma around it. She is such a lovely level-headed young lady to work with. She is brilliant and we’ll be glad to have her back at work. We’ve missed her and we’re just so proud of her.”
Donegal Rose of Tralee co-ordinator Elaine McInaw welcomed Amy home with some kind words: “We’re delighted to have our Donegal Rose Amy back after her whirlwind adventure in the Rose of Tralee. She really was an inspiration and we at the Donegal Rose centre couldn’t be more proud.”
Joanna Wheston was on the Donegal Rose selection judging panel in March when Amy was picked as this year’s representative. Joanna looked back on Amy’s qualities that stood out:
“Amy won us over based on many things. The mental health issue didn’t come up. It was obviously so close to her heart that she brought it up in the dome. It wasn’t why we picked Amy. We picked her for everything else she produced on that day. Her talent, her dancing, we were totally enthralled with her passion for Cirque du Soleil and she was engaging from the get-go,” Joanna said.
Amy is now looking forward to a holiday in California before some exciting events this year and next. The talented dancer has been announced as a new tutor at Encore Performing Arts Academy, where she will teach classes alongside her job at Backstage Bar & Grill.
Amy will be a special guest at the Finn Harps FC Fashion Show in association with Donegal Hospice on 6th September at the Clanree Hotel Letterkenny. This, and many more trips and events are all ahead of the ambassador who made Donegal proud last week in Kerry.
Read Amy’s latest interview with Donegal Woman here: