BEVERLY — Maggie McEldowney of Beverly was named the 2016 Rose of Tralee Tuesday evening in County Kerry, Ireland, taking home the top honor at the wildly-popular pageant followed by Irish communities around the globe.
McEldowney, 27, works as a director of development at Marist High School in Mount Greenwood. She graduated from the Catholic school at 4200 W. 115th St. in 2007 and later from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.
McEldowney was named the 2016 Chicago Rose of Tralee May 15 at Chicago Gaelic Park in south suburban Oak Forest. She then advanced to the Rose of Tralee International Festival, which includes a televised pageant that's one of the top 5 most viewed events in Ireland.
McEldowney's crowning follows Maeve McSweeney of West Beverly, who won the Chicago title in 2015. McSweeney also competed in the international pageant in 2014 and 2015, advancing to the international round last year.
The daughter of Jim and Joanne McEldowney, Maggie McEldowney's grandmother, Brigid O’Neill, was born in Maghera, Co. Derry, according to the Irish Times. Her grandfather was also from Derry, she told the host of the pageant.
McEldowney was the first contestant to be featured as part of the televised show. McSweeney could be seen cheering in the crowd as the newest Chicago Rose was asked about her days caddying at Ridge Country Club in Beverly and later winning the Chick Evans Caddie Scholarship.
"It's hard to put into words what has happened in the last 12 days," she told the host of the pageant just ahead of receiving a video message from her boyfriend, Chicago fireman.
"The Irish community in Chicago is alive and well," she said.
The Rose of Tralee International Festival is one of Ireland's largest and longest running festivals, celebrating 57 years in 2016. Besides the pageant, the festival also includes street entertainment, a carnival, live concerts, theater, circus acts, markets, fireworks and parades.
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