Saturday 1 October 2016

'It caused a little bit of upset' - Tears as Rose of Tralee contestants fall victim to massive cull in front of cameras

Published 22/08/2016 | 02:30

Galway Rose Rosie Burke with Kaytlyn O’Connell in the the Bon Secours Hospital Tralee Photo: Domnick Walsh
Galway Rose Rosie Burke with Kaytlyn O’Connell in the the Bon Secours Hospital Tralee Photo: Domnick Walsh
Wexford Rose Sarah-Mai Fitzpatrick with her father Pat a member of the Gardai Band. Roses on parade during yesterdays Rose of Tralee Festival in Tralee, Co Kerry. Photo: Domnick Walsh © Eye Focus LTD

What happens when you stomp all over the dreams of 33 Rose of Tralee hopefuls?

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Why, they do what any good, daycent rose would do - they sing.

Cork Rose Denise Collins waves to the crowd during the parade in Tralee, Co Kerry, yesterday Photo: Domnick Walsh
Cork Rose Denise Collins waves to the crowd during the parade in Tralee, Co Kerry, yesterday Photo: Domnick Walsh

They sing their "lovely and fair" hearts out.

Yesterday, after five days of photocalls and party tricks, the 65 roses were whittled down to 32.

In true 'X Factor' style, the girls were divided into two rooms - in one suite, lucky, lovely ladies were told they were one step closer to wearing the silver-leafed crown.

At the same time in a room across the corridor, 33 less fortunate roses heard that their journey had come to an abrupt end.

Wexford Rose Sarah-Mai Fitzpatrick gets a hug from her father Pat, who is a member of the Garda Band Photo: Domick Walsh
Wexford Rose Sarah-Mai Fitzpatrick gets a hug from her father Pat, who is a member of the Garda Band Photo: Domick Walsh

But rather than scream, stomp their feet or rip off their sashes, they started singing 'The Rose of Tralee' - set to the tune of 'Shut Up and Dance' by Walk the Moon.

Once the sing-song was over, there were, predictably, tears - lots and lots of tears.

All of which was captured on film by an RTÉ camera crew for the documentary 'Road to The Dome'.

It's the first time RTÉ has been allowed film the backstage drama at the Dome - a decision festival director Anthony O'Gara was questioning yesterday.

"It's a double-sided sword," Mr O'Gara said. "It is not the most sensitive of ways to do things. It is something that caused a little bit of upset … We don't want it to become an 'X Factor'. Maybe we can't have our cake and eat it. We'll have to see."

The early morning 'Rose Cull' certainly seems to go against the ethos and earthy goodness of the contest.

Asked if they would be allowed a crew backstage next year, Mr O'Gara said: "We're going to be sensible. We're going to stand back and look at the overall picture."

Toronto Rose Petra O'Toole was one of those to miss out on a place.

"Have I cried? Yes," she said. "It was a difficult process… But what's special is that we all came together and sang a few songs. I played my ukulele and I think that helped break the tension."

But the Roses who did make it through were adamant they would treat their sisters as equals.

"We started as 65 Roses and we will finish as 65 Roses," Cavan Rose Lisa Reilly said defiantly.

Despite the high emotions and gloomy skies, the Roses were determined to make the most of the day and made their way to Mass, calling into St Brendan's, St John's on Castle St and St John's on Ashe Street.

A trip to Kingdom Greyhound Stadium was followed by the parade, which snaked through the main street. "Here they come," one lady said excitedly as the colourful floats jostled along. "Stand up for them, stand up for the Roses."

The Roses waved serenely as they sailed past perched on a variety of ornate platforms including the Star Wars float, the 'Roseacoaster', and the Thomas the Tank Engine float.

No sooner had the parade ended than the Roses were back racing around town shaking hands, signing autographs and posing for photos while piecing together giant jigsaws or watching the Donkey Derby.

Back at the Dome the fashion show was being pulled together by model boss Celia Holman Lee.

By this stage, the Roses were starting to wilt. It had been a long day with plenty of highs and lows. "We've been up since six o'clock," Emma Kirwan said. "And emotions went mad so I'm gathering myself now."

Emma made history by becoming the first Rose to represent Offaly in the Dome.

Now she's focusing on the show tomorrow night: "I'm going to show Dáithí Ó Sé how to hold a hurl. My mam brought one down for me and himself. I'll have to see if the Kerry man knows how to hit a ball," she said.

Irish Independent

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