4 June 2018
By Elaine Murphy
Eleven is clearly the magic number for land custodians and Corkmen this year with 11 of each making the cut to be among the 58 men chosen to be Rose Escorts at the Rose of Tralee International Festival.
The annual Rose of Tralee Rose Escort Boot Camp took place along the Wild Atlantic Way in Kerry over the Bank Holiday Weekend resulting in 58 men being shortlisted to accompany the Roses in Tralee at this year’s Festival from 17th to 21st August.
The lads, who already came through an interview process at the Glen Royal Hotel in Maynooth in April, had to pass a number of endurance tests and team-building exercises before they could graduate as fully-fledged Rose Escorts.
Cork has the highest representation with 11 Rose Escorts, followed by Kerry, Dublin and Limerick with four each while one young gentleman will travel from Washington D.C. to be a part of the fun in Tralee.
Apart from the farmers in the camp, a wide range of professions have featured among the profiles of this year’s 58 Rose Escorts with two doctors, five teachers, a nurse, distiller and forester to name a few.
The Rose of Tralee International Festival’s Communications Manager, John Drummey, said: “The Rose Escorts spent three days in Kerry where they undertook a number of gruelling, yet fun, tasks to prepare them for the festival in August. The Boot Camp weekend in the Kingdom is a team-building exercise that is also designed to help them cope with the demands of a busy week in Tralee. We are particularly grateful to our friends in Kerry County Council for putting together such a packed programme of activities throughout the magnificent Kingdom of Kerry.”
The lads, all aged 21 to 30, had to carry out a range activities including a hike over Mount Brandon – Ireland’s second highest mountain – cliff diving, water-skiing, cookery, swimming, kayaking, surfing, ironing and sewing in order to prove they will have the stamina to be a Rose Escort.
This year’s Rose Escort Boot Camp activities were supported by Kerry County Council and Kerry Civil Defence, under Civil Defence Officer Tom Brosnan and Kerry Fire Service, who played a major role in the transport and logistics of the event.
Over the course of the weekend, the Rose Escorts experienced the visitor facilities in Castlegregory, Ballyheigue, Banna Strand, Dingle, Kerry Head, Tralee.
Looking ahead to the year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival, one of the 58 lads will be selected as the Rose Escort of the Year live on RTÉ One on Monday 20th August.
The 2017 Escort of the Year, Thomas Lynch from Castleisland, Co Kerry, said: “Being from Kerry, I was always a huge fan of the Festival. I grew up watching the parades, going to the Town Park and enjoying the selections on TV, so when a friend of mine suggested I sign up to be Rose Escort, it was really a no-brainer. It’s such a fantastic week with so much packed in it’s hard to choose highlights. There are three key moments that stick out: 1) Seeing my Rose’s awe at the huge crowd at the Saturday parade; 2) Sitting on the float with [Rose of Tralee] Jenny at the Midnight Madness Parade; and 3) Seeing how happy my mother was when I was announced as the Rose Escort of the Year.”
The 2018 Rose of Tralee International Festival will take place from 17th to 21st August when a full line-up of FREE family-fun entertainment is planned for the streets of Tralee with The High Kings, Jake Carter, Sean and Conor Price, Hermitage Green, Oasis Tribute Band, Neil Diamond Tribute Act and Rolling Stones Tribute Band. The Dome will play host to the Rose Ball, OktoberFest, Fashion Show and televised selections presented by Dáithí Ó Sé.
Full details of this year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival are available from www.roseoftralee.ie.