Sunday 22 September 2019

'Is there anything more empowering for women than the Rose of Tralee?'

Blooming Roses: Rose of Tralee host Dáithí Ó Sé greets Melbourne Rose Jordan Balfry and some of the other contestants at Castletown House, Celbridge, Co Kildare, yesterday. Photo: Collins
Blooming Roses: Rose of Tralee host Dáithí Ó Sé greets Melbourne Rose Jordan Balfry and some of the other contestants at Castletown House, Celbridge, Co Kildare, yesterday. Photo: Collins
Aoife Kelly

Aoife Kelly

Dáithí Ó Sé has defended the Rose of Tralee as a "sisterhood" and vehicle for "empowerment" for young women.

Speaking at the launch of this year's festival, the host said there is nothing more empowering than to share personal stories with an audience of millions.

"Is there anything more empowering than going up on stage in front of 2,000 people inside a dome where you probably know 50, and in front of the whole nation, and telling your life story?" he asked.

"That has probably been overlooked over the past 60 years, how important it is for people to tell fun stories, embarrassing stories that happened to them, and they're willing to go along with the gag and then to say, 'I lost a parent', 'I lost a sister', 'I lost a brother'.

"We can have all the fun in the world, which is all well and good, but I think those real heartwarming stories behind the whole thing, and to get up in front of the whole nation and tell them, I think can be very empowering."

Among this year's Roses are two young women who have overcome challenging health issues. Donegal Rose Chloe Kennedy recently received the all clear following 12 rounds of chemotherapy for Hodgkins lymphoma and is looking forward to returning to study psychology at Maynooth University after a year out.

Arizona Rose Kayla Gray also underwent experimental brain surgery to treat chiari malformation and hydrocephalus before graduating to work in a research laboratory. She worked on a project which identified one of the cells that caused the disease.

Dáithí said there is no sense of competition in the lead up to the big night. He is in his 10th year as host and says it is "very, very special" for him. He met his wife Rita 10 years ago at the festival and now they have a son, Michael Óg.

All smiles: Dublin Rose Laura Vines cuddles a lamb at yesterday’s launch. Photo: Collins
All smiles: Dublin Rose Laura Vines cuddles a lamb at yesterday’s launch. Photo: Collins

"I was very happy when I got the job the first day. I remember finishing on the Tuesday night of the first year thinking, 'Jesus, I was the host of the Rose of Tralee for a year', and I was really delighted with myself and it was a high point of my career," he said.

Irish Independent

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