Kilburn's Roses bloom

by Will Davies Emotions were high and competition fierce at the latest heat of one of Ireland s longest running festivals. Last Friday (May 1) eight young women from the Emerald Isle went head to head to get one step closer to being crow

by Will Davies

Emotions were high and competition fierce at the latest heat of one of Ireland's longest running festivals.

Last Friday (May 1) eight young women from the Emerald Isle went head to head to get one step closer to being crowned the Rose of Tralee.

A large crowd packed into the Corrib Rest pub in Salusbury Road, Queen's Park, to cheer on the candidates who were competing to be London's choice at the festival held in August in Tralee, County Kerry.


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Aine Kelly, 27, Genevieve Galvin, 27 and Charlene O'Leary, 25 were all picked to go through to the next heat at the Crown Moran hotel in Cricklewood Broadway on June 6, where they will compete with six others to be chosen as London's Rose for the festival.

Aine Kelly, a primary school teacher from Kensington, said: "I am really excited to be involved because of what it stands for, and because you are recognised for who you are and what you do.

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"I would be absolutely delighted if I were selected to be London's ambassador at the festival. Everybody watches it growing up - it's every Irish girl's dream to win."

The Rose of Tralee International Festival celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Travelling from the UK, America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Europe and the Middle East, every year more than 30 International Roses come to Tralee to compete for the title.

The winning Rose is the woman deemed to best match the qualities described in the traditional Irish song 'lovely and fair.'

Unlike beauty pageants, there is no swimwear section and contestants are not judged on their appearances but rather their personality and suitability to serve as ambassadors for the festival.

The festival is billed as a celebration of the 'aspirations, ambitions, intellect, social responsibility and Irish heritage' of modern young women.

During the festival the town's streets are transformed into a feast of parades, music, a circus and funfair, markets and live performances.

The winning Rose is crowned live in front of a TV and online audience of millions.

In recent years the festival has experienced financial difficulties but was eventually bailed out by the government.

For the first time in 2008 unmarried mothers were allowed to enter the contest.

This year the festival is scheduled to run from August 21 to 25.

w.davies@archant.co.uk

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