Beauties and a beast among first bunch

At last! At last! We can say it without fear of retribution!

The Rose of Tralee festival suffered the first official mad cow in its history last night, after the mystery live TV highlight of the Monday show had to be pulled moments before going on air.

In the lead-up to the Nine O’Clock News break, RTÉ bosses planned to sneak a milking cow into the festival dome in a tongue-in-cheek reference to Ottawa rose Avaleigh Eastman’s farming background.

In-on-the-gag Dáithí was prepped. The stool where he was to sit while receiving a lesson on milking was being positioned. Extra time had been allocated so the popular presenter could milk it, in every sense. And then… Then?... (Psst, that’s your cue)... Udder cow-tastrophy.

Less than five minutes before the Canadian beauty was due to banish understandable live TV nerves by making her Rose of Tralee pitch, and unknown to her, Daisy the cow was suffering her own form of stage fright.

Noticeably thrashing away inside her carrier outside, the “too lively” cow was deemed to be a health and safety risk, leaving a panicked Dáithí to fill the extra time with an endless stream of farming references — with a Tralee, TV and web audience oblivious to the last-minute moooo-ve.

While the Irish Examiner has been assured the entirely healthy Daisy has not been whisked away to that great restaurant in the sky as punishment, the consequences for the festival are more obvious.

Puns like “pull the udder one”, “I calf believe it” and “Roses fail first herdle” are due to stampede through Tralee for weeks to come. We apologise in advance.

Thankfully for festival organisers, who admirably took the faux pas on the chin, the remainder of the first part of the two-night live TV extravaganza went off without a hitch, with the usual array of bizarre stories, tales of worldwide Irishness and memorable talents taking centre stage.

Ottawa Rose Avaleigh’s interview went perfectly, allowing her to explain her previous title of Queen of the Furrow in Ontario — think Rose of Tralee contestants wearing a dress, sash and crown while ploughing a field.

Sports-mad student teacher Westmeath Rose Aisling Baker, 21, opened the show with tales of unemployment, stalking and Páidí Ó Sé. While none are related, she said her plan is “to go to Dublin with no job and try and get one, it’s seamless”, adding that she was loved up with her current boyfriend.

“He looks like a stalker,” whispered Dáithí, who was more impressed with her meeting Páidí. “Between Páidí and myself we have eight All-Ireland medals,” he said.

Chicago Rose Margaret Rose Keating confirmed her last boyfriend “broke up with me two days before he joined a seminary”, while Kerry’s Ann-Marie Hayes also showed why she is among the favourites. But just as eye-catching was German Rose Bronwyn Sass’s work admission.

It turns out air hostesses do flirt with co-pilots, even when the entire airport tower, flight crew and passengers are listening due to a computer “glitch”.

“It’s just you really spend your day on top of each other,” she said. “Hold on! This is the Rose of Tralee, not Podge ’n’ Rodge,” Dáithí stepped in.

Thankfully it didn’t happen on her flight with the Dalai Lama. We hear he prefers blondes.

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