The Rose of Tralee
Tralee : The Rose of Tralee festival takes place every August. The basic legend was immortalised in song . A young woman is nominated to represent her city/region every year and the event is televised live, where they have a chat with the host about themselves, interests and why they should be The Rose of Tralee. Unlike Ms Universe, there's no swimsuit competition - this is very pristine and above board. Throughout the festival, each Rose is paired off with a male escort (though if they have boyfriends, they can be their escort). Judges make their decision on how the Roses behave throughout Festival week with the general public, escorts etc. It's a pile of green Paddywhackery but it brings in the tourists, so what the hey.
Home Sweet Home
"Can I stay?"
Our night in Tralee was very special. We had visited the Muckross House and toured the ring of Kerry. Like I mentioned on my Kerry page, that day the Co. Kerry did not win the All Ireland Football Championship. However that night, there was gaiety in the air, good craic in the pubs and perhaps a pint or two in our blood.
Our hotel was across the street from a lovely park with some graves. The gardener there, at least I think he was, was hitting on me and wanting me to meet him in a bar later on…. which I declined. Those Irishmen are quite the sweet talkers :-).
"I really want to stay!"
Later on we did go to a pub, we ended up at the Sean Og’s just down the street from the hotel. There we were surprised to find a party going on given the result of the football match earlier that day. Fiddles were playing, people dancing, not one sober person that night… just what we expected from a pub in Ireland.
Back at the hotel, while my roommate slept, a feeling of belonging engrossed me. I don’t know if it was the Guinness or the place, but at that moment I did not want to go back home.
“And when the pale moon rises o'er the green mountain, And the sun is declining beneath the blue sea, We dream of those lovers by the pure crystal fountain - For they live in our hearts in this vale of Tralee” – The Rose of Tralee.
Trip to Tralee
"Deciding to Go"
Son Paul moved to Tralee in 2000 and in Jan 2003 came to visit us in Rossville with his Irish fiance, Bernie. Of course they were wishing we could come to Ireland for the wedding in March, but it looked rather hopeless at that time.
After the visit, it was quite glum around here as we got back to our normal routine. Family discussions about the trip were going nowhere until the real issue emerges- husband REALLY does not want to FLY. Once I knew the problem, I knew I wanted to make the trip even if I had to do it on my own. Except I didn't want to leave 2-yr-old Abbie, who has never been away from me overnight. A bit more discussion the next night and Rick signs for her passport application (required here in the USA). I had already had the photos taken, so the next morning we filed with expedited processing. Our passports were back in a week. I got online and ordered our plane tickets- those were delivered 2 days later. We are on our way!
Just after noon on March 12th, Abbie and I boarded the shuttle bus from Chattanooga to the Atlanta airport. It made several stops and missed an exit, so we got there around 4pm. Once I got the big bag checked, I had an easier time with everything. I found a phone to let Rick know we were there, then we got a little something to eat. By then it was time to find where to go and get through security & all that.
At the security checkpoint, I was nervous when others were taking off their shoes, but decided to wait until I was told to do anything. The only thing we were stopped on was Abbie's BLANKIE, which they made her give up and send through the xray machine- yep, a real terrorist threat there! Otherwise we didn't even "beep" and it went fine. When we got out on the concourse, Abbie got her first sight of the planes and now started getting quite excited. It wasn't too long before they started letting us board. Going over we had side window seats to ourselves, and this worked wonderfully. Her biggest amusement during the flight was the earphones and all the buttons on the armrest. Actually, going over, by the time they fed us, it wasn't too long until Abbie's bedtime and I was able to get her settled for most of the flight without any problems. She slept until about an hour before we landed, and we got to see the sun rise over Ireland! Beautiful!
At Shannon Airport, everything was easy except lugging the big bag around. I was able to exchange my money there. Paul & Bernie were waiting for us when we got through the last doors, then it was over an hour's drive to Tralee. The countryside in that area looked very much like east TN.
I had expected to get some rest after we got there, but the plan was for us to go meet Bernie's family. After awhile there, we all went for a walking tour of downtown Tralee and saw where Paul worked. Drove out to see Tralee Bay and let the kids get some exercise...
Dinner at Bernie's folks' home, then we finally got to the B&B to settle in for the night.
"The Rest of the Trip"
Thursday was the wedding. We were around the folk's house all morning and the ceremony was held at 330pm. It was a civil service followed by a lavish reception, dinner and dance at a nearby hotel. We were told it was "small" by Irish standards, but seemed like a big affair to me! At 1100pm when Paul told me they were "just getting started", we hailed a taxi and Abbie & I went back to our room for the night.
Friday morning we went into town and did a little gift shopping. Later we all went out for a tour of the Dingle Peninsula. This was just spectacular!
Saturday morning Abbie & I set out to "sight-see" Tralee on our own. The museum was closed on the weekend, a big disappointment, but she got some exercise in their lovely Great Park. We stopped for coffee on the way back in one of the little shops... That evening there was a dinner out for the family, and we dropped in on Paul's friend & best man Brendon. We were late back to the room, and I still had all the packing to do!
Sunday we had to get started early to make it to Shannon in time to do all the necessary things to make the flight in time. Coming home, we were in aisle seats, and this didn't work nearly as well. Abbie napped barely an hour after take-off, and then was wide awake & active the remaining 6 hours of our flight. Even though she behaved well, it was truly a tiresome flight.
Back in Atlanta, at what was now 3pm EST, we still had to get the bags and had a 2 hour shuttle back to Chattanooga. We arrived about 8pm Sunday night.
It was exhausting and too rushed to see or do very much, but I would take nothing for the experience and am grateful we had the chance to go!