Galway man Jacques Chahin (28) has temporarily put his work as a farrier on hold to participate as an escort at the prestigious Rose of Tralee festival. Born to American-raised parents in California’s east bay area in 1995, Jacques moved to Ireland with his family at the age of 10 after a devastating house fire destroyed their home. His maternal grandparents, Anthony and Mary Kelly, originally met and married in San Francisco in 1960. Anthony, who farmed for a landlord near Loughrea, Co. Galway as a young teenager, eventually purchased the same farm over 40 years later after making his fortune in the US.
During his summer visits to Ireland, Jacques’ grandfather taught him and his brother, Declan, everything he knew about farming. Jacques developed a deep admiration for his grandfather and the rural way of life. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science from the University of Galway, Jacques briefly worked in the medical device industry in Colorado. However, he felt unfulfilled in the corporate world and decided to pursue his passion for horses by undertaking an apprenticeship in farriery.
Farriery, Jacques explains, involves optimizing the biomechanics of horses and treating lameness. He finds the trade meaningful and satisfying, particularly when he is able to correct the leg deformities of foals and give them a chance at a healthy life. Jacques firmly believes in the saying “No hoof, no horse,” and strives to save the lives of foals with crooked legs or bad feet through his skill as a farrier. Despite his love for horses, Jacques admits that deep down, he will always be a cattle man. He has a particular fascination with the Scottish Highland breed and dreams of starting his own Highland “fold.” Recently, Jacques and his family acquired a purebred Highland bull, whom they named Juan due to his tag number being 001.
When Jacques isn’t working with animals, he enjoys sea swimming and engaging in outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing, and skiing. However, he finds planting flowers, hedges, and trees in his garden to be the most enjoyable and relaxing pastime. Growing up, Jacques and his family would watch the Rose of Tralee together. Although his mother, aunties, and grandmother would jokingly tell him that he would make a good escort one day, Jacques never considered it seriously due to his aversion to being on television. However, after experiencing a romantic breakup earlier this year, he decided to seize the opportunity.
During the festival, Jacques will be escorting the Mayo Rose, Kate Heneghan. He describes her as a delightful, poised, and accomplished young lady in traditional and classical music. Jacques admits that many men envy his position and expresses his hope that Kate will be crowned The Rose of Tralee, as she is an outstanding ambassador for Irish females. Reflecting on his experience so far, Jacques describes it as unreal and emphasizes the unique opportunity the festival provides to meet highly educated, talented, and ambitious individuals who share wholesome values. He believes that participating in the Rose of Tralee offers the chance to make lifelong friends and memories, and he wholeheartedly recommends the experience to other men.