The famous Rose of Tralee festival comes to Dunloy

The small village of Dunloy will be awash with beauty this Saturday 6th February as it welcomes The Rose of Tralee International Festival North Antrim heats to the Parish Centre in Dunloy at 8pm.

The Rose of Tralee is one of Ireland’s longest running festivals, formed in 1953 to bring young Irish women from all over the world to its gala in Co Kerry to celebrate Irish culture and heritage the heats in Dunloy are the first step on the path to the finals in Kerry.

The Festival as it is today stems from Tralee’s Carnival Queen, once a thriving annual town event, fallen by the wayside due to post-war emigration. In 1957 Race Week Carnival was resurrected in Tralee that featured a Carnival Queen. A year later a group of business people decided to revamp the Carnival in a way that would regenerate the town, encourage tourism and keep the race crowd in town overnight.

The new event would be called a festival and the carnival queen contest turned into a celebration of the Rose of Tralee song. Young women would also be sought from outside Tralee, and heats were held as far away as London, Birmingham, New York and Dublin with the help of local Kerry people living abroad.

Dunloy Cuchullians GAC are delighted to have been chosen as hosts and have a total of 18 vying for the title of North Antrim Rose with the winner of the pageant progressing to the next step the County Antrim finals to be held in Belfast.

18 girls from both Dunloy and neighbouring parishes will be taking part and will be showcasing not only their beauty but a range of talents including playing musical instruments, Irish Dancing, Singing and various other talents all under the care and attention of host Shane Elliott with musical accompaniment from Michael Mahwinny. There will be three judges from the official Rose of Tralee festival in attendance and they will be spending most of Saturday with the girls and at 8pm sharp the village will be out in force to welcome them to the parish centre for the final judging and each girl will be on stage for their interview and to showcase their talent.

The 18 ladies taking part are: Emear Rose Duggan, Ahoghill; Mariead Doherty, Dunloy; Frances McMahon, Dunloy; Erinn Elliot, Dunloy; Aisling Elliott, Dunloy; Jolene O’Kane, Dunloy; Rebecca McFarlane, Cloughmills; Ciara Devine, Cloughmills; Shakira O’Kane, Cloughmills; Dervela Elliott, Dunloy; Shannon O’Kane, Dunloy; Sarah Connolly, Loughgiel; Emear McKendry, Dunloy; Laura McQuillan, Dunloy

Erinn O’Neill, Dunloy; Kara Doherty, Dunloy; Trease Mulligan, Rasharkin; Shannon McNeilly, Cloughmills.