Pictures: A look back at some Cork Roses on what would have been the 61st festival

Pictures: A look back at some Cork Roses on what would have been the 61st festival

Marty Whelan with Cork Rose Olivia Walsh and Limerick Rose Paula Glynn, 2001. Picture: Maxpix.

The festival was set to run from August 21-25 this year but has now been postponed to August 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement issued back in April, organisers said they had been discussing how to safely deliver some or all of the 2020 festival, but considering health guidelines, a decision was made to postpone the festival.

The 1996 Cork Rose, Helen O'Sullivan pictured with former Cork Rose, Denise Murphy. Picture: Dan Linehan.
The 1996 Cork Rose, Helen O'Sullivan pictured with former Cork Rose, Denise Murphy. Picture: Dan Linehan.

"The impact of Covid-19 continues to be felt worldwide and our thoughts are with all of those who have been affected by the very sad losses this pandemic is causing.

"These are unprecedented times for all and the health and safety our communities remains the utmost concern.

"Over the past few weeks, our team have been considering how best we could safely deliver some, or all, of our 2020 festival events.

"Taking into account government guidelines, the safety of our communities and the ability to deliver a wonderful festival; we have decided to postpone our 2020 festival until August 2021," they said.

The 1998 Cork Rose, Audrey Mongan.
The 1998 Cork Rose, Audrey Mongan.

"This is the first time in our 61 year history that the festival has been postponed, but it is the right decision as we all play our part right now in keeping each other safe and well," the statement continued. 

The festival first began in 1959, on a budget of just £750 and was born out of the desire to boost tourism in Tralee.

Initially, only women from Tralee were eligible to take part but this was later extended to include any women of Irish birth or ancestry.

A Cork Rose has been crowned Rose of Tralee on three occasions, in 1961, 1991 and in 1999. 

Ray D'Arcy holds back Kerry Rose Colleen Shannon (left) and Cork Rose Patricia Cotter, who got into some friendly banter ahead of their counties meeting in the All-Ireland Football Semi Final. Photo credit: Julien Behal / PA.
Ray D'Arcy holds back Kerry Rose Colleen Shannon (left) and Cork Rose Patricia Cotter, who got into some friendly banter ahead of their counties meeting in the All-Ireland Football Semi Final. Photo credit: Julien Behal / PA.

The first Cork woman to win the coveted title was 22-year-old Josie Ruane.

An Echo article from May 1, 1961, reported that Ms Ruane was selected out of a group of 19 others to represent Cork that year.

"Miss Josie Ruane (22), a window dresser and formerly of 104 Cathedral Road, Cork drove from Dublin to Cork yesterday and was last night crowned as Cork’s Rose of Tralee representative," the article stated.

In 1991, Denise Murphy dominated the conversations about the festival for her sartorial choices.

Denise Murphy, the Cork Rose for 1991.
Denise Murphy, the Cork Rose for 1991.

Ms Murphy set a new trend for future roses after she wore a two-piece which enabled the skirt to be removed for her Irish dancing piece - much to the surprise of the then host Gay Byrne. 

When Murphy returned home to Blackrock after she was crowned the 1991 Rose of Tralee, she was welcomed home with a "rip-roaring" reception, as an Echo article from August 31 highlights.

"Family and friends in every house around her home in Meadow Grove worked all morning to prepare a sumptuous garden party where they toasted the health and happiness of the new Rose who plans to wed her fiancé Tomas O’Sullivan next year.

The 2014 Cork Rose Anna Geary met fans Patrick Earley Mulcahy and LuLu Earley at the English Market in Cork. Picture: Des Barry. 
The 2014 Cork Rose Anna Geary met fans Patrick Earley Mulcahy and LuLu Earley at the English Market in Cork. Picture: Des Barry. 

"Also giving her a hearty welcome were her grandparents Paddy and Nora Madden. 

"'We’re so proud of her. She’s a great girl,' said her grandfather. 

"Paddy, a dedicated player with Blackrock GAA Club, spoke of his granddaughter’s prowess on the camogie field when she played with the famous Rockies as a juvenile," the article stated.

The third and most recent win for Cork occurred in 1999 when Geraldine O'Grady was crowned Rose of Tralee. 

More in this section

Sponsored Content