The words ‘beauty pageant’ might conjure up thoughts of Miss World or Miss Universe. In Ireland, though, we do things differently
The Rose of Tralee International Festival is up there with the best of pageants. It has the talented contestants, the handsome escorts and a glamourous venue.
Better yet – it lasts for a week.
Lest we forget, the Hollywood version of pageants (Drop Dead Gorgeous, Beauty Girl and Little Miss Sunshine) remind us that these contests aren’t always about beauty and style – personality matters.
And there’s bucket loads of it at the Rose of Tralee. All the action takes place in the town eponymous Kerry town where locals have turned personality into an art form.
With that in mind, it’s out with the swimsuit round and in with singing, dancing, poetry reading and, if you’re lucky, rapping. The Roses are required to showcase and that most envied Irish ability – the gift of the gab.
It’s safe to say that the ROT has changed over the years. In fact, it was only in the early 1960s that the entry criteria changed from being a Tralee native to being a Kerrywoman. By 1967 women with Irish ancestry became eligible.
And so here we are today celebrating one of the biggest and most loved events in Ireland and The Gathering Ireland’s festival year.
From 14 - 20 August 2013, Rosemania will descend on Tralee. The International Rose Ball heralds the beginning of the festival and is open to the public including the Roses and their escorts. The streets of Tralee will be filled with live musical performances, market stalls, parades and fireworks all week long.
Come the 19 of August, 32 finalists will appear on stage at the Dome over two days of competition. Be assured, they’re travelling to Tralee from all corners of the globe – Abu Dhabi, Germany, USA, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, New Zealand and, of course, various towns and villages in Ireland.
After showcasing their talents and chatting with the host, Daithí O’Shea, the Roses must wait for the judges’ final decision. Once that decision has been made, reigning Rose Nicola McEvoy, who represented Luxembourg, will hand over her well-earned crown to the 2013 winner.
The Rose Gathering
This is the festival’s 54th year and since it’s part of The Gathering Ireland, events will have an extra celebratory edge. The Rose Gathering will also be taking place over the week and repeat visitors are encouraged to sign up and join in the host of events planned, including free concerts, ceilís and music and food festivals.
Did you know?
For those of you who don’t know, the Rose of Tralee is nothing if not quirky. To celebrate that, here’s some of our favourite Rose of Tralee trivia:
- The festival is named after a 19th century ballad written about Mary, whose beauty was like the Rose of Tralee – of course!
- The 1984 Rose of Tralee, Diane Hannagen (Limerick), was declared an Honorary Citizen of Arlington, Mass., USA and 27 March each year is “Diane Hannagen Day”!
- BBC’s sports broadcaster Gabby Logan was the 1991 Leeds Rose.
- The 1996 Adelaide Rose, Genevieve O’Reilly, went on to star in blockbuster movies Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions.
- The current host Daithí O’Shea first met his wife, Rita Talty, on stage when she was the 2008 New Jersey Rose.
- There is an actual rose named The Rose of Tralee. Sam McGredy bred and registered the Rose of Tralee rose and presented rose bushes to Tralee, which still grow in the town park.
So which Rose will you be cheering on?