Thursday 19 September 2019

The most controversial Rose of Tralee moments

New York Rose Elena Evangelou taking an ‘Ouzo Shots Challenge’ with Dáithí O’Sé at the Rose of Tralee International Festival. Photo: Steve Humphreys
New York Rose Elena Evangelou taking an ‘Ouzo Shots Challenge’ with Dáithí O’Sé at the Rose of Tralee International Festival. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Kirsty Blake Knox and Aoife Kelly

Now celebrating its 60th year the Rose of Tralee has had it's fair share of controversy and scandals over the years.

Here we take a look back at the moments that got the country talking, howling and cringing.

The Rose Cull

In 2016, RTE producers came under fire when they orchastrated the humilliating 'Rose Cull'.

Contestants were divided into two rooms - in one suite, lucky ladies were told that they would make it through to the final stage of the competiton. While at the same time in a room across the corridor, 33 less fortunate roses heard that their journey had come to an abrupt end.

The whole experience was captured on film by an RTÉ camera crew for the documentary 'Road to The Dome'.

Afterwards, the Roses complained about their treatment they recieved.

"We did not sign up to be treated like animals in the circus and held in a room against our will," Down Rose Fainche McCormack said at the time.

“I could go on for days about the many ways we were manipulated, bullied and mistreated; However, up until a certain point, the Rose of Tralee was the experience of a lifetime, every part of a little girl’s dream.

Down Rose Fainche McCormack. Picture Credit : Frank Mc Grath

“It’s just a shame that television viewing numbers became more important that the truly amazing girls that got hurt and that now have to deal with the emotional trauma of the whole, quite frankly disgusting and cruel, ordeal.

RTE had to do a very steep climb down and organisers vowed that the Rose Cull was a thing of the past.

THAT proposal

Former New Orleans Rose Molly Molloy Gamble caused a stir when she said 'no, no, please God no' 11 times after her boyfriend Kyle Catlett got down on bended knee on the Rose of Tralee stage. Everyone in the country dived under their sofa in embarassment.

Things got better and the two are now happily married.

But this moment will forever be seared into our national consciousness.

Repealin' Roses

Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins received plenty of applause from the audience when she stated her support for a referendum on repealing the eighth amendment during her interview with Daithí Ó Sé.

"I think it's time to give women a say over their reproductive rights," she said. "I would love to see a referendum on the eighth amendment come up soon. That would be my dream."

Brianna Parkins spoke of her shock. Photo: Frank McGrath

While many applauded her, some of the organisers were less impressed stating that the festival was not the time or place to discuss such matters.

Fixing Allegations

in 2013, the Rose of Tralee was hit with fixing allegations after the winner's silverware, engraved with the name of the winner, was broadcast on live television - two days before the final.

Cutlery prize shows name O'Sullivan two days before being presented. Pic RTE

However, organisers said it was a "coincidence" that the silverware happened to be engraved with the name of the Texas Rose, who won the event two days later.

The hip hop rose

Dublin Rose Siobheal Nic Eochaidh broke ground with a hip-hop dance back in 2011. It is universally accepted truth that nothing no ta;lent segment will ever top it.

Dublin Rose Siobheal Nic Eochaidh pictured during her Hip Hop dance routine on stage at the Rose of Tralee in Tralee last evening.Pic Frank Mc Grath

A priest storms the stage

In 2016, viewers were shocked when a protester dressed as a priest stormed the stage.

As Cavan Rose Lisa Reilly spoke to Daithi about her boyfriend, 'Fathers 4 Justice' founder Matt O’Connor rushed passed the security waving a poster in the air.

Daithi looked astounded, the sound in The Dome cut off, the VT rolled and four fine Kerry security men rugby tackled O’Connor to the ground.

fathers 4 justice.PNG

The First Single Mother Enters

In 2008, rules changed so that single mothers were allowed to enter the compeition. And Fiona Canavan, the mother of Realtin Canavan (7) signed up to the festival.

“This is my last opportunity to enter and it's something I'm inspired by,” Fiona said, hilariously adding “I think it's totally about personality and it's like the lovely ladies festival in Father Ted.” Fiona paved the way for other mothers to enter the festival.

Fiona Canavan mother of Realtin (then aged 7)


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