Rose Fest is a national treasure

The Rose of Tralee is amongst the most popular and successful events the country has ever produced.

It brings in thousands of visitors, is worth up to €10 million to the local economy, and remains one of RTÉ’s most-watched television broadcasts every year.

The Rose of Tralee is also one of the most successful promotional devices Ireland has ever created: apart from the Irish contingent, this year we have contestants from as far away as Melbourne, Germany and Abu Dhabi, as well as from all over the US and the UK.

The Rose is now an internationally celebrated event that has been part of Irish culture - and diaspora culture - for generations.

So why do we think we have to keep on defending it?

Every year, we have to read about how it’s not a Lovely Girls contest, that the contestants are smart, modern, well-educated women, and that the event itself is far from a mere throwback to an Ireland of a bygone era.

The thing is - in Kerry, we’ve known that for years. The sooner the rest of the country catches up, the better.

We don’t need to defend the Rose of Tralee Festival - we need to celebrate the Rose as a national treasure!

The fun begins this weekend - let’s get out and enjoy it.