This year's Rose of Tralee escorts soon realised the gig is not all about doing Bond poses in a tuxedo as they were put through their paces in a team building Escort Boot Camp this weekend.
The 32 chosen lads were challenged to get down and dirty as they learned how to shear sheep, shoe horses, absail, kayak and get to grips with domestic tasks such as sewing and ironing.
The legendary boot camp prepares them for life as escorts to the Roses (and for life in general) at the festival which runs this year from August 14-18.
The reigning Escort of the Year representing the County Derry Rose Centre, Robbie Costelloe, has described his two years as a Rose Escort as being the highlight of his life to date.
“The friends I’ve made are for life, the memories will never dim and the laughs along the way are the loudest we will ever have. I should know, I enjoyed it so much I did it for two years and it only costs €100 for a guy to enter,” he said.
And as if escorting the Roses isn’t enough, of the 32 Escorts who make the grade to reach the International Festival, one man will be chosen by the Roses as the Escort of the Year and win €1000, a weekend break in any one of the Carlton Hotels and other prizes.
The soundtrack was the same - eardrum-perforating whistles and disco - but the homespun, activist atmosphere of yesteryear was long gone as the biggest ever Pride march took over Dublin city centre yesterday. With the battle for marriage equality now won, this was instead a victory parade, a carnival, and a way of giving thanks for the Yes vote in the recent marriage referendum.