The second and final half of the annual festival takes place tonight, and while organisers are keeping tight-lipped about which lovely lady will be Maria Walsh’s successor, sources have hinted at another wild night ahead.
“We’ve some great party pieces, we’ve a few stunts as well, and we’ve some great stories,” Dáithí teased, though he would say no more than that.
Word on the Rose Walk is that there will be some more celebrity appearances for a couple of lucky young Roses, while a famous cup will also be popping up.
And whether the rumours of a mermaid hold up, RTÉ would still be hard-pressed to top last night’s off-the-wall addition to the Rose of Tralee archives.
London Rose Aisling Hillary kicked off proceedings with a haunting rendition of Mary Black’s ‘No Frontiers’, despite being hoarse after a Rose versus escort sing-off the night before. She was followed by Kerry Rose Julett Culloty, who emotionally told viewers about her battle with cancer.
The 25-year-old recited a moving poem, appropriately titled ‘Don’t Quit’, and was rewarded with a special message and autograph from her favourite jockey, Jim Culloty, who, we’re told, is no relation.
Taking a definite turn for the peculiar, Cork Rose Aoife Murphy stunned the crowd with her wacky science experiment, turning hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.
“It’s like a fun experiment I do with secondary school students to show them how fun science is and to try and promote science,” she said before she went on stage. “It’s called elephant toothpaste because it looks like toothpaste squirting out of a tube.”
A research nutritionist from Mallow, Aoife was causing a stir even before the live show started when she casually whipped out a pair of binoculars that used to belong to Michael Collins.
The family heirloom was passed down to her from her great-grandfather, Jack Burrow, who fought with Collins in the War of Independence.
“My granddad gave me the binoculars and he had them because his father, my great-grandfather, fought alongside Michael Collins in the War of Independence in the Munster area and, after Michael Collins died, he would have kept those binoculars,” she said.
“Every time we went over to granddad’s house we looked at them and then I did a big project on them.
“I actually won a prize for the project. It was like a Cork school’s history project and my granddad was so proud that I did it he gave them to me. He’s passed away since so it’s really nice that I have them.”
Meanwhile, back on the Dome stage, Melbourne Rose Joy Kerrigan was also stirring something, but it wasn’t nearly as palatable.
The 24-year-old decided to take part in a spot of dung-spitting, even soliciting up-for-anything host Dáithí to take part. The bizarre sport is practised by the Afrikaner community in South Africa, where Joy was born, and even has its own world championship competition.
Wicklow Rose Megan Swart was the unwitting recipient of a special video message from Westlife star Nicky Byrne. The 18-year-old Leaving Certificate student, who has just received and accepted her CAO offer to study international hospitality management in Dublin Institute of Technology, revealed that she once fainted in front of the star at a Westlife concert.
Thankfully the Rose, who wowed the crowd in a stunning black-and-white sequined dress, managed to keep her cool this time around, while Southern California Rose Lauren Waller rocked the Dome with a passionate singing performance.
Nobody in the crowd could quite believe she had once gone for The X Factor and been turned down.
Whether any of last night’s performances affected the bookies’ odds on the contest remains to be seen. As of last night, New York Rose Sophie Colgan was the favourite, coming in at 9/4 on Paddy Power.
Meath Rose Elysha Brennan was second at 4/1 followed by Cork Rose Aoife Murphy, 7/1, and Perth rose Denise Lynch, 9/1.
Every year, upwards of half a million people tune in to watch the Rose of Tralee live shows. Last year, an average of 694,000 watched the final, with a further 100,000 watching on the RTÉ Player.