LEO Varadkar watched anxiously as this year's Rose of Tralee, Nicola McEvoy, carefully descended the steep ladder in a pair of vertiginous stilettos, his arm gallantly at the ready should she become stuck.
Now there's an idea.
What a perfect Rose escort our transport minister would make! He's a 30-something chap with a steady job for the next few years (bar a snap election) and a good pension (don't mention the war). What's more, he's also a GP, which can only be a bonus in the eyes of any Cork mothers seeking husbands for their daughters. Leo has good manners, his own tuxedo, but (as far as we know) he doesn't have a girlfriend.
Oh, and he's on holliers in August, when the festival kicks off in Kerry. Perfect, just perfect.
And there he was yesterday morning on the Jeanie Johnston ship on Dublin's docks, doing a photo-shoot for this year's extended Rose of Tralee-meets-The Gathering hooley, larking about on the deck with Daithi O Se, a trio of Roses, a giant bottle and a flag.
And sure now that the festival's eligible host, Daithi, has been snaffled by a former Rose, it could do no harm to have another high-profile, fine-looking step of a bachelor adorning the event.
And it turns out that Leo has never been to the most famous of all the Lovely Girl Festivals. "I've never gone, no, but I'm hoping to get to it this year," he said. "My sister Sonia is married to a Tralee man, so I have a permanent invitation."
Ah, but has he ever considered going as an escort? Maybe it was the result of inhaling all that fresh air on deck, but instead of scoffing at the impertinence of the question, Leo suddenly looked thoughtful.
"I hadn't thought of it . . . but it would be a quirky thing to do," he openly mused, as beside him, the eye of his press officer sparked up like little lighthouses. Think of the publicity – Leo in his sharp tux, hand-in-hand with a winsome lassie from Boston or Sydney or Belfast.
It would be the very opposite of Silvio Berlusconi – a positive news story about a politician and a bevy of beauties which would be guaranteed to go global in jig time.
So he'd actually consider becoming an escort? "I wonder would I be too old?" he mused.
"I think you have to be under the age of 30 or 35 – if it's under 35, I'm alright."
Surely it would be grand. Granted, he turned 34 last week, but no doubt the Rose organisers would make an exception for the minister?
Leo collared the festival's press officer. "Just a random question – is there an age limit on the escorts?" he asked.
"Yes, 30," came the prompt reply.
Leo looked a bit crestfallen. "So I'm too old," he sighed.
The uncomprehending press officer walked away, unaware of the massive publicity coup he had just destroyed.
And it seems that Leo really has hurled himself into the spirit of The Gathering, and plans to tour a selection of the festivals. "I'm hoping to go to the Father Ted Fest," he revealed.
Now that would be fun. If he does make the trip to Inis Mor next month, which character will he goes as?
But Leo clammed up and wouldn't say.
Still, he shouldn't give up on his escort dream. And he has a supporter in the lovely guise of 2012 Rose Nicola McEvoy. "He'd be super," she reckoned. "He's very kind."
And he's tall, dark and handsome? "Absolutely," she declared.
So, it's up to you, Rose of Tralee organisers. Bend the age rules a bit, and everything will be coming up Roses for Leo.
Ah go on, go on, go on, go on.