There is excitement in Ireland at the moment and in Irish communities throughout the world. It is time for the annual Rose of Tralee International Festival, where one lucky girl will be crowned the Rose of Tralee 2017. The Rose of Tralee festival is renowned throughout world and is not only celebrated in Tralee Co Kerry it is celebrated in Irish communities all over the world. It is considered a huge honor to represent your community in this prestigious competition.
This is one of the most important and popular events in the Irish social calendar and is possibility second only in popularity to the St Patrick’s Day parade. The Rose of Tralee festival started as a local event in 1959 and was run by some local businessmen who, were hoping to bring more tourists to this area of County Kerry.
The Rose of Tralee festival is now celebrated in mid August every year.
In the beginning of it life, The Rose of Tralee only allowed local girls to enter the competition, it then it expanded to allow girls from Co Kerry, and it is now open to girls from all over the world as long as you are of Irish ancestry. The Roses now come from the United States, Canada, Australia and many other countries.
The festival is said to be connected to the old famous Irish song The Rose of Tralee that was written about a local girl named Mary O’Connor. Mary was a kitchen maid to a wealthy Protestant family. It was love at first sight for the son William Pembroke Mulchinoc. At that time it was unheard of for a kitchen maid to have anything to do with gentry.
They met in secret and eventually William was convinced to leave Ireland but never got over Mary. He returned to Ireland several years later during the Great Famine to find Mary had died of TB. Mary was buried in Clogherbien Grave Yard on the Fenit Road outside Tralee. William asked to be buried beside Mary.
The festival has brought millions of people to the area over its many years. Irish communities all over the world come together to celebrate our wonderful and unique Irish culture. In Tralee the festival has family entertainment, music concerts and International Rose of Tralee is chosen at the famous Tralee Dome over two nights. A spectacular fireworks display ends the festival with the new Rose taking pride of place.
Roses are chosen from around the world and arrive in Ireland weeks before the festival. The rose of Tralee is not just a beauty pageant. The Rose picked has to represent the characteristics of Mary in the song. The average age of a Rose is 24. Physical beauty does not make a Rose of Tralee. She is chosen on her personality and the beauty of her heart.
A week before the festival begins the roses spend a week touring Ireland’s on the Rose of Tralee bus, they visit some of Ireland’s most historic and cultural sites. They visit sites such
The National Museum in Dublin that contains some of Irelands,
Most important and precious Celtic and historical treasures. They also visit the Guinness Store House in Dublin and the world famous Rock of Cashel in Country Tipperary. They spend one night in Kinsale, County Cork that is renowned as the food capital of Ireland. The spectacular drive around the beautiful Ring of Kerry is a must on this Historic tour of Ireland.
The Roses are each given an Escort who looks after them for the duration of the festival. The escorts have to be born in Ireland and must be between the ages of 21 to 31 and unmarried. They have to apply and if they are accepted they have to make a subscription of 1500 euro.
When they are accepted the go to a special boot camp which sees them completing tasks such as cycling over the Connor pass in Kerry, hiking up Mount Brandon, kayaking, surfing, sewing and ironing. This is a team building exercise. Concerts have to be attended and they have to look smart and be there for the Rose through all aspects of the Rose of Tralee. Every whim of their Rose has to be attended to and they have to be courteous and polite. Some of the escorts have married their Rose.
Many Roses have gone on to achieve great and wonderful things in life. Noreen Culhane the 1970 Rose is now Executive Vice President of the New York stock exchange. The 1996 Rose starred in blockbusters such as Star wars, Revenge of the Sith and The Matrix Reloaded. Love blossomed for the The New Jersey Rose and she married Daithi Ó Se who now hosts the International Rose of Tralee. One year the New Orleans Rose was proposed to on stage. The winner of the Rose of Tralee is an ambassador for Ireland and will travel the world.
Image Credit © https://www.roseoftralee.ie/