LIMERICK’S unlucky streak in the Rose of Tralee festival has now entered a seven-year hitch.
There was disappointment at the weekend as the Limerick Rose Dawn Ryan was not selected in the Regional finals in Portlaoise to make it through to the Dome in Tralee this August.
Host Dáithí Ó Sé interviewed 60 Roses over three nights last weekend before two judging panels selected 23 Roses to go forward to the festival in Tralee in August, which celebrates its 55th year this summer.
However, Denis Griffin, organiser of the Limerick Rose Centre, pointed out that Galway has not had a Rose in Tralee for 10 years, and believes that the strict selection process is not unfair.
“Obviously we’d love to have our Rose in Tralee, but if we thought the process was unfair we’d speak out about it. Dawn, like our other Roses, is a fantastic girl and we are 100% behind her,” he explained.
“It’s not that this is a slight against Limerick. God help the three judges who have to choose 23 Roses out of 60. It’s a lottery, and we make this very clear to all the girls who enter that this is the process,” he said.
Dawn, 21, said she was delighted to be the Limerick Rose for the coming year, and said that “to be selected as the 2014 Limerick Rose was the most amazing and surreal experience of my life”.
The Meelick woman, a care worker with Enable Ireland in Mungret, said she was “honoured to be representing Limerick this year, especially during the year of City of Culture.
Limerick has won the Rose of Tralee crown twice - in 1984 and 1994 - with Dianne Hannagen and Muirne Hurley taking home the tiaras.
But the county hasn’t had a finalist in the Dome in Tralee for the past seven years, which has sparked debate about the selection process.
Roses from Kerry, Cork, Dublin, Sydney, New Zealand, Darwin, Perth, Queensland and South Australia have automatic entry to the festival, as they have their own regional finals due to a larger number of entries.
Cork, for instance, had 55 entries to be the Rebel County’s representative this year - nearly three times the figure in Limerick.
In the Regional finals, those vying for a place in the Dome included Roses representing 29 counties in Ireland, 13 regions in the United States, as well as Scotland and eight cities in England, in addition to Melbourne, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Oman, Canada, Luxembourg and Germany.