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Monday 22 October 2018

Lisa crowned a Rose . . . thanks to three old ladies

A CLASSIC redhead from the Big Apple is the new Rose of Tralee.

Lisa Murtagh (27), who works as an attorney in New York, was crowned with the tiara last night, just months after three old ladies approached her in a pub in Limerick and told her she should enter, mainly because of her spectacular hair.

Evidently, they wished to start spreading the news.

"I'm shocked," Ms Murtagh said as the three Roses from 'Charity You're A Star' warbled the famous tune last night.

"This is the best group of girls I've ever met in my life and I will try to represent to the best of my abilities these 30 amazing women."

But if she was shocked, not everyone in Tralee was -- her odds had plummeted to just three to one in the hours before the result was officially announced last night.

That, though, has become something of a feature of "de Festival" in recent years. A feature of "de Festival" during the totality of its 48-year history has been the weird and wonderful conversation, and onstage last night it ranged from thyroid cancer through disposable knickers, and from computational linguistics to the merits of 70s rock groups.

Host Ray D'Arcy did a physical cartwheel. Ms Murtagh kept the cartwheels emotional.

Earlier a lost family had wandered into the Dome in Tralee at noon yesterday looking for the circus.

Fortunately, rehearsals were under way for the second night of the Rose of Tralee, and Katherine Van Bogaert was, at that very moment, juggling and struggling with an umbrella.

The San Francisco Rose likes to shoot rifles. For whatever reason, the organisers decided against having a real rifle on stage during the show. Possibly, there were too many potential targets.

Instead, the 21-year-old was asked to use an umbrella to demonstrate her rifle handling skills. The rest of us were asked to use our imaginations and, credit where it's due, the two toddlers from the lost family were impressed.

"What is this mommy?" asked the boy, revealing an English accent. "It's a, eh, it's a beauty pageant," came the reply. All four were swiftly redirected to Fossett's down the road.

None of us truly knows what this is, but most of us are informed enough not to call it a beauty pageant or, indeed, a circus.

Certainly not within earshot of someone who cares enough to chuck us out. And yet, a swift exit from the Dome would have been a blessed relief at times during the second show last night.

The faintly-nauseating video diary of the Roses, complete with their very own soundtrack, was a case in point.

"If you wanna be my escort," they roared to the tune -- almost -- of 'Wannabe' by the Spice Girls, "you gotta get with my girls/learn to hold my handbag/and buy me Newbridge pearls."

We checked and Newbridge does indeed do pearls, although loading the various girls up with ostentatious silver before they tottered on stage was the favoured look this week.

It was particularly tough on Ms Van Bogaert who was already having balancing issues having traded her rifle for an umbrella.

Local Rose, Laura Costelloe donned a Kerry jersey this week ahead of Sunday's game, and it was no different yesterday. Ms Costelloe (22) has said she often got the autographs of the Roses when she was younger, and was happy to oblige for Joan-Marie O'Leary (12).

The second part of Monday night's show saw 724,000 tune in, a huge jump on the 573,000 who watched the same section of the show last year. Despite the strong viewership there is little doubt that the obituaries for the festival, the dolled-up beauty pageant, will be wheeled out once again over the coming days.

And there is even less doubt that this particular circus will come back to haunt, confuse and intrigue us again in 12 months.

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