Rose of Tralee TV review: ‘About as sexy as a plate of Mariettas’

Hilary Fannin: We just don’t seem to be able to get enough of this ‘celebration of Irish women and their achievements’

Germany Rose Kari Foss onstage in the Festival Dome during TV Rose of Tralee Selection on Monday night. “This is not, as the Germany Rose said, ‘a beauty pageant’ – an attorney who also produced a vaguely unintelligible rap for her ‘party piece’.”  Photograph: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

Germany Rose Kari Foss onstage in the Festival Dome during TV Rose of Tralee Selection on Monday night. “This is not, as the Germany Rose said, ‘a beauty pageant’ – an attorney who also produced a vaguely unintelligible rap for her ‘party piece’.” Photograph: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus

 

We were at least 40 minutes into this year’s Rose of Tralee, from de Dome in Tralee, before one of the 35 dewy-lipped contestants, who had made it through an X-Factor-style elimination from an original field of 65 hairsprayed hopefuls, gave us an auld song.

The Ottawa Rose, a sensible girl in an alarmingly flowery dress, produced a sombre minute-and-a-half rendition of Christy Moore’s Ride On, under the benign gaze of host Dáithí Ó Sé, the tune entertaining the many teary mammies and proud daddies and flag-waving grannies scattered under the starry canvas. It was a fitting anthem for a contest now in its 57th year. Ride on, and on and on, and on, the Rose of Tralee does, defying entertainment logic and thumbing its pert little nose at its critics.

Lovely-girlieness

The annual contest of lovely-girlieness appears to go from strength to strength, this year staging a qualifying phase during the first few days of the festival, which allowed for a lot of televised weeping through the waterproof mascara and wringing of manicured hands before the contest proper got on its somewhat underwhelming way.

Despite the event being about as sexy as a plate of Marietta biscuits, we just don’t seem to be able to get enough of this “celebration of Irish women and their achievements”.

This is not, as the Germany Rose said, “a beauty pageant” – an attorney who also produced a vaguely unintelligible rap for her “party piece” (poetry is banned this year, apparently, in an effort to appeal to a younger audience, who have a well-known allergy to rhyming couplets), she wouldn’t want that kind of thing to besmirch her reputation. And, to be fair, whatever the Rose of Tralee is, it ain’t tits and ass. A tapestry of random conversations between young women of Irish ancestry and Ó Sé, a former weatherman from the Kingdom, who hangs on to his Kerry accent like a drowning man to a raft, the festival has its own peculiar fascination.

Nude high heels

We’re only mad for the bevy of back-combed, satin-sash wearing kindergarten teachers and nurses and doctors and bankers and farmers and attorneys who totter towards Dáithí in their nude high heels and sparkly dresses to tell him how proud they are to be in Ireland and how much they love their moms and dads and their cats and all the disadvantaged people in this beautiful world, not to mention the importance of meeting a man who can stir up a decent cup of tea.

Tonight’s extravaganza occasionally deviated from that norm, especially when a man wearing a pair of spectacles over his indignation came running on to the stage with a banner demanding justice for fathers –disturbing the diminutive Cavan Rose in an ivory dress who was waxing lyrical about her strapping boyfriend in the military.

Hazy highlights

Other hazy highlights included a lot of talk about cattle (not the easiest of subjects to squeeze a drop of milky innuendo out of, although there was a gag about them getting their nuts), along with a bongo-playing medic and a scientist from Knocknagree who spent her down-time collecting deer faeces in sandwich bags on the Cork-Kerry border.

Late into the evening, which seemed to go on for months rather than hours, the soporific talk emanating from the taffeta on mindfulness and second chances was blown away by an articulate, samba-dancing Rose from Sydney who got Ó Sé into a bra-like contraption, told him he had a lovely bottom and, as a campaigner for women’s rights in Australia, suggested that Ireland too had a way to go in that area, expressing her support for a referendum on the eighth amendment.

Maybe its time to tighten the intellectual bra straps Dáithí.

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