Daughter of heroin addicts steals the show at Rose of Tralee

They said it was outdated as corsets, but anyone watching last night’s Rose of Tralee festival must have gasped at the question; “Tell me about the time you found out you were pregnant”.

And so it was that platinum blonde Carlow Rose Shauna Ray Lacey, a bookie with a baby, whose parents had both been heroin addicts, laid to rest any ghost of a notion that Ireland’s longest running beauty pageant is somehow behind the times.

The quest for relevance, kick-started two years ago by Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins with her call for a referendum to repeal the Eighth, was shoved so far along the line of being meaningful to young women of the 21st century, that maybe Shauna should get a special award for making the show germane.

At any rate, she should get one for bravery, telling the dome, as well as a massive global TV audience, that yes, she was raised by drug addict parents, and gave birth to a child out of wedlock, aged 21.

Shauna’s story, a far cry from the usual job interview, stole the show, although other Roses also put in memorable performances.
Visually, the sight of a slight Westmeath Rose power-lifting Dáithí O’Shea was the video clip of the night. Leanne Quinn, who can lift more than her own body weight, had three heavies on stage to ensure our host didn’t meet an ignominious end.

If he had, there was a nurse in the wings, New York Rose Sarah Ward, who had earlier attempted to check Dáithí’s blood pressure through the jacket of a suit he was loathe to remove, even to show off his new non-Dad Bod.

New Zealand Rose Jolene McLaughlin rubbed noses with Dáithí, and told him she now lives in a land of 30m sheep, while she grew up on a farm with just 30 sheep in Donegal. She danced a fine reel with a bit of flamenco arm-movement thrown in, getting Dáithí’s pulse going once more.

And so on and on they came, Florida Rose Victoria Sexton with her classically trained voice and accent that Twitter compared to Michael Flatley; Alana Gallagher, Yorkshire Rose, an occupational therapist with a yen for Gaelic Football, Kerry Rose Celine O’Shea, who gave a big shout-out to the residents and staff of St Luke’s Home in Mahon, where she works in the area of dementia.

To give the Roses a break, the High Kings took to the stage, bringing us back down to earth with a bit of diddley-eye.

Mostly, though, the almost 60 year-old show, showed that it has moved with the times, with the possibility of further surprises tonight when the second batch of girls take to the stage.

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