What the weather was doing was of little consequence to the Roses, who braved the water at Banna strand and ended up drenched anyway, dresses and sashes and all.
Toronto Rose, Colombe Nadeau-O’Shea, was just relieved to have an opportunity to kick off her shoes.
“I try to sneak in a few rests here and there. They do prepare you for the madness,” she said. “It’s hard not to enjoy every second of it, despite the exhaustion — and the feet.”
As the festival enters its final days, there has been a flurry of activity at the bookies, where Down Rose, Orlagh McNally, has emerged as a firm favourite, with odds of 10/3. And disregard the bookies at your peril — they’ve had an uncanny knack of predicting the winners overs the years.
But the 23-year-old newly qualified doctor was just
enjoying being treated like “royalty”. “Everyone has just treated us like royalty. I didn’t know how it was going to get any better, but it has. The word I’d use is ‘magical’,” she said.
Other favourites include San Francisco Rose, Amanda Donohoe (7/2), who lost her sister, Ashley, and cousin, Olivia Burke, in the Berkeley balcony collapse two years ago. The 20-year-old student of physics and maths, at the University of Nevada, said her involvement in this year’s festival had helped ease her family’s pain.
Dublin’s Maria Coughlan and Sydney’s Aisling Walsh are both at 4/1.
But Maria was taking it all in her stride. “I’m more delighted to be representing my community of Malahide and my GAA club, which put me forward. It feels like, for them, it was all worth it,” she said.
For 32 finalists, the dream of being crowned Rose of Tralee ended on Saturday, when reigning Rose, Maggie McEldowney, broke the news at a private breakfast attended by the Roses, their families, and co-ordinators from the various Rose centres.
Although their disappointment was obvious, they put on brave faces and were
assured they were still part of the celebrations, which won’t end until everyone goes home on Wednesday.
Unlike other years, the 64 finalists will all be present in the front rows of The Dome on Monday and Tuesday nights, cheering on those who were lucky enough to make it that far.
“I’m over the disappointment, now, at this stage, and looking forward to what still lies ahead and I still have all my friends here,” said Cavan Rose, Paula McPartland.
Mayo Rose, Sandra Ganley, said she still had the year ahead to look forward as the Mayo Rose, and could at least watch the All-Ireland semi-final replay now, without the distractions of the festival.
“Obviously, I’m a tiny bit upset and I would have loved to have represented Mayo on national television, but that’s the way it goes,” she said.
Meath Rose, Anne Lynam, said it was a “long morning”, but took consolation in the delight of those who were chosen and said she was happy for them and would be proud to sit in The Dome tonight, wearing her Meath sash.
Wexford’s Julie Sinnott, said: “You know, it’s 10
minutes out of 10 days and 10 minutes on stage is a very short time. I’ve been celebrating since I was selected on April 1 and, hopefully, I’ll continue to celebrate my turn as the Wexford Rose for the rest of the year,” she added.
The 58th International Rose of Tralee will be broadcast live from The Dome at 8pm tonight, when the first 18 will be interviewed by host, Daithí Ó Sé. The new Rose will be announced
tomorrow night, after Ó Sé introduces the final 14.