The pale moon was rising in Gorey on Thursday August 11th
When I was growing up in Kerry there were some very special occasions. We became accustomed to welcoming Sam Maguire home on a regular basis. The All-Ireland winning football team and cup were paraded downtown to the Ashe Memorial Hall and there was frenzied excitement when the team was introduced to the assembled masses. At the end we all sang the Kerry Anthem “The Rose of Tralee’ with full vigour and gusto.
There was also another great annual event held in town and that was the annual Rose of Tralee Festival established in 1959. I was involved in manning the festival office over Hurley’s shop, Tralee in the early sixties and I remember all the excitement of the week.
One of our roles was finding enough stewards to supervise events.
I remember watching the floats as they came down the street carrying the roses while eager hands held out autograph books to be signed by the roses.
They came downtown on a Saturday night through packed streets starting off at Austin Stack Park, down Boherbee, on to Castle Street and winding their way to Denny Street and the Ashe Memorial Hall to be introduced to the waiting crowd. There was feverish excitement as each name was called and then we had the grand finale with the singing of The Rose of Tralee.
They were great times and for years later we took the pilgrimage road back to the Kingdom to join in the Festival of Kerry and renew friendships. Nowadays I watch the great show on RTE, and we are picking our winners and remembering times and people past.
Imagine my sheer joy and delight when I heard that the Roses were decamping themselves in the Model County for three days in August 2022. I walk around town a few nights a week and as I walked this week, I had a new adventure clicking rose displays in so many shop windows from the very simple to major works of artistry including the lovely rose on Main Street. This was a hugely successful venture and the fact that so many business stayed open late on Thursday added greatly to the atmosphere on the street.
Pictured above as part the welcome the Roses received with Irish Music & dancing performed by The Dunbar School of Music
My wife and I strolled down to the Garda Barracks to await their arrival in Gorey. As we left our house, we could hear the strains of bagpipe tunes wafting in the air and we saw a lone piper tuning up in readiness for the rose’s arrival.
At the barracks there was a great buzz and palpable excitement as the special bus and rose escort car with the roses pulled in. Some local escorts were on hand to lead them off and present each one of them with a single rose flower while the champagne glasses were topped up to greet the 33 roses who were stepping down on hallowed Gorey Ground.
There was some lovely Irish music and dancing provided for the Roses welcome.
Cameras were on overdrive while mobile phone users partially blocked the street in their excitement to click the group of lovely roses lined up on the barracks steps. I went to chat with the Kerry Rose, Edaein O Connell from Listowel and took a few photos.
I was delighted to meet and chat with the Wexford Rose, Joy Quigley who had been a past pupil in St Joseph’s Templerainey, Arklow.
Some of the images as the 2022 finalists
We also met the Perth Rose, Olivia Duffy originally from County Meath and related our connections with the city to her, having a family member settled there.
There was a great buzz around town as the 33 girls and their entourage made their way downtown stopping off at John Doyles, The Wine Buff, Jack Dunnes, a lovely photo shoot with Paschal and Caroline Whitmore and many more places along the route to The Ashdown Hotel viewing the many excellent Rose Festival window displays.
It made me so proud as a Kerryman living in Wexford for many years to see all the fantastic displays, the drinks cocktails, in addition to the enthusiastic reception accorded to local, national, and so many members of the huge Irish Diaspora involved in the Rose of Tralee annual festival extravaganza.
The Gorey Yukes added to the atmosphere with great feel good tunes and dancers even joined in!
It will be a great boost for Gorey and the whole of County Wexford when the roses go home and speak about the wholehearted welcome they received and all the attractions they have seen in Gorey and Wexford while being blessed with glorious sunshine and everywhere was looking their resplendent best.
We wish all the Roses the very best of good luck in the Rose of Tralee final during the Festival from Friday August 19th to Tuesday 23rd when a new rose will be crowned and be serenaded by a soloist singing the “Rose of Tralee”
It will be strange to see the TV show this year coming from a hall in MTU, Munster Technological University, Tralee instead of the traditional dome.
I will now look forward even more than usual to viewing the Rose Final on RTE after meeting so many of the contestants in Gorey.
Thanks to everyone who made that great trip to Wexford possible that evoked such great pride in the Kingdom and rekindled so many lovely memories of my youth in Tralee for me.
Thank you, Wexford,
Mick O Callaghan 11/08/2022
Gorey, Wexford, Ireland
How to get to Gorey