The Rose of Tralee have settled into a new home in the Munster Technological University sports complex in the city of Kerry, along with quite a rebrand.
For the first time, the pageant is open to trans women and married participants, and the age limit has been raised to 29, the first series of changes in its 61-year history.
Host Dáithí Ó Sé, who is in his 11th year running the show, which has 33 contestants, said there is now “three years of built-up excitement because we weren’t there in 2020 and 2021” due to the pandemic.
The giddy Kerry host – who met all the Roses for the first time yesterday – has hinted at some of the surprises in store for fans who have had to wait three years for his return.
“We’re hoping for a good, big surprise on the first night, which is what we always try to do,” he said. “There may or may not be live animals involved, there could be an icy reception for someone — and that’s all I can tell you about the Roses’ party tunes.”
Commenting on this year’s rule changes, he said it was “regrettable” that next Monday and Tuesday there would be no trans women fighting for the title at the televised Dome competition. “I was really looking forward to having this conversation on stage, but I think a very positive message has been sent this year, so hopefully next year,” he added.
“I suppose people will need time to make the decision for the competition themselves and I’m really looking forward to that, but unfortunately we don’t have one this year.
“If the Rose of Tralee is to live, it must change. To be fair, they’ve been changing all the time. There was a time when you couldn’t get married, when you couldn’t have a child.
“The age limit has now increased to 29, so they change over time. It’s just another positive step and you’re sending those things out into society and saying ‘guys the Rose of Tralee is for everyone’.
“We are here to celebrate being Irish and celebrating Irish women.”
Ó Sé also revealed that he has an unusual pre-show ritual that helps him relax.
“Before I go on stage, I walk around in my shirt with a big bow and my boxers before I put on my pants. It’s a matter of luck,” he said.
“I did it the second year I’ve done the show and I was like, ‘This was going well,’ so I kept going.
“I do it now when I do MC gigs too – I walk around the room in boxers. It’s about getting those positive vibes in you.”
All 33 Roses lined up for their first photo op on Dublin’s Sandymount Strand yesterday, drawing quite a bit of attention from curious onlookers. They attracted beeping horns, good wishes and even the odd stray dog.
Coming from all over Perth to Dubai to Florida, this year’s Roses are a diverse bunch and include a radiation oncologist, a freelance journalist and a yoga teacher.
Galway Rose Clare Ann Irwin, 26, is a qualified embalmer and undertaker who left her job as a teacher two years ago to join her family business, Irwin’s, which dates back to 1834.
“I’ve always wanted to do it, but I taught and tutored for three years, and that was a big reason for me to choose the rose as well,” she said.
“Stereotypically, a funeral director and embalmer is seen as a man’s job. That is the main reason I chose the Galway Rose.
“I think there are a lot of jobs like trades – plumbing and electrician – that young girls will always grow up believing they can’t do. I absolutely love embalming now.”
Texas Rose Arden Stringer (29), instantly recognizable by her black Stetson, is the bookmakers’ hot favorite.
A graduate of Ballymaloe Cookery School, she works as a food stylist for private label and magazines.
When asked how she felt about being a favorite, she said, “It’s the price of just being here.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/i-walk-around-backstage-in-my-boxer-shorts-and-a-dickie-bow-rose-of-tralees-daithi-on-his-bizarre-pre-show-ritual-41917182.html “I walk around backstage in my boxers and a big bow tie” – Rose of Tralee’s Dáithí on his bizarre pre-show ritual