A young Donegal man is working hard in the Kingdom this week in the prestigious role as a Rose Escort.

Cillian Ó Gallachóir from Falcarragh is one of 33 escorts at this year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Cillian, who is flying the flag for Donegal alongside Rose Katie McAteer from Rathmullan.

Escorts have an important task of supporting the Roses as they attend various events and interviews. 

“You have to be polite, courteous, and support your Rose in whatever way you can, even if it’s just carrying their handbag,” says Cillian. 

“The Roses have a very busy schedule throughout the festival as they attend various events and interviews, so you are there as a support system for your Rose to ensure they are relaxed, confident, and enjoying every moment of the festival.”

Rose Escort Cillian Ó Gallachóir with Donegal Rose Katie McAteer in the driving seat! Cillian is sponsored by John McGinley Coach Travel

The role is yet another string to Cillian’s bow. The 27-year-old is a skilled footballer with Cloughaneely GAA and Glenea United. He has a Masters degree in Cancer Research and currently works as a Quality Engineer for a medical device company in Galway.

Cillian’s adventure as an Escort was almost completely influenced by his sisters he says.

He told Donegal Daily: “I have three younger sisters and they are massive fans of the festival, so when an advertisement popped up for the Rose Escort role at the start of the year, they really encouraged me to apply for it! I didn’t have the confidence initially, but my sisters have taken part in events such as the ‘August Fair Queen’ (Dunfanaghy), and the ‘An Cailin Gaelach’ (Comortas Peile na Gaeltachta), and they have had amazing experiences from them, so that gave me encouragement.

“The Rose of Tralee International Festival is a prestigious and I wanted to experience it first-hand for myself! To fulfil the role of a Rose Escort really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

The festival is in full-swing this week, but Cillian’s journey started months ago. In June he travelled to Tralee, Co. Kerry for the annual Rose Escort Bootcamp that was organised by Kerry County Council.

“We are led by a Rose Escort Chaperone Team, and they really put us through our paces over the Bootcamp weekend. The RTE camera crew were there to capture it all, so tune in on the Monday 22nd August 2022 to see what we got up to,” he said.

Cillian also attended a photoshoot with Benetti Menswear, the title sponsor for the Rose Escorts 2022, at Casement Aerodome in Baldonnel.

More recently he had a local shoot with Katie McAteer in Letterkenny with his sponsor ‘John McGinley Coach Travel’.

Cillian said: “I would like to say a massive thank you to ‘John McGinley Coach Travel’ for sponsoring me for this prestigious festival. Their support has been phenomenal. Also, thanks to ‘Evolve Clothing’ and ‘Benetti Menswear’ for their help in kitting me out in formal wear for the festival.”

While Cillian is busy chaperoning, he says he will be cheering on Donegal Rose Katie as she takes to the stage on Monday or Tuesday.

“I was fortunate to meet Katie last week and she’s a lovely person,” he said. “She has a great personality; really kind, friendly and is always smiling! I have no doubt she will do herself and her family proud as she represents Donegal in Tralee. All of Donegal will be cheering for Katie in Tralee!”

There’s a bit of healthy competition among the Escorts too, as the winning escort of the year will receive a €1000 in cash, along with becoming a global ambassador for the festival.

The Rose of Tralee airs on August 22 and 23 on RTÉ One from 8pm-9pm and 9.35pm-11.35pm.