Love is in the air as couples tell their stories

Since 2008 New Jersey Rose Rita Talty wowed then judge Dáithí Ó Sé with a rendition of The Jumbo Breakfast Roll, hearts have been all a flutter in Tralee.

And it has nothing to do with the rumours of breakfast roll diets significantly increasing the risk of heart attacks.

Long-time festival sponsor the Carlton Hotel is asking loved-up couples like Dáithí and Rita to tell their stories via Facebook of how their eyes met across a crowded Rose of Tralee event.

A number of as yet undisclosed “amazing” prizes are being made available by the hotel group for participants — all of whom will hopefully have a smoother road to love than the couple that inspired the festival itself.

The Rose of Tralee is, as any self-respecting Kerry native will explain, based on a 19th-century poem by Pembroke Mulchinock.

The wealthy Protestant fell for his family’s Catholic maid, Mary O’Connor, and won her heart by writing the words of the song.

However, after being accused of murder — falsely, festival-goers insist — he fled to India. On his return years later, he passed the funeral cortege of Mary O’Connor, the one who got away.

This Rose of Tralee judging begins tonight, with Germany’s Bronwyn Sass among those set to catch the attention


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