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“She was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer
Yet, ’twas not her beauty alone that won me
Oh no! ‘Twas the truth in her eye ever beaming
That made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee.”
The 53rd annual Rose of Tralee international festival starts today (Friday 17 August), with young women of Irish descent travelling from around the world to County Kerry, Ireland, for what’s described as “a global celebration of Irish culture”. It’s an event that occupies a peculiar place in Irish hearts and minds, loved and loathed in roughly equal measure by the country’s population.
For some, it’s a wonderful expression of Irishness and the values of the diaspora around the world, not to mention a weekend of good old-fashioned ‘craic’. For others, it’s a beauty pageant without the style. The dress code was described (a little cruelly) this week in The Irish Times as “shiny prom chic with a hint of early [1980s US TV show] Dynasty”.
Love it or loathe it though, you cannot ignore it. For the next four days, Irish TV will feature wall-to-wall coverage – which means big branding opportunities for sponsors, which this year include Dublin Airport Authority and its retail brand The Loop.
The Loop will be featured throughout the festival and as part of the sponsorship, five Roses visited The Loop at Dublin Airport earlier this week (pictured).
Not only will DAA feature on our screens in coming days though, but so too will Director of Retail Paul Neeson. He’s a man well known to many in the travel retail community, but he’s about to become known to the million or so peak-time ‘Rose’ viewers through national station RTE in coming days. For Paul has landed one of the most sought after roles in Ireland’s annual light entertainment calendar: he’s one of the judges in the Rose of Tralee contest.
It’s no easy task: the contestants are beautifully turned out, well spoken, and are consistently (some would say annoyingly) nice to and about each other – and importantly – about their mammies.
We wish Paul well with his deliberations amid the sequins and tiaras. Oh, and if fancy a flutter, The Moodie Report is tipping the Dublin Rose (heavily backed in recent days and now into 11/4), with the Mayo Rose always a good each way bet.