Helena Rafferty BOSTON
Helena Rafferty Findlen became Rose of Tralee in 1985 representing Boston, and was the second Boston Rose to win the title
At the time I was 18, and being honoured with the title meant that I could come to Ireland more to visit my friends and relatives who I just really enjoyed spending time with. Obviously, my parents wanted me to get my degree and a job, but this bought me some time to visit with their blessing! Not to mention that it brought me a nickname - from 1985 until now: family members call me “Rosie”.
After the Festival I came home and attended university in pursuit of a teaching degree. I left that after a year and back packed around Europe with my cousin from Monaghan. I came back home and took the police entrance exam in 1988, and graduated in 1989. I am now a Police Lieutenant on the Canton, Massachusetts Police Department, second in command of a 50 plus officer department.
I am also President of Cops For Kids With Cancer (CopsForKidsWithCancer.org), and we partner with An Garda Síochána in this endeavor. Being a mother of four healthy children, I am passionate about this cause. Police officers choose their profession and more often than not can see the enemy they are fighting. This is obviously not the case for the children battling this disease. They are my heroes!
I have been married for nearly 17 years to Michael Findlen and we have four children: Declan Vincent (12), Aidan Michael (10), Colin Rafferty (5), and Breslin Reilly (4). My Dad, who was born in Donegal and was the son of a Garda himself passed away in 1998 at age 60. My son’s three middle names spell out his full name (Vincent Michael Rafferty). My husband is a Lieutenant/Paramedic on the Fire Department in the town where we live.
There is no one thing that I can put my finger on and say that is my favorite memory of the Festival. I had the wonderful honour to meet the hearing impaired gardener at Cork City Hall (Donal O’Leary) and for a few years we were pen pals. I got to meet incredible young women who each had something about them that transferred to me and made me the person I am today. I had a great time being treated like a queen, the kindness from so many, especially our chaperones, Ted Keane and the rest of the committee. I had a terrific escort (Derek Vard from Dublin). I really enjoyed my time with both the judges and Gay Byrne - although I was nervous on TV - he managed to put me at ease and gave me the gift of such a wonderful memory. The announcement of my name was a shock to say the least!
When I returned to Newbliss, Co. Monaghan, my relatives and friends had a huge celebration in my honor. That was fantastic-to have so many people who were so important to me together in one place. Every single detail is a cherished and favorite memory. I have such gratitude to everyone involved for allowing me the privilege of being the 1985 Rose of Tralee.