The Kerryman (South Kerry Edition) - - NEWS - By SI­MON BROUDER

REIGN­ING Rose of Tralee Kirsten Mate Maher was joined by six of her pre­de­ces­sors to launch the cel­e­bra­tions for the 60th an­niver­sary of the Rose of Tralee fes­ti­val.

Next Au­gust the world-fa­mous con­test and fes­ti­val will mark its 60th birth­day, and while the event is still eight months away, the or­gan­is­ers are wast­ing no time in get­ting the party started.

Last Fri­day, reign­ing Rose Kirsten and six pre­vi­ous win­ners met in Dublin to jointly launch the search for the 2019 Rose of Tralee and the fes­ti­val’s 60th birth­day.

These past Roses were the first Rose, Alice O’Sul­li­van, who was crowned in 1959; the 1969 Rose, Cathy Quinn from Dublin; 1979 Rose Marita Mar­ron from Belfast; 1989 Rose Sinéad Boyle from Dublin; 1999 Rose Ger­rie O’Grady from Cork and the 2009 win­ner, Char­maine Kenny, who rep­re­sented Lon­don dur­ing the fes­ti­val’s 50th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tions a decade ago.

Kirsten en­cour­aged as many women as pos­si­ble to get in­volved.

“My en­tire Rose jour­ney has been over­whelm­ing in the most pos­i­tive sense. It has been the most pos­i­tive life-chang­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, and the only way to truly ap­pre­ci­ate that it’s more than what peo­ple see on TV is to en­ter your local Rose se­lec­tion now,” she said.

Some 59 years af­ter she won the crown, the first Rose of Tralee, Alice O’Sul­li­van, re­mains a huge fan of the event.

“Over the years I’ve been con­stantly im­pressed by the peo­ple who run the Fes­ti­val. Year af­ter year, good years and bad years, they have an en­thu­si­asm to keep it go­ing. It has re­ally put the town of Tralee on the map,” said Alice.

“I think that is such an amaz­ing thing. It does well on tele­vi­sion, and that’s get­ting the mes­sage about the town of Tralee and about Kerry that it’s a re­ally good place to be. Any­one who’s think­ing of en­ter­ing the Rose of Tralee should just go for it,” she said.

The or­gan­is­ers of the Rose of Tralee In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val have re­vamped the se­lec­tion process for 2019 by re­mov­ing the re­gional qual­i­fi­ca­tion as­pect of the event to en­sure that ev­ery Rose who is se­lected each year will fea­ture in the TV fi­nal, which will be broad­cast from the Dome on RTÉ.

From 2019, each Cen­tre will se­lect a Rose bi-an­nu­ally and 32 Roses will be hosted in Tralee an­nu­ally.

Roses rep­re­sent­ing Kerry, Cork and Dublin will con­tinue to be se­lected ev­ery year. The 2019 Rose of Tralee will run from Au­gust 23 to 27.

Photo Dom­nick Walsh

Reign­ing Rose Kirsten Mate Maher joined TV host Dáithí Ó Sé and past win­ners Alice O’Sul­li­van (1959); Cathy Quinn (1969); Marita Mar­ron (1979), Sínead Boyle (1989), Ger­rie O’Grady (1999) and Char­maine Kenny (2009) to launch the 2019 fes­ti­val.

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