Daithi factor brings cash and crowds to Kingdom
Organisers hoping to hit record 1 million viewers for Rose festival
KERRY is bracing itself for record crowds and revenue at the 2010 Rose of Tralee festival thanks to the 'Daithi Factor'.
The festival -- which began in 1959 -- will this year be hosted for the first time by a Kerryman, with TG4 weatherman and proud Dingle native Daithi O Se admitting he cannot wait for the cameras to begin rolling on Monday night.
Festival managing director Anthony O'Gara said that the Rose event continued to be "a cornucopia of carnival, fun, gala, events, exciting concerts, free street entertainment, fun fairs, parades, fireworks, circus and, most importantly, a rousing welcome from the people of Tralee".
That mix is still a potent tourism cocktail -- as virtually every hotel in Tralee is now booked out.
Last year, the peak TV audience reached almost 900,000 viewers -- and festival organisers are hoping they can reach the magic one million mark on Tuesday night.
For O Se, hosting the Rose of Tralee is a lifelong dream come true.
"It is a huge honour for me -- it is a show I've watched all my life and a festival that I have been very proud to have worked with for a good few years now," he said.
Daithi joins a list of previous hosts and selection chairmen, which included Sir Terry Wogan and Gay Byrne.
"I suppose being from Kerry does bring its own pressures but I just couldn't wait for this year's festival to start," he said.
Tralee's mayor, Councillor Arthur Spring, stressed that the Rose festival continued to serve as an international shop window, not just for Kerry, but for Irish tourism itself.
"It is a unique event when our town takes centre stage at the forefront of Irish culture on the global stage to celebrate all that embodies our proud Irish heritage," he said.
However, for the 32 Roses who are now competing to win the prized tiara from 2009 Rose Charmaine Kenny, it is a non-stop mix of parties, balls, parades and autograph- signing sessions.
Boston Rose Deirdre Keane said it was her dream to become a Rose -- with her mother a proud Kerrywoman.
The festival runs until Wednesday with the 2010 Rose of Tralee being confirmed on Tuesday night in the Dome arena beside the Carlton Hotel.
The bookies reckon that, after an overseas winner last year, an Irish Rose is favourite to wear the tiara on Tuesday night. BetPack.com make stunning Down Rose Gemma Murphy the outright favourite to take the title at odds of 11/2.
However, she is very closely followed by Carlow Rose Jessica Adamson and Kerry Rose Veronica Hunt at odds of 6/1. Veronica -- a teacher at Mercy Mounthawk secondary school -- already boasts a legion of local supporters.
Because last year's winner hailed from London, this year's London Rose Clare Kambamettu is rated at odds of 25/1 to bring the crown back to the UK.