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The pale moon was rising

August 14th 2023

Well, it’s hard to believe that 12 months have passed since we welcomed last year’s 2022 bunch of contestants for the annual Rose of Tralee competition to Gorey town.

We have another lovely group of young women in town for three days from August 11th to 14th They are all of Irish descent from all over the globe gathering in a bonding exercise in the Ashdown Hotel, which was a haven of welcome for all visitors.

We will hear the beautiful Rose of Tralee love song sung starting with “The pale moon was rising above the green mountain, And Mary all smiling sat listening to me”.

The Mary referred to in this love song was Mary O Connor who was the beautiful daughter of a local shoemaker living in the appropriately named Brogue Lane at the bottom of Rock Street, Tralee. For visitors to the town of Tralee many of you will have seen The Brogue Inn which is the territory we are speaking about.

She got a job minding children at age 17 and there she met William Pembroke Mulchinock, who was a protestant, and, in those days, mixed marriages were frowned upon. William was wrongly implicated in the death of a Daniel O Connell supporter, and he was forced to emigrate to India where he worked as a war correspondent. He returned to Ireland in 1849 to marry his Mary having got engaged to her before he left for India. On the day he returned to Tralee, there was a funeral of one Mary O Connor aged 29 years. William was broken hearted. He later met Alicia Keogh whom he married, emigrated to America, and had a family. This marriage broke up and William returned to Ireland in 1855. He turned to alcohol, did some writing, and died in Ashe Street, Tralee in 1864 aged 44 years.

It was in his final years here that he penned the last verse of The Rose of Tralee

In the far fields of India mid wars dreadful thunder

Her voice was a comfort and solace to me,

But the cruel hand of death has now rent us asunder,

I’m lonely tonight for my rose of Tralee.

We had a great evening in Gorey on Friday evening at 5pm when 32 roses arrived at the Garda Barracks to be welcomed by the Leas Cathaoirleach of Gorey /Kilmuckridge District Fionntán O Súilleabháin. Music and dance entertainment was provided by Ferns Comhaltas followed by a welcome refreshing drink after their long day spent by the roses in Wexford town.

They then proceeded down main Street stopping for a game of old-style skittles at Browne’s pub much to the enjoyment of the local experts and Roses alike.

Across the street Myles Doyle’s had a lovely window display with a short bio of the roses.

Followers of the Sydney Rose who hails from Ballyellis held a banner aloft and had a good humoured colourful supporting entourage on the main street.

There were several stops at business premises along the way. Many business premises went to extraordinary efforts in decorating their premises in a rose themed manner.

I just loved the Gas Lamp Gallery where there was an original painting of the town park in Tralee with the Rose of Tralee flower beds on display in the front window. Here we also had two harpists Molly Carrol and Niamh Byrne who were joined by the Mayo Rose giving a lovely tuneful recital. Several of the roses went into the gallery to view the beautiful painting of Tralee town park.

There was a lovely stop outside Synan O Mahoney’s design shop to view his lovely window display of Mary encased in a quarter of the moon. It was a truly creatively designed piece. Synan also decorated the lovely rose at the corner of Rafter Street and main street.

We admired Lily Blooms rose bedecked window while Sally Wests, Murt Washes, Liz Collins, La Crème Boutique, Funges, Fifth Avenue and Lipstick had very eye-catching displays and gave the roses a great welcome.

The House of Cards had a tasteful display of rose love hearts and roses in their windows ,being a gentle reminder that The Rose is a symbol of love and affection.All you need is love.

Tara Stores had a very nice rose bedecked window blind covering their main front display window, while there were fantastic chatty stops at Aidan Murphy’s, Partridges, Jalanda, Jack Dunnes, Mc Cauleys and many more incidental photos and autograph stops. There was also a nice welcoming window display by ChairFX Chair covers. His and Hers plus Halfords hairdressers also welcomed the roses as did Bookstation and Shoe Style International .

I loved the windows of Lu and Mol jewellers and Whitmore’s Jewellers. They were very creatively designed and executed with lovely visual effect.

The display in Dees La lingerie store was much admired while Michelle’s Curvy Boutique had red balloons by the score in a very eye-catching display and Eoin O Connors had nice rose displays.

Quinn’s auctioneers, Alders Jewellers and Skyfall had lovely discreet welcome signs in their windows while The Loch Garman Hotel doors left you in no doubt that roses were in town.

Complements to Gorey / Kilmuckridge Municipal Authority for the very nice welcoming signs on the front of The Market House. Enable Ireland also had a beautiful window display.

The wine Buff had a lovely wine reception laid on as had Folk Restaurant which added great atmosphere to the carnival spirit on the street.

The roses were led downtown by two pipers. They were also entertained by the Caroline Fleming School of Dancers. The Gorey Ukes provided great music at the end of Esmonde Street in which the roses and others joined in.

Cahore in shore rescue service added greatly to the novelty and interest in this area with their rescue craft and separately people could pop out their heads through a boat hole and take photos.

I was joined by a few Kerry people living in Gorey and we had a nostalgic evening as we were carried along by the gaiety and friendliness of the occasion while we recalled festivals of old in Tralee.

A lot of the shops went to tremendous trouble in decorating their premises which was greatly appreciated by the roses and all the other visitors and followers.

It was a great fun lively evening for Gorey. It made me proud to be a Kerryman living in Gorey, who many years ago was stewarding at the festival in Tralee. Memories are made of this.

It was a well organised entertaining evening. Take a bow Gorey, you did yourself proud.


Mick O Callaghan

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