Donegal’s new Rose Chloe Kennedy talks to DW about celebrations, challenges and the power of positivity.

Donegal Town student Chloe Kennedy has a very exciting summer ahead after being crowned the Donegal Rose of 2019.

Donegal Rose Chloe Kennedy, Sponsored by Rory’s Auto Spares

And she has double the honour this time because she will be Donegal’s Rose for two years under new competition changes.

Chloe is guaranteed an interview with Daithí O Se in the Dome at the end of August, as 32 Roses have been selected instead of the 64 in previous years. As a result, there will be no Donegal Selection in 2020 and Chloe will hold onto the title.

The 20-year-old said having this ambassador role was always her dream.

She told DW: “I wanted to be a Rose since I was a wee girl. I have two sisters so it was always a big thing in my house.

“I thought I would wait and go for it after college, but I decided to just go for it. You have to do things when you get the chance.”

That ambition paid off, as Chloe made it through the Selection Night in May.

Chloe Kennedy and the Rose hopefuls at the Donegal Rose Selection Night, 25th May 2019

To hear her name being called as the winner, she said, “was like I was floating above my body. It didn’t sink in for a second. I was so emotional. It was one of those moments I’ll cherish forever.”

Chloe is looking forward to a busy summer of attending events and making new friendships. She’s already part of a busy group chat with the other Roses from around the world.

“I just want to do my best and enjoy every moment. Even now, the support I’m getting encourages me. Like any girl, I would have struggled, thinking ‘am I good enough for it’. You just have to believe in yourself,” she said.

Chloe, who is studying Psychology in Maynooth University, knows all about the power of positivity.

She was diagnosed with a cancer called Hodgkin’s Lymphoma at the end of last year. With the support of her family and friends, she has thankfully made it through the illness and finished treatment shortly before becoming the Donegal Rose.

Chloe Kennedy and her family at the Donegal Rose Selection Night, 25th May 2019

“It was tough but I consider myself very lucky. Cancer touches so many people, but if I can raise awareness of it I’d tell people to be aware of your body, if you notice something’s up then go with your gut feeling and go to your doctor,” she said.

Chloe is a firm believer in using positivity to overcome life’s hurdles.

She said: “A good mental attitude will get you through anything. We all have bad days. But you tell yourself it will be okay and you will pick yourself up.

“When you look at other people and what they are going through you see that your own situation isn’t as bad as you think.”

Before returning to college in September, one of Chloe’s many summer outings will include attending the Mary from Dungloe festival to support some of her new friends from the Donegal Rose Selection night.

For Chloe, she believes that taking part in such competitions can give young women a great platform and confidence boost.

For other women thinking about putting themselves forward, she said: “Just go for it. Believe in yourself. It’s sometimes the hardest thing to do but you’ll surprise yourself and you’ll gain so much confidence.

“No matter what happens you can say I stood up there and I spoke in front of a crowd. You are learning valuable skills and making friends and your whole family comes together to support you. What more could you want, it’s fantastic!”