Boyfriend Kyle takes a gamble on Molly as Roses stay on message
Impervious to irony, and terrifying in their positivity, the Roses still impress
Boyfirend Kyle Catlett proposes to his girlfriend the New Orleans rose Molly Molloy Gambel live on stage during last nights Rose of Tralee
So there’s Dáithí Ó Sé in a mardi-gras outfit, looking like a member of George Clinton’s funk band, grooving alongside mask-wearing New Orleans lady Molly Molloy Gambel.
Then out comes Molly Molloy’s boyfriend Kyle Catlett and asks her to marry him on front of around half a million people. “No, no, no!” she said, before saying “yes” (“I was saying no because I couldn’t believe it was happening,” she said afterwards).
But that’s just the most newsworthy part of the evening. Now Daithi’s watching Leitrim woman Edwina Guckian whip part of her dress off (not quite Bucks Fizz-style) in order to dance energetic sean-nós with a barrel and a brush. And now he’s being given a certificate of Newfoundland citizenship by Erica Halfyard after kissing a fish and quaffing a shot of rum.
Tragic tubercular maid
Dáithí probably calls this “a typical Monday” but the rest of us call it the Rose of Tralee, an annual explosion of bizarro-loveliness in which 32 young ladies from across the diaspora (“a sort of positive disease” as Alan Partridge recently explained the word) vie to be named after a tragic tubercular 19th-century maid.
It’s kind of amazing – 2,000 family members, escorts, judges, ex-Roses and ex-escorts wave banners and cheer as 18 Roses chat amiably, recite poetry, sing emigrant ballads and Disney songs and play light classical piano.
Performances have titles like Destination Donegal and I am Kerry (guess which Roses did which). None have titles like Laois is a Hole or Get me out of Drogheda!
Last year Daisy the cow got stage fright (Dáithí was going to milk her live). This year Clare Rose Marie Donnellan, who confidently emerged to the theme of Father Ted (the festival is impervious to mockery), shows us a safer “picture” of a cow given as a present by her wellie-wearing escort.
“But what he doesn’t realise is that we’ll be down with a trailer to collect the calf.”
Monaghan’s Eleanor McQuaid emerges with a hurl and a shinty stick to teach Dáithí the difference (“Is it wise to give him a weapon?” a crew member whispers at rehearsal). Later a bed is brought to the stage, Darwin Rose Bridget Haines dons spectacles, and Dáithí is regaled with a bedtime story, The Cranky Bear. She promises to take him back to childhood.
“Don’t open that can of worms!” a nation shouts at the telly.
Everyone I meet in Tralee fondly recall past festivals. Dáithí himself has teenage memories of “sleeping eight or nine of us in someone’s sitting room” or “getting a bus back to Dingle at three in the morning with everyone drunk.”
The mother of a Rosebud tells me about “a huge tent filled with jockeys who used to stay out the back of my uncle’s house” .