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Rose blooms

Former Mayo Rose of Tralee Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin is forging a career in music and TV.
Former Rose’s TV and music career blossoming

Michael Duffy

WHILE winning the Rose of Tralee competition in 2005 has certainly changed Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin’s life, the career path taken by the Carnacon woman since her great victory has also reinvigorated interest in the contest.
Next week, 31 roses take to the stage in Tralee in the hope of claiming the coveted crown – a crown which has led to Aoibhinn building both a TV and music career during the last year.
The 24-year-old was last week paraded before a host of photographers as RTÉ got all its stars together for the launch of its autumn schedule – and this after she had just returned from a 25-date, month-long tour of Japan with traditional Irish music band, Ragus, with whom she is now lead singer.
“It’s been a hectic few weeks but I am really enjoying the experience with both the music and TV work. I never thought when I was heading down the road to Tralee two years ago that it would lead to all this,” Aoibhinn told The Mayo News on Monday. She is off with Ragus to do a European tour next month, before coming back to Ireland to film the new series of The Panel in October.
“The Panel is just great fun to work on and I will be sharing the ‘female’ chair with Mairead Farrell for the coming year. There are a few more things in the pipeline with RTÉ, but I’m not obsessed with making a career out of television work. It’s a very competitive industry, obviously because it so much fun to work in, but I’m just enjoying it while I’m involved.”
While most people will be familiar with Aoibhinn’s work on television, the musical string to her bow has not received as much attention. Ragus can be best described as ‘a traditional Irish musical troop’ who travel the world bringing music with an Irish flavour to its many fans. The group rang Aoibhinn ‘out of the blue’ earlier this year to see if she would be interested in singing with them.
“I did a couple of gigs with Sharon Shannon last year and then Ragus rang and asked would I be interested in coming on tour with them. We went to the States first of all and then Japan and we will be starting our European tour in Holland next month.”
The band, which was started by a group of friends in Inish Mór, will be celebrating ten years in existence next year and Aoibhinn hopes that may lead to them playing some gigs in Ireland, and Mayo, in 2008.
She also wished all the contestants in this year’s Rose of Tralee the very best of luck next week.
“The Rose of Tralee opened up a whole new world for me and all the girls will have they week of their lives in Kerry next week. It’s a once in a lifetime chance.”


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