Winning Rose still blooming the next morning


The top Rose was still as sweet despite little sleep, as she began her year of ‘La Vie en Rose’

IT WOULD be great, journalistically speaking, to report that on the morning after being crowned the 53rd Rose of Tralee, Luxembourg Rose Nicola McEvoy staggered into the media room at the Carlton Hotel in a crumpled hoodie, swigging from a two-litre bottle of Coke. It would also be great, journalistically speaking, to report that the 26-year-old teacher and I then came to blows over who got to have the last Alka-Seltzer, while Dáithí Ó Sé chanted “Fight! Fight!” and a Rosebud wept.

Sadly I cannot do this, because the beautiful Cork-born brunette arrived for our interview looking fresh as a daisy in a Phase Eight dress, despite having had just an hour and a half’s sleep.

She spent most of the night, she says, talking to her proud parents Mike and Mary (Nicola’s an only child) and her boyfriend of seven years, Eamonn Dunne. When she woke, she says she “looked over at the other bed and there was the beautiful crown and I thought ‘God I wasn’t dreaming at all!’”

McEvoy, smiling in the Kerry sunlight, even has the presence of mind to protectively wave a bee from my face.

The night before, McEvoy had been swarmed by journalists and photographers who instantly forgot the other 31 Roses.

“I’m completely shocked to be quite honest with you,” she told the throng. “I didn’t expect it. There were so many fantastic girls up on the stage for the past few nights. I’m so happy. I’m thrilled.”

She loved the parade, “the bit of banter with Dáithí” and singing La Vie en Rose. She joked that Eamonn, her Blarney-born boyfriend, had always wanted to be an escort. She was then asked to sing a few more bars of La Vie en Rose, and might have done it too if not for the pesky festival organisers who whisked her away.

Ó Sé, as promised, was nowhere to be seen. (“As soon as the second verse of that song [The Rose of Tralee] the dickie-bow comes off and I’m off somewhere!” he had said with an ominous glint in his eye).

At the bar the effects of prolonged exposure to the Rose of Tralee began taking its toll on me. Roses and escorts mingled with former roses and escorts, the families of roses and escorts, and fans of roses and escorts – and in a scene reminiscent of the final pages of Animal Farm, I could no longer tell them apart.

The next morning in the lobby, a crowd including festival organisers, escorts and at least one rose were still revelling. Ties had been loosened, high heels discarded and a man in a dinner jacket was serenading some ladies with a very rude song. To be fair, he had a lovely voice.

And two hours later the new Rose spoke of the year ahead: a gruelling schedule of being pretty and accomplished and a good ambassador for Ireland.

McEvoy’s first official act was to give prizes at Tralee Golf Club. It will be a year of waving, smiling and being delightful. And, I suppose, why not?


AN AVERAGE of 688,500 viewers watched the final of the Rose of Tralee contest on Tuesday, according to Tam Ireland figures released by RTÉ. The Kerry pageant attracted 45 per cent of the total number of people watching television at the time.

This is the lowest ratings and audience share recorded by the show in at least eight years, according to data contained in RTÉ’s annual reports since 2005.

The ratings were down significantly on the 829,000 viewers who watched the 2011 final and the 916,000 viewers who watched in 2010, when it was the third most watched programme on Irish television.

This year’s show is only the second time during this period that the audience share for the final night of the contest has dipped below 50 per cent.

RTÉ said the crowning of Luxembourg Rose Nicola McEvoy had proved “to be a hit with viewers”, with the audience peaking at 892,000 at 11.14 pm, as the result was announced. - LAURA SLATTERY