'My sister's organ donor inspired me to go for Rose of Tralee'

A Rose of Tralee hopeful would not have signed up for the contest had it not been for her sister’s organ donor.

Abu Dhabi Rose Karen Cashman was inspired to enter after her younger sister Edel underwent a liver transplant.

Karen said it encouraged her to seize the day and grab any experiences life throws at her.

“There’s things that have happened that have put things into perspective. My sister has been quite ill, she got a liver transplant last Autumn,” she said.

“She’s fine, she’s flying, she’s doing really well so this doesn’t phase us as a family. We’ve been through so much so I just want to make the most of this opportunity.”

Her sister Edel was diagnosed when she was nine with an autoimmune disease. In 2016 she got a severe infection, and her condition deteriorated.

“It was life and death to be honest, and she was put on the transplant list and it was almost a two-year wait to the day,” Karen said.

Karen said will always be extremely grateful to the family of the donor, and hopes other families will be inspired by her story.

“We’re so grateful to the donor family and for how selfless they were in a very tragic time”.

She says she wouldn’t have gone for the Rose if her sister was still sick as it would have been to much for her parents to deal with. She said her sister Edel will be watching and cheering her on.

The festival has made changes ahead of this year’s competition. Previously, 64 roses were selected prior to the televised event. Only 32 Roses will travel to Kerry this year, but all will appear on television.

Another change means that only Dublin, Cork, and Kerry will now enter a Rose every year while regional and international committees will only send a Rose every two or three years.

The age limit has also been increased to 28 (entrants cannot be 29 until after September 1 the in which they participate) to accommodate Roses who may be on the nearing the age limit but were unable to enter this year.

The Rose of Tralee will be crowned in the Festival Dome live on RTÉ One on Tuesday, August 27.

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