But what do they look like in bikinis?
There are few things in Ireland that I feel you can still call "Irish". I actually don't like that statement and usually say to people who make it "The Ireland that you see now IS the actual Ireland -- you are looking for the Disney version" but there are point in my habitation here where I have to stand back and go, damn, that IS SO Irish. Last night's crowning of the The Rose of Tralee is one of them.
What is The Rose of Tralee? In the words of Father Ted is it essentially a "Lovely Girl Competition". The judges don't rate looks; if you give a glance at the site above you'll see most of these girls have a face only a mother could love (and even that's a stretch); and the "party piece" portion of each girls' interview consists of bad singing, bad Irish dancing, poetry reading or even nothing at all, so you have to know it's not a talent competition either. It is quite literally a competition to suss out who is the loveliest girl in Ireland and even then it's not JUST for Ireland. Girls who claim "Irish Heritage" as way back as their great-grandparents can enter the competition. What you really have is a group of 32 somewhat unattractive women, most of whom have dyed red hair and bad teeth. Something this homegrown, this slightly awkward, this country is very Irish to me, and so I think it's quaint and sweet.
I am sad to say though that as lame as this competition sounds, I sat there last night watching it. Multiple times I had the option of turning it off and watching something questionally better but instead I kept sitting there yelling at the TV, "THE ROSE FROM TORONTO IS OUR WINNER," then, "NO, NO, THE FRENCH ROSE INSTEAD!" because this is the girl who said, into a microphone, "I want a husband one day -- but one that is there forever." Obviously, I can pick a winner with my eyes closed. It's my greatest gift.
At the end of the night it was the New York Rose that took home the over-sized mess of a crown. I suppose if it had to be an American and not my unlucky in love French Rose, at least is was the New Yorker that was the lovelist of all. And her teeth weren't bad either.