Dáithí, who is once again hosting this year’s Rose of Tralee, revealed how he spent four years as a ringmaster in Duffy’s Circus, a period of his life he looks back on very fondly.
“How it happened was that I got a call from an Irish language group who wanted to bring the Irish language into the circus, and I didn’t hesitate to accept. It was all quite amazing and great fun. I did it for about four years and we actually travelled all outside the Gaeltacht area.
“One day you would be togged out in the fancy ringmaster’s clothes, complete with top hat, and the next day you would be wallowing in mud. I was dealing with snakes and crocodiles and all that kind of thing — and of course the clowns. Where would the circus be without the clowns? One would come out and trip over his own feet, and that was the funniest part of the whole show. It was priceless, just laughter all the way.”
Dáithí, 37, married his sweetheart Rita Talty, the 2008 New Jersey Rose of Tralee, at St Mary’s Church in Dingle, Co Kerry, in Jul 2012.
Dáithí also rebutted criticism of the festival, insisting it will always have a place in modern-day Ireland.
The Kerry broadcaster said people like to “have a pop at it” because it’s an easy target.
However, he insists the enduring contest has moved with the times and remains one of the most successful shows on Irish TV.
“Whenever I’m asked if I think that the competition is out of date in modern Ireland, I don’t agree,” he said.
“One of the reasons it’s so successful is that it is an event. Nobody wants to miss anything. As a nation, we have always been very nosey, and if there is anything happening we want to be in on it and know where it is going to happen — and if we can watch it at all, then all the better, either personally or on television.”
*This year, the festival will honour Donal Walsh, the 16-year-old from Blennerville who raised over €50,000 for Crumlin’s Children’s Hospital before dying of lung cancer. Tuesday, Aug 20, will be Donal’s Day, with street collections taking place for Kare 4 Kids charity and the Palliative Care Unit at Kerry General Hospital.
The Rose of Tralee pageant will run from Aug 14 to 20.