herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Quit the 'lovely girls' rubbish - Rose boss

the Rose of Tralee is not paddy whackery or Stepford Wives, the festival boss Anthony O'Gara has claimed.

Mr O'Gara (inset) last night lashed out at commentary on the festival describing it as "boorish nonsense from uninformed opinion writers".

Misconceptions

In a strongly-worded letter, Mr O'Gara set out to put the record straight on what he terms are "misconceptions" about the Rose of Tralee International Festival, which he says are "foisted on the unsuspecting public" by "zealous, angry and misguided social commentators".

Although Mr O'Gara does not mention the newly-crowned Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh who revealed she was gay - except to say that she will be on the Late Late Show on Friday night - it is thought his remarks were sparked by commentary since the story emerged she was the first lesbian to wear the crown.

He notes the festival is about celebrating exceptional women and accepting them as "the proud people they are, whatever that might be".

Mr O'Gara, who is credited with turning around the fortunes of the popular festival since becoming chief executive in 2004, said while the organisers were "not sensitive to criticism", they asked for fairness in commentary about the festival.

Colleens

"The Rose of Tralee is not all about paddy whackery, colleens on parade, Stepford Wives tricked out as national stereotypes, flagrant misogyny or masquerading as Irish culture," he writes.

He goes on to say they chose judges who wanted to find a relevant, independent, modern woman to represent the Irish diaspora with pride and that was their only concern.

He also points out the festival's economic value which is estimated to be worth €12m to Tralee as well as the charities that benefit from their association with it.

"Please, get over the outdated 'lovely girls' joke," he wrote.

"This bandwagon has long since lost its wheels after being so laden-down with the prejudices of uninformed bolony of the faux intellectuals who trip over each other to impress their peers," Mr O'Gara added.

hnews@ireland.com

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