Fiona Weir, a nurse at Boston Medical Center and a resident of Dorchester was presented as the 2023 Rose of Tralee for Boston and New England at the Irish Cultural Centre of Boston on May 13. She was selected for the honor from a pool of 14 candidates by a panel of judges and will represent the Irish community in her home city and across the six-state region at the esteemed Rose of Tralee International Festival in Ireland’s County Kerry in late summer.
One of the three judges of the event summarized their deliberations this way: “We were impressed by every woman we spoke with today, and every one of them would have been a fabulous representative of Boston and New England in Ireland this summer. Our stand-out contestant was Fiona, whose connection to Ireland, commitment to compassionate care through her nursing job at BMC, and touching relationship with her grandmother won us over. She will be an outstanding contestant at the International Festival, and we’ll be eagerly watching and hoping for her to bring the crown home.”
The 23-year-old Weir will travel to her grandparents’ home in August for the week-long festival, which is billed as a “global celebration of Irish culture.” Her participation in one of Ireland’s most celebrated events will feature her showcasing her Irish heritage through step dancing and sharing stories passed down to her by her grandmother, Roseleen Weir, who serves as her granddaughter’s biggest inspiration.
“I am so honored and excited to be able to represent the Boston Irish community in Tralee this summer,” Weir told the Reporter. “I have always wanted to join the Rose of Tralee [community], and after years of reading about the inspirational women who take part in the festivities, I decided it was something I, too, wanted to be a part of.”
Weir’s sense of her Irishness has a clearly drawn significance in her life. Her grandmother emigrated from Ireland’s Co. Leitrim and faced various challenges upon arriving in Boston that she has shared with her granddaughter.
Fiona Weir, right, with her grandmother Roseleen, who is a native of Co. Leitrim, Ireland.
Photo courtesy Weir family
Those deep roots drove Weir’s interests from a young age. She dedicated herself to fiddle lessons and Irish dancing that stirred her passion for Irish music, dance, and a sense of community over the years, which included time as a student at Boston Collegiate Charter School.
Her nursing responsibilities at BMC are focused on providing healthcare to the city’s homeless population, a segment of the city’s population that she knows well. During her high school years, she served for four years on former Mayor Martin Walsh’s Boston Youth Council.
Weir calls the backing of her neighbors in Adams Corner overwhelming. “My Dorchester community has shown an outpouring of support through positive messages, words of encouragement, and luck that makes me so excited to represent them,” she said. “From phone calls to taking pictures with neighbors, I know that heading over to Tralee in the summer, I will have the best group of people rooting for me from just over 3,000 miles away.”
Her father, Sean Weir, describes the Rose of Tralee contest as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for someone like his daughter to represent Boston and New England.
“I sincerely hope that they have a truly enjoyable experience. I also hope that the overwhelming pressures that seem to exist these days, where everyone feels the weight of expectations and obligations, do not overshadow their ability to fully embrace this unique moment in their lives. This is a one-time opportunity. Enjoy it while you are present in it,” said Weir, who also expressed his gratitude to Dermot and Cindy Quinn from Greenhills Bakery for their support of Fiona’s quest.
For her part, Fiona hopes her experience will inspire women everywhere to seize their own opportunities. “You won’t know until you try, so just go for it!
“Leading up to, and following, my time in Tralee, I hope to continue giving back to the Irish community by attending local benefit dances and participating in parades and other summer festivals. I aim to raise awareness and recognition for the Rose not only in Boston and New England, but also at a national level,” she said.