The Rose of Tralee makes its long awaited return this Friday and and businesses around the town are anxiously waiting to see how the Festival’s long-awaited return pans out.
After two years without the event there have been some concerns that the same level of public interest may not be there anymore.
However, the level of positive social-media interest in the Rose of Tralee – and the reception the 33 Roses have received – since the Rose tour kicked off last Saturday suggests there is still a strong public affinity for the 63-year-old contest.
With the Festival abandoning the traditional Dome at Fels Point in favour of the MTU Sports Academy, and the street entertainment programme scaled back, there are also some concerns that the event may not draw the same crowds into the town centre as in pre-COVID days.
Pre-pandemic, the Rose of Tralee pumped around €10million into the local economy, and while the first post-COVID Rose may not quite reach those heights, it still looks as if it will be a bumper few days for local businesses.
Though most hotels will routinely keep a few rooms in reserve, there are precious few to be found, with only a small handful available via online booking sites as The Kerryman went to press on Tuesday evening.
Though the lack of the Dome and major free musical acts over the weekend has been highlighted by many in the lead up to the festivities, that may in fact be something of a silver lining for hospitality businesses and particularly for town centre pubs.
A number of publicans and bar staff have pointed out that the Dome and major street events usually tended to draw people away from the pubs, and their absence over the weekend could actually prove to be a bit of a blessing in disguise.
Whatever happens, it promises to be a fun-filled five days in the town, with the streets, park, pubs, restaurants and shops set to enjoy a busy few days at the end of what has been a decidedly mixed summer tourist season for many.
Meanwhile, Kerry Rose Édaein O’Connell – a 27-year-old freelance journalist from Glenbderry near – Listowel said she’s relishing the experience and can’t wait to arrive in Tralee on Friday.
“I was given a send off by my GAA club and there were posters and signs up all along the road, wishing me luck. It was like heading off to play in an All-Ireland final,” said Édaein who is one of the bookies’ favourites to win the title.
“I think when I get to Tralee I’ll know how the boys felt on that open-top bus a few weeks ago!”