Fun and games for Roses as competition steps up a gear
A Rose sister has many duties; parades, boat trips, zumbathons, Mass, visiting libraries - and bundling handcuffed escorts into the back of garda cars.
The 64 'lovely and fair' Roses headed to a Garda open day over the weekend, where they tried on bullet-proof vests, put on hats, and assisted in the arrest of New York Rose escort Pa O'Donnell.
"I'm getting deja vu," he said while sitting in the back of the car before tumbling out the door and making a 'getaway'.
"We're just messing," Pa said. "It's all just a bit of fun."
Tonight, the first 18 Roses will take to the stage of the Dome to chat to Dáithí Ó Sé and perform party pieces including limbo dancing and aerial acrobatics - but no poetry recitals.
The 32 finalists were announced over the weekend.
The first 16 were unveiled at a 'presentation of the Roses' hosted by Marty Morrissey.
The second batch were named at a private breakfast surrounded by their families.
It was a far cry from last year's 'Rose cull', where the ladies were told they hadn't made it through in 'X Factor' fashion in front of a camera crew. This year's softly-softly approach was a lot more in keeping with the wholesomeness of the festival.
"Compared to what was done last year, I thought this was more tasteful," Hong Kong Rose Clarissa Langley Coleman said.
"Having Rose duties afterwards was helpful.
"One girl came up to me and initially, she was quite upset.
"But, then, she went on her Rose duties and when everyone gave her a big cheer, she felt much better.
"I think we all realised that it isn't all about the TV part.
"There's more to the competition than that."
Louth Rose Aoife Heffron found out on Saturday morning that she had made it through.
"It was exciting, but sombre as well," she said. "Because you are making sure everyone is OK.
"But we just have to enjoy ourselves as Rose sisters."
Last night, the Rose hotel was heaving.
A frustrating All Ireland semi-final and torrential downpour left teams of people hunkering down in the bar.
Having watched the match from the comfort of his sofa, GAA star and 'Dancing with the Stars' champion Aidan O'Mahony arrived to perform a salsa dance as part of the grand finale at the Rose of Tralee fashion show.
"He's like snuff at a funeral ever since he won that dancing show," one lady mumbled.
"God help him."
In the foyer of the hotel, as the brass band played, escorts and Rosebuds flitted about.
Jackie Healy Rae, the son of Kerry TD Michael Healy Rae, is the Washington Rose's escort. Sadly, Washington has not made it through to the televised segment, but Jackie said that was no matter, as there was still plenty of fun to be had.
"Tonight we're doing a sing-off with the Roses," he said. "The escorts are doing 'Wonderwall' and the Saw Doctors."
Asked what makes a good escort, Jackie replied: "Having tape for the sashes."
'The Rose of Tralee' airs on RTÉ One tonight at 8pm, when the first 18 Roses will take to the stage with host Dáithí Ó Sé.
The remaining 15 will take to the stage tomorrow, when the winner of the 58th Rose of Tralee competition will be named.'I can brew tea, I can tweet, I make my own bed/But this isn't a talent everyone said' - we'll be missing the Rose of Tralee poems tonight