Budding Roses ready to vie for crown


THIRTY-TWO Roses from all corners of the globe will battle it out for the Rose of Tralee title over the next two days following a hectic weekend in which around 20,000 people took to the streets of the Kerry town for the International Rose Parade.

The two-day festival broadcast, which gets under way on RTÉ this evening, will be hosted for the first time by a Kerryman, TG4 weatherman and judge on the All Ireland Talent Show Dáithí Ó Sé.

The Rose parade on Denny Street in Tralee on Saturday evening was followed by a spectacular fireworks display.

The festivities yesterday included a fashion show at the festival dome and performances in the town by Brendan Shine and the Coronas.

The hosting of the festival is a dream come true for Ó Sé who admits he has big boots to fill given the acclaim received by former hosts Gay Byrne, Marty Whelan, Derek Davis, Ryan Tubridy and Ray D’Arcy.

However, festival communications manager John Drummey, says the Dingle native is more than qualified to take his place along previous hosts.

“He [Dáithí’s] a great character and a through gentleman and he knows the format and the programme inside out.

“Over the years he has been a judge for the festival and has been involved in Rose selections for Kerry and Dubai.”

The weekend involved playful exchanges between the Cork and Dublin Roses as they geared up for the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship semi-final between their respective counties in Croke Park yesterday.

Dublin Rose Niamh Sherlock and her Cork counterpart Laura Mitchell were decked out in their county colours yesterday for the duration of the match, which saw Dublin dramatically edged out in the dying minutes.

The last few days have also involved a “getting to know you” process between the entrants and their escorts. Among the 32 escorts are Shane Reynolds from Cavan whose cousin Geraldine O’Grady is the 1999 Rose of Tralee, Gareth McGreevy from Belfast is the president of the Queens University students union and William McGrath from Kildare whose passion in life is magic.

Last year a peak of 885,000 viewers tuned in to see Charmaine Kenny crowned the 51st Rose of Tralee. The 26-year-old London Rose and Trinity College graduate is originally from Athy in Co Kildare.

RTÉ presenter Mary Kennedy is a judge for the third year and she is joined on the panel by 2000 Rose of Tralee Róisín Egenton, Capt Mike Edgeworth, chief executive of the Pilot Training Agency, and chairman of the panel Michael Kearney.

Rose of Tralee fans from around the globe will be able to watch the competition live online and support their local Rose. RTÉ will be streaming the Rose of Tralee live over the next two nights at rte.ie/live. Last year more than 18,000 live streams were recorded over the two nights.