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1993 Southern California Rose of Tralee - EILEEN HUNT MCKEAGNEY

“I’m in love with the notion that Beauty is defined by “the truth in her eye ever dawning.”

Fifteen years later, I am still enamored with the Rose of Tralee. I’m in love with the notion that Beauty is defined by “the truth in her eye ever dawning.” It was that very definition of Beauty that prompted me to fill out that first Rose application. I was in my early-twenties, and in the midst of my search for passion and identity, which were inexplicably intertwined at the time. And it was then, in the midst of my search, that someone saw the pilgrim soul in me. Terry opened the folded paper in his hand and read my name and I was Rose. Was I beautiful then? No. No, I wasn’t beautiful the night I became Rose. Not really. Nor was I beautiful waving from parade floats or signing autographs in the park inTralee. Nor on the TV night when Gay Byrne placed me 32nd of 32 Roses, because he thought my party piece a fitting tribute to all the Roses. No, not then. I wasn’t beautiful until the night when I gave up my crown and handed it to the next girl, Katherine Geary. Because in handing it over, I was continuing the love affair, offering the mythology to the next class of Roses, believing firmly that Beauty is not physical, but lies in the truth in her grace, and in her eyes ever dawning. The Rose of Tralee doesn’t select the most beautiful young woman; the Rose of Tralee creates the most beautiful young woman. Now, I am a long standing member of the Sisterhood of Roses. Some of us are not as skinny or shiny as we once were, a little more gray, a few more wrinkles. But to my sisters, this beautiful bouquet of Roses, these women whose eyes light with grace and truth and Beauty, to you I say this: Time’s bitter flood will rise...your beauty perish and be lost.... for all eyes but these eyes.

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