Women get final say on culchies

IT’S the alternative to the Rose of Tralee - and right on its doorstep.

Except no women or people from Dublin are allowed to enter this weekend’s rival north Kerry event.

“They’re two very simple rules really. They’re easy to adhere to,” said Paddy Rock, organiser of the 14th National Culchie Festival in Lisselton village.

“The more rules you have, the more fuss you have. Having said that, the judges are all female. So women have the final say no matter what.”

Fans in their thousands are expected for Lisselton’s gala event of the year, taking place over the bank holiday weekend.

“We market it now rather than try to explain our festival. It’s really trying to identify the fun element that exists in Ireland and the characters that exist.” The successor to last year’s culchie supremo, Meath man Eoin Coffey, will be revealed in The Thatch Bar next Sunday night.

Lisselton is really taking on the Tralee festival people. Gay Byrne’s daughter Crona is one of their five judges, a neat turn given Gaybo’s long association with the Rose contest.

Paddy has also made Lisselton the permanent home of his culchie contest.

“The definition of a culchie, according to the Oxford master dictionary, is a rustic person, one who comes from the country, a provincial - which can be male or female,” said Paddy.

“While females cannot enter the festival they can be part of it, because we have female escorts for all of the contestants and we have a competition especially designed to cater for women called Women in Wellies.”

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