Friday 22 September 2017

New Rose hails ‘best week of my life – crazy, frantic and amazing’

Bookies get it right as Queensland Rose takes title, writes Majella O’Sullivan

Queensland's Tara Talbot was last night
crowned the 53rd Rose of Tralee
Queensland's Tara Talbot was last night crowned the 53rd Rose of Tralee
Queensland Rose Tara Talbot can't believe it as she is named the 53rd Rose of Tralee last night
Germany Rose Saoirse Fitzgerald, left, and New Zealand Rose Ailbhe Ryan get ready for the final night of the Rose of Tralee last night
Daithi O Se's fiancee Rita Talty enjoys the Rose of Tralee show in the Dome last night

THE bookmakers had made her favourite – but even as she was crowned the 53rd Rose of Tralee, Queensland’s Tara Talbot couldn’t quite believe it.



“I’m shocked, very overwhelmed and extremely proud to be representing 63 wonderful people that I’ve met and the Queensland Irish community firstly,” the 27- year-old secondary school teacher said.

“I’m in shock to be honest. When I looked around the room today I thought anyone of us could have won.

“It’s been the best week of my life, crazy, frantic, the best experience I’ve ever had. It’s been amazing to meet the extended Irish community.”

Although Dublin-born Tara’s Irish boyfriend Fionnan Henry couldn’t make it home, she said he was wonderfully supportive. Born to an Irish father and a Filipino mother, Tara emigrated to Australia with her family when she was only five years old.

She never lost contact with her roots and is a member of the Queensland Irish Association and returned to live between Dublin and Galway for three years in 2006.

Her plans to pursue her master’s degree in marketing may have to be put on hold for a while as she embarks on a year as the new ambassador for the Rose of Tralee festival.

She got her first taste of what lies ahead for the coming year last night when she was whisked off to Denny Street for the midnight parade to be feted in front of 25,000 well wishers.

This was Queensland’s second win and the fourth time the Rose crown has gone Down Under.

As well as the title that is now hers forever, the new Rose of Tralee gets her tiara, a €25,000 round-the-world trip, a range of household wear and jewellery from Newbridge Silverware and the use of a brand new Renault Megane.

Earlier, Imelda May tied herself up in knots trying to explain the Rose of Tralee – and its enduring success. She isn’t the first and she won’t be the last.

Eventually the rockabilly singer told her English band mates that the festival is a mixture of Miss World, the Eurovision and Father Ted. Not that she was writing it off as a “lovely girls’ contest” you understand.

In fact, the Liberties girl had nothing but praise for the festival and said she was delighted to have been asked to perform her new single ‘Road Runner’ in The Dome last night.

She revealed how her parents had begged and borrowed – but stopped short of stealing – so she could attend the festival when she was about 10 years old.

“When they asked me to sing I said I’d love to do it, I’m a huge fan of the Rose of Tralee,” Imelda said last night. “I remember loving it as a kid and watching it on telly and loving the glam. A lot of kids get dressed up to watch it and it’s good for the whole family.

She recalled how she got the train to Tralee with her parents when she was a child and they had camped out in the railway station.

Then with tickets secured they got “dolled up” and headed out to The Dome. But explaining it to her band, she was at a loss until she hit on the three things that transcend both cultures.

“All the band are English and I was trying to explain to them what it was like,” she explained.

“They said ‘is it like Miss World?’ and I said it was nicer and they have no bikinis but they seemed to be disappointed at that,” she laughed. And while the Rose of Tralee is the show we love to slag off – the latest viewing figures from TAM Ireland, Live and Vosdal have made liars out of more than one million of us.

Some 601,000 people watched the second half of Monday night’s live TV performance and this figure was expected to top one million viewers for the unveiling of the new Rose last night. Although audience share was down by 4pc to 42pc on Monday, RTE bosses were happy with the ratings and with the performance of host Daithi O Se.

“There was always going to be additional interest in Daithi’s first year as presenter but we’re delighted with the figures,” an RTE spokesperson said last night.

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