Anthony O’Gara: “It’s Time To Correct Some Misconceptions About The Rose…”

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The following is the full open letter from the Chief Executive of the Rose of Tralee International Festival, Anthony O’Gara addressing unfair criticism of the Festival…

Anthony O'Gara“It’s time to correct some misconceptions about the Rose of Tralee International Festival that are foisted on the unsuspecting public annually by some zealous, angry, if perhaps, misguided social commentators.

The Rose of Tralee is one of the most important threads to connect Irish people throughout the world with home and that is a fact for over 55 years.

We celebrate the Roses, their families and friends in their own home towns first and their arrival in Tralee is a continuation of this celebration.

Along the way. Tralee and many other towns and cities receive a boost to their tourism economy to the tune of €12 million. Numerous charities also benefit from being associated with the event and its people. Most of important of all, thousands of people have fun, great friendships are formed and even one million people join the party atmosphere through the magic of live TV.

We’re not sensitive to criticism, but we are sensitive to boorish nonsense from uniformed opinion writers.
So, let’s be a little bit fair when commenting on the festival:

The Rose of Tralee is not all about: Paddy Whackery, Colleens on Parade, Stepford Wives tricked out as national stereotypes, flagrant misogyny or masquerading as Irish culture.

We don’t have a 1950s ethos – we do have a proud history and each year the Roses reflect women as they are today. Their ethos is ours.

We are not interested in stereotyping women. We celebrate exceptional women and accept them as the proud people they are, whatever that might be.

There is no Festival Committee and there has not been a Festival Committee since before 2004. The whole event is managed centrally by a very small management team of part-time people who are supported by a bevy of volunteers and 70 Rose Centres.

Most of the people who are involved in staging the Rose of Tralee International Festival at various levels, from planning to Judging, were born long after the break-up of the Beatles and when the Rolling Stones were past their best.

We choose Judges who want to find a relevant, independent, modern woman to represent the Irish Diaspora with pride and that is their only happy concern.

Please, get over the outdated ‘lovely girls’ joke. We have.

We don’t do more ‘mock Irishness’ or indulge in ‘plastic paddies’. The 200,000 people who engage with us annually and the TV viewers are real people.

To dismiss it, simply by forming opinions based on seeing elements of one of Ireland’s most popular TV shows each year, without attending the Festival is simply an excuse to trot out flagrant verbal rubbish for the sake of it.

This bandwagon has long since lost its wheels after being so laden-down with the prejudices of uninformed bolony of the faux intellectuals who trip over each other to impress their peers.

Roses and the rest of us live in the real world where bad things happen and people struggle. During the Festival they are celebrating and tend to show us their positive side but let’s not patronise them as ‘winsome colleens’. That might be seen as being plain bitchy.

The Roses are obviously pretty exceptional young women which is hardly surprising. They have been chosen from almost 1000 of their peers – all of whom are impressive.

They are not professional entertainers. They are enduring people who entertain us and enthral us as best they can through a bit of harmless fun on stage.

But most importantly, they reflect some pride in the communities that they represent. We are, in effect, honouring them and celebrating them as representatives of families and communities from our scattered generations.

By all means, be a contrary bystander. We all need some contra opinion to keep us on our toes, but remember this, a week at the Rose of Tralee Festival might just the thing to bring a little magic back into your life.

It’s by a country-mile the best festival in Ireland.

By the way, the Rose of Tralee, Maria Walsh, is on the Late Late Show tonight (Friday 5th September). Let’s see if you don’t fall under the spell.

Yours sincerely,

Anthony O’Gara

Executive Chairman

Rose of Tralee International Festival”


  1. Adrienne McLoughlin says:

    Well said, and written, Mr. O’Gara.

  2. Lets all change and make a positive input into making festivals like this work for the better of the entertainers, artists, technicians, the hard working personal who put up with so much, im one of those people who can say that the ROSE OF TRALEE. has had a positive effect in shaping my life and i also must say thank you. Bring on the next 55 years

  3. Michael O'Driscoll Sr. says:

    Hear-Hear , Mr O’Gara Wel done ! Like the Festival

  4. Dear sir/madam, I wish to comment on the following sentence which is the start of your above statement.

    ( The Rose of Tralee is one of the most important threads to connect Irish people throughout the world) When I read it I felt compelled to reply. However as I am self employed and benefit financially from the festival I am glad of it.
    I agree with every other comment on the above said. I wish to also express my horror at Daithi O Shea’s performance as host of the 2013 show, where he dressed himself up as a baby in its cot whilst donning a beard. I am confident that I would think no other host could have come close to such infantile stupidity past,present or future. I was almost equally horrified when he joined the world wide party of idiots who took part in the ice bucket challenge on national television. I personally believe that even though it has to be an extremely difficult job to host such a show, that there surely has to be more competent professionals with the sense to know what makes good TV and what makes quiet frankly gut wrenching awful TV. I think otherwise it to be a fantastic festival and wish it to have continued success and prosper as the years follow, PS. I think this years rose is very beautiful looking and it is lovely to listen to her speak, she deserved her win in my opinion as did the 2013 rose who I thought was really great.

    Yours sincerely

    Brendan O Sullivan