The Rose of Tralee

After two wonderful days in Dublin, we had to say good bye.

I really loved the time in Dublin. Not only because of Kevin, but also because the family really welcomed me in their home.
It was quite hard to say goodbye. D. even got a small present for me.
But saying good bye to Trixie was the hardest. I really fell in love with her and I was told that she also trusted me easily. Normally she would take longer to feel at ease with someone new, but she stayed with me just after one day already. It could have also been because I rubbed her without a break. But let’s just pretend it was because she’s half german and I’m german! 😉

At 11am we hit the road to TraleeCo. Kerry. My host mother (Sh.) is from Kerry and her father lives in Tralee.
At 1pm we stopped for lunch in Adare.
After lunch we went for a small walk through Adare and the park. It is a nice small town and is quite famous for their cottages with the thatched roofs.

Around 3pm we got going again and finally arrived at 4.15pm at the house of my host mothers father. I then had time till 6.30pm to walk around for a bit or just relax in my room. But at 6.30pm we went to Sh.’s sister in law for dinner. She is married to Sh.’s oldest brother, but he was in italy during that time.
Dinner was really nice, but I was quite happy when we were back at 10.15pm so I could finally go to sleep.

The next morning started nice and slowly. At 12.15pm we went to collect the boys cousin and then drove to the beach. They played around at the beach and waited till the others would arrive. Sh. brother has triplets, one boy and two girls. We only picked up the boy, since the girls were at a friend’s house. So at around 1.30pm the girls arrived with their mother.

The Magherabeg beach in Castlegregory is really nice. They even got two attraction booth, which offered canoe, paddle boat and trampolines on the water.  To keep the boys and girls occupied, the parents booked first paddleboat and then a water trampoline for them. When they came back we had a nice picnic at the beach.

Afterwards we left the beach and the boys went with their cousins. My host parents and I went back home, where we arrived around 5pm. Once again I had time to relax until we had dinner at 7pm. This time everyone came to the grandfather’s house to enjoy dinner.

At 9.45pm my day ended.

Thursday morning started quite late again. After breakfast and a short briefing of the area I started my way to the Tralee Town Center at 12pm.
Even though Tralee is really small, I actually managed to get lost, but you can always ask for the way and they will be glad to help you. At 12.30pm I finally found my way into the town center.


Welcome to Tralee – Streetsign

The biggest attraction there must be Penny’s (Irish version of Primark), no just kidding. But really the town is so much smaller than Oxford, but got a bigger Primark/Penny’s. But they’ve also got a Vero Moda (the first one I’ve been into since I left Germany) and a United Colours of Bennetton Store.
After I checked out the shopping qualities of Tralee, I stopped at Costa’s for a little Coffee break.

At 5pm I finally started the tourism part of the day and went to the Tralee Town Park. A must see for every park lover. The park is, compared to the town quite big and has a few attractions inside. There is, for example the Siamsa Tíre, which is a folklore theatre.
The Ashe Memorial Hall, which houses the Kerry County Museum and the Tourist Office, is at the end of Denny Street and is surrounded by the park.

Until the Tralee Urban District Council purchased the park in 1922 it was part of the private estate of the Denny family. In 1986 the Rose Garden was developed and now contains over 600 rose bushes of different varieties. The most noteworthy must be the Rose of Tralee, a hybrid tea rose developed by Sam McGready of Portadown, Co. Armagh and was presented in 1965. Some of the roses were presented as gifts to the park. Among those are the Goldstein roses, presented to Tralee by its German partner town of Frankfurt-Höchst in 2012. Other varieties include Samaritan presented by the Irish Samaritans, Diana Princess of Wales and the modern floribunda rose: Rhapsody in Blue.

In the middle of the Rose Garden is a life-size bronze sculpture of the poet and composer William Pembroke Mulchinock and his sweetheart, Mary O’Connor, the original Rose of Tralee. William is presenting Mary with a rose as a sign of his everlasting Love for her. The Sculpture was sculpted by the famous Irish sculptor Jeanne Rynhart (other works include Molly Malone, Dublin and Annie Moore on Ellis Island, NY) and the figures were cast by Séamus Connolly at his foundry in Kilbaha, Co. Clare.


The Rose of Tralee sculpture in the Rose Garden

To mark the Golden Jubilee of the festival the sculpture was unveiled in 2009. In 2013 the glass Rose Wall of Honour was designed and erected by Tralee Town Council to salute all those honoured on this wall as Rose Finalists and all those who have worked tirelessly over the years in Tralee, Ireland and overseas to make the festival the international success that it has become since 1959. It was officially unveiled on the 15th of August to contribute to the Gathering 2013 celebrations.

The Festival itself has its very own history. It is based on the song The Rose of Tralee, composed by William Pembroke Mulchinock (1820-64), who fell in love with the beautiful Mary O’Connor. Because of the difference in social class, their relationship was discouraged by Williams family and he was sent to India. When he returned some years later he found that Mary had died. He was heart-broken and expressed his love for her in the song The Rose of Tralee.

It all started with the Tralee Carnival of 1958, which also included the selection of a Carnival Queen. A group of local business people were inspired and organised a new and expanded version of the Carnival based on the Mulchinock ballad. Based on personality rather than good looks, young women of Kerry and later Irish heritage would be selected as the International Rose of Tralee for that year and would become an ambassador for Tralee, County Kerry and Ireland.

The opening Rose of Tralee International Festival in 1959 was a resounding success with Alice O’Sullivan from Dublin becoming the first Rose. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Rose Centres were established in Ireland, Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Centres in Europe, the Middle East and Far East were later added, wherever Irish people had settled. There are currently over 70 Rose of Tralee Centres worldwide. Through this annual celebration, the Rose of Tralee International Festival continues to connect the Global Irish Community at home and abroad.


The official ‘Rose of Tralee’ sign

In 1967 the Rose Selection was broadcasted on live television for the first time by Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ) from a stage erected outside the Ashe Memorial Hall in Denny Street. Later on it took place in the Rose Dome – a large tent – to accommodate the growing numbers wishing to attend the selection event. The Dome will be set up every year just for the festival. The Rose selection is one of the most watched live entertainment events on Irish television.

The selection of the winning Rose is the centerpiece of the 5 day festival. It will take place each year in mid August with parades, concerts, free street entertainment, horse and greyhound racing, air shows, firework displays, children’s amusements and Fossett’s Circus. With so much going on it remains Ireland’s main festival, attracting thousands of visitors each year. You can find all the news about the Roses, their Escorts and the Festival Timetable on the website, here.

This years Rose of Tralee International Festival took place from the 17th to 23rd of August. So our first night in Tralee was the last night of the Festival. Not only did it end with the selection of the Rose of Tralee, but also with a firework display. The fun fair, which was on a place near the park, stayed for a bit longer and I was able to see it while I was in the Town Center two days after the end of the Festival.

The Rose Garden is really nice and has more sculptures than only the Rose of Tralee sculpture. But the Rose Garden is not the only Garden inside the park. There is also the Garden of the Senses right next to the Rose Garden. It was designed to appeal to the five senses and was inspired by Soroptimist International Tralee and District in 2000. There are four sculptures to represent a sense:

  1. Sight: Standing Stone
    The Stone is aligned with Queen Scotia’s Glen on Sliabb Mis Mountain and looks back to a mythical time when the Milesians defeated the great Tuatha de Danann and Scotia’s son Amergin named the island ‘Eire’.


    First Sense – Sight: Standing Stone

  2. Taste: Gauldron of the Dagda
    In ancient Ireland. The Dagda (the Great God) possessed one of the four treasures of the Tuatha de Danann, a vessel of endless beauty ‘from which none returned unfulfilled’. This sculpture features a drinking fountain.


    Second Sense – Taste: Gauldron of the Dagda

  3. Touch: Henge
    A modern, rhythmic and tactile response in stone to an important neolithic settlement site discovered at Ballycarty, outside Tralee in June 1996.


    Third Sense – Touch: Henge

  4. Sound: Horns of Clogherclemin
    A hoard of bronze age horns was found in a bog at Clogherclemin, Tralee in 1875. This interactive sculpture pays tribute to the craftsmanship of the ancient Irish.


Fourth Sense – Sound: Horns of Clogherclemin

After I went through the Garden of the Senses and the Rose Garden, I went through the Park itself and left it through the main entrance to come back on Denny Street. From there I made my way back home at 5.45pm.

Because my host parents went out for dinner and the boys stayed at their cousins house, I was all on my own and used the free time to pack all my stuff.

The next day we would drive to the last stop and then would start the trip back home.
The time in Tralee was really nice, too. But you just can’t compare it to Dublin. Even though it has its own charme.

Only one day left in Ireland.

Vicky xx


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