Abu Dhabi Rose favourite to take the tiara in Tralee tonight

Darwin Rose reveals mother previously kicked out of competition as she had a child

Abu Dhabi Rose Patrice McGillycuddy (r) has been installed as the favourite to win the Rose of Tralee after her performance in the Dome last night. Photograph: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus.

Abu Dhabi Rose Patrice McGillycuddy (r) has been installed as the favourite to win the Rose of Tralee after her performance in the Dome last night. Photograph: Domnick Walsh/Eye Focus.

Tue, Aug 19, 2014, 14:08

Abu Dhabi Rose Patrice McGillycuddy has been installed as the favourite to win the Rose of Tralee after her performance in the Dome last night.

Ms McGillycuddy (26), a teacher in the emirate, has proven a popular figure in the competition as she hails originally from Kilorglin, Co Kerry.

A trained classical singer and former international rower, Ms McGillycuddy’s performance of The Cup Song saw her surge ahead in betting markets.

The North Carolina Rose Nancy Boyce was also a standout performer with a strong sense of self-deprecation. She described herself as a “perfectly refined southern belle, the bigger the hair, the closer to Jesus.”

Announcing her decision to do a food challenge back in the United States, she added: “I’m starving right now, I had to fit into this dress.”

She performed Rock Me Mamma Like a Wagon Wheel even though she described herself as a “mediocre at best” singer.

Her escort Conor Walsh, from Cappamore, Limerick, won the Newbridge Silverware Escort of the Year last night.

The Darwin Rose Natalie Kelly (26) revealed that her own mother was kicked out of the competition because she had a child.

Ms Kelly, who is originally from Cork, said her mother had really wanted to be in the Rose of Tralee though single mothers were banned from the festival until 2008.

She told host Dáithí O’Sé had her mother had been a “very bold Rose” and was “thrown out the back door” at the south of Cork final heats.

The other 14 Roses will appear in the Dome tonight.

The second favourite is the UCD medical student Miriam Smyth, who is the Carlow Rose, while the Cork Rose Anna Geary, the county’s senior camogie captain, is also featuring strongly in the betting. They will both be on stage tonight.

The Leitrim Rose Zara Healy and Kerry Rose Mary Hickey are also being spoken of as among the favourites after strong performances last night.

The winner of the 55th Rose of Tralee will be announced tonight.