The Rose of Tralee International Festival is one of Ireland's largest and longest running festivals, celebrating 59 years in 2018. The heart of the festival is the selection of the Rose of Tralee which brings young women of Irish descent from around the world to County Kerry, Ireland for a global celebration of Irish culture. The festival also includes street entertainment, carnival, live concerts, theatre, circus, markets, funfair, fireworks and Rose Parades. 

Kentucky Rose

Since 2012 the Lexington Celtic Association has sent a Kentucky Rose to the Rose of Tralee in Ireland.  Throughout the year the Celtic Association receives applications for the Rose of Kentucky.  From the applications up to 12 contestants are selected, and from these contestants the Kentucky Rose is chosen at the annual Rose Ball.

Applicants must be between ages 18-27; unmarried; born in Ireland or be of Irish origin; never have previously been a Rose in the International Rose of Tralee selection; and be available for regional final and international festival events.

Contestants must demonstrate inner beauty, character, confidence and charisma, reflecting the qualities of today’s Irish-American woman. The winner receives an all-expenses-paid trip to Ireland to compete in the Regional Rose of Tralee Festival, featuring nearly 70 young women of Irish heritage from around the world.

Applications for 2017 are now closed.
To apply for 2020, please go HERE and then follow instructions.


Girls aged 6 to 12 are encouraged to apply to become a Rose Bud.  Each of the 12 chosen Rose Buds get to be part of the Rose Ball, and ride on the Rose Bud float in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.  Click HERE to download and print out an application with full instructions.


Our 5th annual Rose Ball will be held April 28th at Grand Reserve on Manchester St in Lexington. The Ball will start at 6.30pm with a cocktail hour and dinner will be served at 7.30pm-8.30pm. Our Roses will be on stage from 9pm-10pm, followed by a silent auction and then the winner will be announced!!
Rose Ball tickets are on sale at Failte Irish Imports.


McCarthy's (Table)
Harvey's (Table)
Tom Ryan (Escort)
Dromoland Farm (Escort)

Paramount Sales (Table & Rose)
McTeggart Irish Dancers (Table & Rose)
Ashford Stud (Table & Rose)
Castleton Lyons (Table & Rose)
Corrigan Racing (Table & Rose)

2017 Kentucky Rose Lori Gavin


My name is Lorraine, and I am the 2018 Kentucky Rose. I’m originally from Islandeady, Co. Mayo, and in 2016 I moved to Louisville with my job in Portwest, where I am now the Operations Manager for Portwest USA. I attended Cloggernagh National School and the Sacred Heart School in Westport before studying Applied Languages in the University of Limerick, and a Postgraduate Diploma in International Business Development in the Irish Management Institute in Dublin. I enjoy travelling, and learning about new cultures and societies. I have had the privilege of living in and visiting in many countries, but am so very proud to call Kentucky my new home. Moving away from family and friends was difficult, and it can be hard for them to understand why I would leave home, but it has been very easy for me to stay in Kentucky. The people of Kentucky and Louisville, the extended expat and Irish communities and all of my coworkers, friends and acquaintances have made my time here very special, and made me feel more welcome than I could have imagined. To represent Kentucky as a Rose in Tralee was an indescribable experience, and I was delighted to be able to share my love for Louisville and Kentucky. As the 2018 Rose, I hope to promote this beautiful Bluegrass state as an attractive location for young Irish graduates who are looking for exciting opportunities in their careers. I look forward to the next year and all the exciting times ahead

2017 Kentucky Rose -- Martha Mortell

Meet Martha Mortell, the 2017 Kentucky Rose, who lived in Blarney until she was 13.
The daughter of Paul and Helen, she went to Scoil Iosagain and made her First Holy Communion and Confirmation in the Church of the Immaculate Conception. 
Martha played camogie for Blarney for years, and also rode horses from the age of 5 or 6, learning at the Blarney Riding Centre and then when she got older at Eden Hill in Mallow with Bill O' Callaghan as part of the Duhallow Pony Club. 
In 2010 Martha started secondary school at Scoil Mhuire Gan Smal and during the summer of 2011 her parents, sister, 2 dogs and 2 horses moved to Lexington Kentucky. 
As the 2017 Kentucky Rose Martha will be travelling to Ireland at the start of August and will be there for the Rose of Tralee festival. 
After the festival she will return to Kentucky to start her 3rd year at the University of Kentucky, pursuing a degree in Biochemistry with a minor in mathematics, with the hope of one day attending medical school and becoming a doctor or getting a PhD and be a medical research scientist.

2016 Kentucky Rose -- Morgan Loy

Morgan Loy is the 2016 Kentucky Rose. She was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky and is currently a student at the University of Kentucky. Her Irish roots were planted in County Derry, where her family, the James, called home back in the early 1900s. While her Irish heritage seems distant, her parents have made it a priority to teach her three sisters and herself about their rich ancestry. when she found out about the opportunity to serve as an ambassador she immerse herself into Lexington’s Irish community.
I am so happy I took this opportunity because I am now looking forward to the experience of a lifetime. I will be making friends with Roses from all over the world, exploring Ireland like I couldn’t possibly imagine, and hoping to connect deeper with my Irish roots. I hope to represent Kentucky in the best way possible but most importantly, I hope to make the Irish community here very proud. While I have served as the Kentucky Rose for only a short time, I have already experienced the honor and privilege it is to hold this position. I am counting down the days to Tralee and am looking forward to all of the upcoming events!

2015 Kentucky Rose -- Emily Hughes

My name is Emily Hughes and I am the 2015 Kentucky Rose.  I was born and raised in Kentucky but have strong Irish roots. I went to the University of Louisville and graduated with an undergraduate’s degree in History. However, after college I wanted to pursue another passion in my life, which is fitness. I am a certified barre and aerial fitness instructor and manage a local fitness studio in Louisville.

My amazing parents left Ireland in order to make a better life for their family, but they have never lost their connection with Ireland. My parents are from County Tyrone and most of our extended family still lives there. Since we have so much family still living in Ireland we try to make the trip across the Atlantic at least once a year to visit. One thing my parents have always taught me is to value my Irish roots and I am so thankful that they did.

I have always loved anything involving Ireland and enjoy sharing my heritage with others, so when I heard about the Rose of Tralee I knew it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. I joined the Rose of Tralee in Kentucky because I thought it would be a fun way to make new friends and share my love for Ireland, but little did I know the impact that it would forever hold on my life. 

I have now made friends from all around the world and experienced Ireland in a way that no one but a Rose could ever experience it. Irish people love the Rose of Tralee and truly treat the Roses like royalty. The Rose of Tralee is so much more than a competition, it is an opportunity of a lifetime and the amazing memories that I have from the festival I will cherish forever.

2014 Kentucky Rose -- Claire Curran

Hello! My name is Claire Curran and I am the 2014 Kentucky Rose. My Irish connection comes from my great-grandmother who immigrated to the States from County Mayo. Before I was crowned in March of 2014, I worked as a Revenue Program Office for the Kentucky Department of Revenue in Frankfort, Kentucky. I also received my bachelor’s in International Business and Spanish from Murray State University in 2012.

The summer of 2014 was such an exciting time for me. I competed in the regional festival in Portlaoise, Ireland in May and was beyond thrilled and shock to be selected as the first Kentucky representative for the International Rose of Tralee festival in August of that year. I made so many wonderful friends with the other Roses from around the world and was even trending on Ireland’s twitter after my televised stage interview.When I returned to Kentucky, the mayor of Lexington declared August 28th as "Claire Curran Day" in Lexington and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes named me a Kentucky Colonel. 

Since my reign, I have been accepted to and started my accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) at Northern Kentucky University. I also got engaged to the love of my life, Zack Lawson, in December of 2015 and we plan to get married in the spring of 2017!

2013 Kentucky Rose -- Savannah Miller

My name is Savannah Miller and I was the 2013 Kentucky Rose.  I was born and raised in Louisville, KY and my family traces its ancestry back to Castlebar in County Mayo.  Growing up I was a competitive Irish Dancer and was heavily involved with the local Irish community.

In 2013 I was lucky enough to represent Kentucky in the Rose of Tralee and had the time of my life.  The Rose of Tralee was one of the most amazing experiences and it has allowed me to meet some of my closest, life long friends from all over the world.

I graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2015 with a BA in History and a minor in Anthropology.  In fall 2015 I moved to Ireland to pursue an MA in Museum Studies at the University College Cork.  I feel so blessed to be living in Ireland and am looking forward to all the great times ahead! 

2012 Kentucky Rose -- Annie Wright

Annie graduated from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky in 2013. After spending a year working part-time and traveling the Western United States, she moved to Greenville, North Carolina to attend East Carolina University.

Annie is currently pursuing her Master's in Maritime and Underwater Archaeology. Her research focuses on constructing digital 3D replicas of shipwreck sites for use in museums. She also teaches scuba diving classes at the university. Additionally, Annie enjoys playing music, hiking, and spending time with her dog.