Flashback: This is what the Rose of Tralee looked like in the 70s, 80s and 90s

Minister for Labour Dick Spring with the Darwin Rose and the Washington DC Rose outside Leinster House in 1986

It's that time of year again, when hopeful Roses from around the world flock to the small town of Tralee.

Since its inception in 1959, the Rose of Tralee has become a significant milestone on our cultural calendar. No longer seen as a "Lovely Girls" pageant, the international festival celebrates the individuality, intelligence and career success of its entrants.

As this year's festival kicks off, we're looking back at what the Rose of Tralee looked like in decades gone by.

Rose of Tralee 1976

Originally, only women from Tralee were eligible to enter but this was extended to include women from Kerry in the sixties, before the festival welcomed entrants from around the world in 1967, so long as they were of Irish descent. The 1970s had entrants everywhere from Miami, to Switzerland and Pennsylvania who rocked some pretty stylish seventies ensembles as seen above on the entrants to the Belfast Rose in 1976.

Rose of Tralee, 1978

The Belfast finalists for the Rose of Tralee in 1978, pictured above.

Rose of Tralee, 1978

The Lord Mayor Paddy Belton with two of the Roses from the 1978 competition.

Rose of Tralee 1986

Far from being a beauty pageant, the Rose of Tralee celebrates the many diverse career paths of its entrants. Kelly Moran, pictured above, was the 1986 New York Rose and a member of the NYPD (although you'll probably recognise that as a Garda cap she nabbed for the photo).

Gay Byrne was initially asked to host the Rose of Tralee in in 1974, and continued to do so for another 20 years. In 1995, Derek Davis took over hosting duties and, judging by the photo above, seemed to have a pretty good time of it.

To see more photos from our archives, visit our galleries here