Rose of Tralee Festival, Tralee, County Kerry

Posted by Niamh A on the 20th of August 2012 at 15:46:38

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The Rose of Tralee Festival is one of Ireland’s longest running festivals and is currently enjoying its 53rd year bringing together young women of Irish descent for a celebration of all things Irish and indeed is a way to celebrate our Irish links on a global basis. This international Festival derives itself from the Carnival Queen Festival, that would take place around this time of year, but by 1957 this had long since fallen by the wayside and local entrepreneurs met to discuss how they would encourage tourism to the town and came up with the idea of a festival and to that end the Rose of Tralee Festival was born. The first Rose of Tralee Festival took place two years later although initially only women from Tralee were eligible, that later changed to women of a Kerry birth but such was the demand and interest in the festival that by 1967 it was extended to all women of Irish birth or heritage.

The Festival takes its inspiration from the song of the same name the Rose if Tralee – thought to be about a woman called Mary who was so beautiful she was called the Rose of Tralee. One of the attributes of Mary from the song was that she was” lovely and fair” and so all Roses would be deemed to have these qualities as well as intellect, ambition, social responsibility and of course an Irish heritage. The beauty of a Rose is not judged but rather her personality and ability to represent the Festival as she travels to Rose Centres across the world.

Rose of Tralee Banners

Indeed, the Festival attracts and welcomes Roses from all parts of the world, different communities, languages and religions are all embraced and united by the common Irish gene all Roses must have. This year Germany, Australia, Canada and the USA are all represented, with some countries even offering more than one Rose – a testament to both the popularity and esteem the Irish diaspora have for the Festival.

There are Rose Centres located across the world from the USA to Dubai, London to New Zealand and of course in Ireland itself. A Rose would be nominated by a local business or community group and would then take part in local heaths, before one representative is chosen for the final in Tralee itself. There is usually around 30 Roses each year, although for the 50th anniversary of the Festival in 2009, 50 Roses took part as part of the festivities.

Tralee is the host town for this Festival - a town situated in north Kerry and there are several events running side by side during the Festival such as music gigs, air displays, fashion shows , fireworks and parades…….

This bustling town puts on a great Festival each year - a Festival that celebrates all the great things we and our Irish diaspora have achieved and a chance for the International Roses to come home.


Why not check out our Best of Ireland Tour and see what Tralee has to offer you and read our blogs on for tips on your Kerry trip and what the Dingle Peninsula has to offer!

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