Cork-born Rose of Tralee 2012 Nicola McEvoy — who won the crown for Luxembourg — has been told the real benefits of winning are far more dazzling.
Speaking on RTÉ 2FM’s Breakfast with Hector show, live-wire host Ó hEochagáin took a page out of the Dáithí Ó Sé handbook on how to put a Rose at ease.
“You’ve got the power now to do lots more things than just be Rose of Tralee,” he began.
“You are allowed walk out in Croke Park whenever you want, so there’s no problem getting tickets for the All-Ireland football final. You have the power to read the nine o’clock news on RTÉ.
“You can turn up at any function — wedding, christening, baptism, wake, anything in the country — and just walk in the door and say: ‘Howya, I’m the Rose of Tralee’.
“And you have a lifetime membership to Copper Face Jacks — you do not have to queue,”
If there’s a suspiciously manly Meath Rose called Heidi Ní hEochagáin next year, we’ll all know why.
However, in case there was any confusion, Nicola — who is from Kerry Pike near Blarney but who emigrated two years ago after being unable to find work as a teacher — was happy to bring reality back to proceedings.
Speaking to reporters the morning after the night before, the woman who Dáithí said “wouldn’t stop kissing me on stage”, said she was still coming to terms with her win.
“When I woke up [yesterday] I looked over there was the beautiful crown and I said: ‘I wasn’t dreaming after all.’ It’s a fantastic feeling.
“My mother wanted to party all night long. I haven’t spoken to my grandparents yet but their house was hopping.
My granddad always sings ‘The Rose of Tralee’, it’s his party piece, so he’ll have to sing it again.”
Ah, the grandparents. Kinsale-based May and Jim McCarthy have won something of a cult following since their 26-year-old granddaughter was crowned by 2011 Rose Tara Talbot.
The pair, avid festival fans who felt the trip to Tralee was too far at their age, were quick to let every neighbour know the Luxembourg Rose’s Cork roots as they partied like teens on Tuesday night.
With such support, Nicola’s year in the role is likely to go off without a hitch, but it almost didn’t start that way. Ireland and Munster rugby legend Ronan O’Gara was meant to crown the winner on Tuesday, but is understood to have switched roles with 2011 winner Tara after a too-rough rehearsal crowning of a stand-in.
Please note: A Rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but she is never, ever, a rugby ball.
Despite its profile and coverage, the Rose of Tralee suffered its worst ratings in almost half a decade.
The live show’s audience was at its lowest since 2008. First-night audience levels fell by 50,500 since 2011, to 470,000, with a TV audience share of 34%.
This compares to 36.5% and 520,500 in 2011 and 40.5% in 2010; and 53% in 2009. The second-night average slumped to 688,500 — down 76,000, 228,800, and 66,500 viewers on 2011, 2010, and 2009.
A total of 892,000 watched at 11.14pm when Nicola McEvoy was crowned, down from 943,000 in 2011 and 1.074m in 2010 but higher than 2009’s 885,000 peak.
— Fiachra Ó Cionnaith
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Nicola on the celebrations that will follow this week
Nicola speaks about her shock at becoming this year's Rose
Nicola talks about her love of Kerry
The highlights of the festival for Nicola