“What being Irish is”: Clare Rose thanks Feakle for support after double tragedy

Clare Rose, Aisling O’Connor, brought the festival’s co-presenter and many viewers to tears last night as she thanked her close-knit parish during her appearance on the Rose of Tralee for the tremendous support her parents’ tragic deaths.

She said that the people of Feakle in Co Clare had made sure that she and her five brothers had “never been alone” after they tragically lost both of their parents within just four years of each other.

In fact, friends and neighbours even strapped a fridge to the gate of their family home so that food and supplies could be left for the siblings after their beloved parents Pat and Denise died in separate tragedies.

The young teacher explained that: ‘My parish is extremely dear to me. We’ve had a tough couple of years and the community has really been there for us.”

“I suppose our story started in 2004, my mom was pregnant with number six and got her first breast cancer diagnosis. At that time the diagnosis was really bad and she really wasn’t given much of a chance,” she explained.

‘With so much determination and defiance she completely beat the odds and was with us all through our childhood and saw us grow up. We lived a really happy, normal life, right up until 2018 when our world completely stopped. We lost our dad in a tragic accident.

‘We were reeling, the community surrounded us and kept us really close at this time. It impacted all of us, but it impacted mam probably deeper than the rest of us. In 2020 our world stopped again, mam got her second diagnosis and fought the most incredible, determined fight, right up until 2021 when she passed with all of us around her,’ she said.

Host Kathryn Thomas said: “When you think of Irish communities, and you think of the word ‘community,’ you told me there was even a fridge strapped to a gate post at the end of your lane because they wanted to give you space while making sure they looked after you.”

‘When you think about the Rose of Tralee, it’s about celebrating Irishness and what it means to be Irish… I feel really lucky in a way because we’ve never been alone. From 2021, there’s been a dinner outside the gate every day, there’s been vouchers, bags of shopping, electricity bills paid and always someone on the end of the phone.

‘We’re very much supported, never alone and they love us almost as much as love all of them,’ she said.

“None of this is about them, for them, it’s about supporting us. They never want a thanks, there’s never a name at the bottom of a card or anything like that. They do it for us and to support us. I think that’s what being Irish is. It’s a no man left behind community spirit and it’s truly remarkable.

“Myself and my five brothers, this experience has given me a chance to acknowledge and thank them so deeply. Everybody thank you,” she said to sustained applause.

And she let the audience know that some of her brothers were single.

‘It’s really safe to say everyone in the parish will testily we have the cleanest kitchen. That’s the five boys. They cook, clean, mow the lawn and do it all. A couple of them are single,’ she said, laughing. .

Aisling is the eldest of six children, and an older sister to brothers Patrick, Eoin, Liam, Rónán and Oisín.

An outpouring of admiration and support was seen on social media after the interview.

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