By Mary Kay Marmo
I have been very fortunate to meet some wonderful people in Tralee, Ireland during my ten years going back and forth with our Chicago Roses. The people of Tralee are very kind, warm and you instantly feel like you are a part of their family the moment you meet them. During the festival everyone in Tralee opens their arms to welcome the travelers from all over the world for the seven-day festival, two-night televised event. I do not know if there is anything that can quite compare to this experience. During my last visit, I met one of Ireland’s top designers, and this extremely talented woman so happens to live in Tralee. Now, here is the GREAT news. She has offered to design and GIVE our 2017 Chicago Rose FIVE gowns, along with headpieces and a personalized Aran Sweater for her tour and stage presentation for August, 2017!
Here is a bit about Rebekah Wall and her story:
“My Nana "Sarah Murphy" began my journey with me and taught me to sew and knit when I was knee height and it was here by the fire side she instilled her values in me as she wove her stories of Ireland and childhood into my soul. As I stitched she watched over me guiding my hand and spoke about the hunger to belong and the search for great adventures by so many Irish in America. She spoke about the heart of Ireland breaking into the sea with all those who left her shores for a better life and how so many traditions, stories and songs had been lost now never to be heard again. Somewhere in the dim of that evening light a seed was planted to keep her stories alive, to remember her every word that I might tell my children.”
“While the stories are so important it is her guiding hands I follow every day in every button and pearl I sew. The fall of the fabric, the shape of the stitch and the wool that runs through my fingers. Such wool I helped gather as my grandfather sheared sheep under the baking July sun and later bounced on as a child in the shed. Today it is my love of land and family that has led me home to create pieces of what I call Art. These art pieces take many forms but all created from the Irish land where the sheep graze, where still on my grandfathers farm they are shorn every July and the wool taken to market.”
Rebekah is now creating pieces of work and will be creating one of these lovely sweaters for our Chicago Rose as well! She goes on to add, “The wool is bought by a 300 year old mill in Kerry and the Aran sweater is created in the identity stitches of families that once inhabited our coastline. It is here where i marry the old with the new world and stitch the pearls of wisdom and crystal so once again our stories will shine anew. These Aran Sweaters say who we are without having to speak. My designs are tailored, personal, unique and special to each lovely Irish woman that wears them. When creating this art, I am inviting you to be part of a story, a movement to remember the strong and amazing women of Ireland that created a story in the form of a Sweater, to be told for generations and generations to come.”
“Every bead and pearl I sew is hand stitched and my designs include evening gowns, tailored suits, coats, capes and hats. Part of me feels like this journey is the next part of the story as it is America that inspired the spirit of adventure in so many Irish, a land where so many diaspora now call home. I am honored to be creating these gowns, this Aran Sweater and headpieces for the next 2017 Chicago Rose of Tralee.”
So ladies, don’t forget to get your Preliminary applications in! The Chicago Rose of Tralee Selection will be held on Saturday, April 8th at Ridge Country Club in Chicago. To submit your application, please go to: www.chicagoroseoftralee.com.