By Sarah Mac Donald - 26 August, 2015
“I have great faith and I wanted to give something back and to give thanks."
The new Rose of Tralee is a St Jean Baptiste stagiaire and volunteered with sick pilgrims in Lourdes as recently as July.
Twenty-two-year-old Elysha Brennan from Bettystown is a medical student at the Royal College of Surgeons.
A past pupil of Franciscan College Gormanston in Co Meath, she graduated with a student of the year medal.
She was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a form of leukaemia in 2012, while re-sitting her Leaving Certificate.
She decided to put her hat into the ring for the Rose of Tralee following her successful battle against cancer. Elysha Brennan is now over two years in remission.
When she was first diagnosed, her mother began a novena to St Therese of Lisieux, whose signature symbol is a rose, and this inspired Elysha to put the Rose of Tralee on her ‘to do’ list for when she got better.
“I have great faith and I wanted to give something back and to give thanks,” she explained of her commitment to the sick in Lourdes.
The Hospitalité Notre Dame de Lourdes (HNDL) is a Catholic religious confraternity under the spiritual authority of the Bishop of Tarbes and Lourdes.
A period of service with the Hospitalité Notre-Dame de Lourdes is known as a ‘Stage’.
The name ‘Stage’ comes from the French for ‘work experience’. Those on Stage are often known as ‘stagiaires’ or more recently ‘hospitaliters auxiliaries’.
Ahead of her selection as the 2015 Rose of Tralee, Elysha Brennan explained that she had been involved with musical theatre from an early age, and had a passion for song and dance.
She has also taken part in the Olympia Theatre Dublin Christmas pantomimes and a Michael Jackson tribute show.
“I made a bucket list two years ago and am slowly ticking things off, including visiting the Statue of Liberty in New York, Greek island hopping and now becoming the Meath Rose,” she said.