Winner all right as new Rose parties all night and still looks good next day


The new Rose thought Dáithí Ó Sé was having a laugh when he called her name in the Dome

IT’S IN the unofficial job description. A Rose of Tralee must be able to party all night and emerge by breakfast looking as though she has had her full eight hours in the scratcher.

So in keeping with tradition, London Rose Clare Kambamettu (26) from Co Kildare, the 52nd Rose of Tralee, turned up looking radiant, clear-skinned and sparkly eyed after 1½ hours of sleep yesterday morning.

By 9.30am she was on her fifth appointment of the day. “I went to bed at quarter past five and I’ve been up since before seven so it’s been a hectic couple of hours,” she smiled, her voice hoarse. “I’m just getting used to all this.”

The assistant research psychologist who works at King’s University in London thought Dáithí Ó Sé was having a laugh when he announced her name in the Dome on Tuesday night. “I thought he was messing, then I realised oh, maybe he isn’t.”

Kambamettu’s win made Rose history for a few reasons. It is the first time two Rose centres have won the contest back to back – the London Rose Charmaine Kenny won last year. It is also the first time two Rose of Tralees in a row have come from the same town in Ireland.

Kenny and Kambamettu, who was born in Leeds, both grew up in Athy, Co Kildare, where they went to the same school and shared the same tennis instructor.

“There must be something in the water in Athy,” she said. “It does feel like a huge coincidence but in another way it’s not, Charmaine was one of the main reasons I entered. Looking at all the amazing things she has been able to do over the last few months inspired me and pushed me to apply”.

And another first: Kambamettu is the first Rose of Tralee to have Indian roots. Her father, Dr Ravi Kambamettu, who has a practice in Athy, came to Ireland in 1973 and met her mother, Breda from Kildare, a physiotherapist, in the Merlin Park Hospital in Co Galway. He was introduced to the Rose’s mother as “Dr Ravishing”.

Before he arrived from India, Dr Ravi didn’t know much about Ireland. “I was planning to go to work in America and a friend was working in Galway. He said I might as well visit him in Ireland because all planes stopped in Shannon so I stopped there,” he said. “I thought Ireland was part of England at the time, but he told me Ireland was to the left of England”.

His Indian family back in Hyderabad have no concept of the Rose of Tralee but are all “incredibly proud” of his daughter as is his son, Clare’s older brother Madhu. The bookies made her an early favourite, while some Rose of Tralee lyrics not sung so often hinted that a Rose of Indian origin might one day lift the crown: “In the far fields of India ’mid war’s dreadful thunders, Her voice was solace and comfort to me”.

The win means that finally more people might spell her name right or at least pronounce it correctly.

“Yes, that’s a bonus,” said Kambamettu, “but mostly I am excited about the work I can do with charities in Ireland and in other countries and especially India over the year ahead. So I am really looking forward to that and to getting a little sleep at some point.”

RTÉ and new host Dáithí Ó Sé expressed delight at viewing figures from Tuesday night’s show – 916,300 tuned in for the final part of the programme, an increase of 172,300 on last year and the highest viewing number in more than a decade.