It's London calling - again - as Rose Clare is pick of the bunch
STUNNING London Rose Clare Kambamettu was last night crowned the 2010 Rose of Tralee.
Clare (26) -- who lives in London but was born in Leeds and raised in Kildare -- proved a hugely popular winner as she received the prized Newbridge Silverware tiara from 2009 Rose Charmaine Kenny in front of a sell-out 2,000 strong crowd in the Tralee Dome.
Clare made history for London last night by making it the first Rose to successfully defend the title, with Charmaine having won the title for the UK capital last year.
Clare is a psychologist and was cheered on by a huge contingent who travelled from London, Kildare and Galway to support her.
Her father, Ravi, is a doctor who met her mother, Breda, when they were both working at Merlin Park Hospital.
Clare is a lifelong animal welfare activist.
She was later given an escort of honour through the packed Tralee streets to a special presentation before the huge crowd by the Denny Street stage.
As well as her Rose of Tralee tiara, Clare received a perpetual trophy, a unique range of cutlery, Newbridge jewellery, a Renault car and a €25,000 round-the-world trip.
Meanwhile, RTE hailed host Daithi O Se's debut performance with the 2010 Rose of Tralee as initial audience figures showed one of the best viewership ratings of the decade.
This year, 705,000 people watched the 2010 Rose of Tralee festival, as compared to 545,000 in 1979.
While this year's audience figures were slightly down on last year's gala 50th anniversary show, viewership figures were substantially up on 2008 -- a 46pc marketshare compared to a 42pc (640,000) marketshare.
And with last night's grand final broadcast still to be assessed, the show was within striking distance of the 2005 viewership figure of 789,000.
A staggering 1.5 million people still tuned in to the show at some stage during Monday evening's broadcast.
Last night, RTE said they were very pleased with the festival's ongoing TV strength.
"We are delighted with Daithi's performance last night. He brought a burst of energy and enthusiasm to proceedings in the Dome and it was obvious that the home crowd were thrilled to have one of their own on stage," an RTE spokesperson said.
Last night, the 2010 festival reached its grand finale after five days of parties, parades, fashion and frolics -- and the organisers hailed the event as an overwhelming success.
With 32 Roses, a debut presenter, a dodgy weather forecast and a full-blown economic recession to contend with, the 2010 festival understandably faced a mixed bag of predictions.
But, once again, Ireland's most famous festival defied the critics.
Carmel McLoughlin, mother of Cork-born Leicester Rose, Aishling (21), stressed that the Tralee festival's priceless asset was actually its people.
"You just don't realise how fantastic the people are until you actually arrive here -- it has been absolutely unbelievable over the past few days. The festival volunteers are just incredible," she said.
O Se (34) said he was delighted with how the festival had gone -- and immediately confirmed he would love to return to host next year's event.
"I genuinely don't know -- if everybody is happy, I'd be well up for it again next year," he told the Irish Independent.
"It was a huge thing for me and my family to be asked to present the Rose of Tralee -- and to be the first Kerry (host) as well," he said.
Daithi joked that his mother, Caithlinn, was even more nervous than he was during the grand finale last night in the Dome.
"She was nervous going in -- then she looked up at me and got really nervous," he joked.
But Daithi said his mother gave him a firm thumbs-up on his performance.
"Just like every other show I do, whether it is 'Podge & Rodge' or 'The Afternoon Show', I always call my mother after the show -- and mam was delighted with the whole thing.
"Once my mam is happy, we are all happy," he smiled. "She doesn't hold prisoners -- so she'd tell me if there was something wrong," he added.