It is an event quite unlike any other in Ireland. The famous annual event is held in Tralee, Co. Kerry and has become an international festival. A woman from each of Ireland’s 32 counties takes to the stage to compete for the prestigious prize of being The Rose Of Tralee. A title that holds great privilege. The Rose who is crowned the winner should have the qualities that are depicted in the famous Rose Of Tralee song. The song is said to have given rise to the festival and quotes the Rose as being “lovely and fair”. In keeping with this the lucky winner will be a beautiful lady who is kind, giving and an excellent role model to other women.

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The 2016 Rose Of Tralee has just come to an end. The winner resides in Chicago and has had an unforgettable experience at the 2016 festival. A dream to be crowned the winner. However, the media is instead focused on the Sydney Rose. A rose who has bravely spoken up about some of the festival’s flaws. Particularly those that relate to women’s reproductive rights and having a political voice and opinion that extends further than that of hairspray or wearing a sash.

In an interview with the Irish Times the Sydney Rose refers to the festival as a “Kate Middleton Impersonation Competition”. She refers to the famous Father Ted “Lovely Girls” parody and highlights the very real similarities. The Australian Journalist spoke about the topic of abortion and was told by a festival official that – “you let me down”. This was due to her comments which stated that she believed Ireland needed a referendum on the subject and on the law.

The Down Rose has also revealed some negative feedback about the festival. In an interview she expressed that she claims that she did not sign up for a “cheap reality television show” that manipulates a woman’s emotions for the purposes of television entertainment. She spoke about feeling like “animals in a circus” who were held in a room against their wills as their live reactions were filmed. She refers to the filming of the “cull” as being cruel and insensitive.

These honest remarks from the 2016 Rose Of Tralee Contestants has highlighted some of the negative aspects of what is typically considered Ireland’s biggest festival. The event was seen by an average of 600,000 viewers this year and yet the viewing figures have indeed dropped by 33% over the last six years. Perhaps the event will make some changes next year and the festival will experience a positive revival.

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