Where Are They Now: Rose Of Tralee Edition

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AS thousands flock to the dome in Tralee to see which lucky lady gets picked to be this year’s one true Rose, it’s time to take a look through the decades of frock-wearing, poem-reciting young women who have populated Ireland’s most prestigious prettiness pageant. They set our heart aflutter with their charming banter, they took our minds off our crushing sense of worthlessness with their soft-shoe reels… but where are they now?

Siugriogh NiMhoainleaigh, Blasket Rose, 1889

Who is she?

The first ever Rose of Tralee, hailing from the Blasket Islands off the coast of Kerry, back when the competition was open only to women who loved within a tight radius of Tralee itself, with none of this ‘Abu Dhabi Rose’ nonsense that has crept into the event in recent years, to the chagrin of Rose purists.

Where is she now?

After returning victorious to her home, NiMhoainleaigh found herself the victim of a targeted campaign of bullying and abuse by the women of the island, who disliked her ‘notions’. The 23-year-old Rose was later found murdered in her bed by the island folk, and some people say she still haunts the island to this day, with many reports of a ghostly woman roaming the fields, listing off her favourite ways to spend a Sunday.

“Mary Kelly”, Black & Tan Rose, 1920

Who is she?

Although her real name is unknown, a young woman calling herself ‘Mary Kelly’ (later revealed to be the most ‘Irish sounding’ name she could think of) entered the competition in 1920, before being outed as a spy for the Black & Tans who was sent to infiltrate the festival to learn what she could of the IRA, who were the driving force behind the Rose Of Tralee from 1910 to present day.

Where is she now?

Upon being discovered as a spy after accidentally admitting that she prefers coffee to tea, ‘Kelly’ had her head shaved by the Garda band before being chased out of the county by the Tralee column of the Kerry Angry Man Brigade. Kelly had intended to make her way to British Destroyer moored off the coast of Dingle, but never made it. Nobody knows what really happened to her as she made her escape, but she is remembered each year on KellyDay, where locals meet in Tralee to re-enact her desperate attempt to flee the Kingdom with fun and games for all the family.

Fire Bush, Cherokee Rose, 1989

Who is she?

The first Native American Rose, who entered as a protest to the treatment of Native Americans by the US government, causing a chorus of boos rain down from the audience who just wanted her to be quiet and look good and not raise any trouble.

Where is she now?

Bush was sent home on the next plane out of Ireland, prompting new legislation in the laws of the competition that prevents any contestant from mentioning anything even slightly political or provocative. “The rules are simple; dress, chat, song, get off the stage” said Michael Rose, CEO for ROT Inc. “We don’t care how oppressed your people are. This isn’t that kind of show”.

Una Wilson, Cork Rose, 2014

Who is she?

The first Cork Rose to have been allowed in the competition, following the easing of a blood-oath by Kerry people never to let their hated neighbours enter. Wilson competed in the 2014 event, where tensions ran riot amid fears of angry protests from Anti-Cork hold-outs and die-hards.

Where is she now?

Although Wilson finished dead last due to being pretty shit in fairness, her involvement in the competition paved the way for more young women from Cork to take to the stage in the Dome, answer that they’re from ‘the real capital’ to a chorus of silence before shouting ‘Up the rebels!’ and asking what everyone’s problem is with the confederate flag.

Jihadi Jane, ISIS Rose, 2017

Who is she?

One of the stand-outs of last year’s event, ‘Jihadi Jane’ booked her place in the competition thanks to her Galway-born grandmother, as well as her storming of the stage, grabbing of Daithi, and exclamations that she would ‘burn this curly fucker alive’ if her demands were not met.

Where is she now?

Jane is currently in the US, or to be more specific, in a diplomatically-controlled shed on the outskirts of Killarney which is technically US soil, without the US rules on how to fairly treat political prisoners.

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