THE Rose of Tralee is Ireland’s most treasured competition, which appraises a woman’s various qualities as she stands there in a nice dress, but the historic event hasn’t been without its controversies. Ahead of the start of this year’s Rose of Tralee this evening, we bring you the 10 most controversial moments in its storied history:
10) The controversial decision to award balaclava wearing IRA Rose Deirdre McDonald the crown in 1994 did not go down well with the public as they were angered at the fact her balaclava was not knitted by her granny, but in fact bought in Carrolls gift shop. Shocking.
9) Who can forget the moment Alaskan Rose Ann Cummings bear-taming routine went awry on stage, we all watched, engrossed in horror as the loose bear, named John Joe mauled original Rose of Tralee host Kevin Hilton to death. A tragedy? Yes. A ratings hit? Most definitely.
8) 1999 Carlow Rose Roisin Hennigan forgot the 5th decade of the Rosary live on air, the error ultimately cost her the crown. Devastating. #WeAllRememberWhereWeWereWhenRoisinHenniganForgotThe5thDecadeOfTheRosaryOnTheRoseOfTralee
7) 1987 Rose of Tralee winner Ciara Healy lifted a car above her head for 5 minutes as her special talent. Truly memorable and her achievement provided scientists with conclusive proof that women can be strong AND beautiful.
6) It was awkward central when Ryan Tubridy’s mike picked up the experienced host saying ‘what the fuck am I doing here?’ under his breath several times throughout the first night of the competition. Viewers were further offended when Tubridy asked Dublin Rose Abigail O’Neill if she loved her Mammy and Daddy. Of course she did, she’s not a fucking monster.
5) Frank Sinatra singing live at the 1967 Rose of Tralee. Stardust was sprinkled over the exalted Kerry venue and rumours that old blue eyes took all Roses back to his hotel room persist to this day.
4) Guest host Jay Leno caused a stir with an off colour Famine joke during his 2004 hosting stint and was subsequently beaten to a bloody pulp live on stage by a gang of Healy Raes.
3) US President Bill Clinton taking to the Rose of Tralee stage to play a 2 hour sax solo in 1997. Amazing. Some will be surprised this didn’t take the top slot.
2) 1971 saw a Dublin Rose win for the first time, but Mary Murray was disqualified after it was discovered she was a Protestant. Dishonest.
1) New York Rose and performance artist Rosemary Cullen took heroin onstage to highlight substance abuse problems in Ireland in the 80s. She overdosed. The memories.