The Rose of Tralee
Tralee is the county town of County Kerry in the south-west of Ireland. The town is on the northern side of the neck of the Dingle Peninsula, and is the largest town in County Kerry. Tralee is well known for the Rose of Tralee International Festival which has been held annually in August since 1959.
Image: Tralee Courthouse
What to see
The town has developed a range of visitor attractions.
Kerry County Museum - incorporating the theme park 'Kerry: The Kingdom' and an exhibit which depicts life in medieval Geraldine Tralee.
Siamsa Tíre - Ireland's National Folk Theatre, offering traditional music and plays in Irish.
Blennerville Windmill - located about 2 km outside the town, Ireland's largest functioning windmill.
Tralee Aquadome - A large indoor water leisure facility with a mini-golf course.
Ballyseedy Wood - Is located 2 km outside Tralee off the N21. It consists of 32 ha of woodland dating back from the 16th century where Kerry County Council have developed public entrances at the north and south of the wood with car parks and 4 km of gravelled looped pathways. Ash, Oak and Beech trees are part of the wood as are a number of ruins and folllies, dating back to the 17th century, with the River Lee (from which Tralee takes its name) forming the woodlands northern boundary.
Tralee Town Park - Tralee has a town park located in the town centre (opposite the Kerry County Museum) with a rose garden comprising over 5,000 roses of different varieties. The park is the location for the annual Féile na mBláth / Tralee Garden Festival - a free midsummer weekend festival comprising gardening demonstrations, flower arranging, garden tours, musical and choral events among other activities, organised by Tralee Town Council.
Tralee Bay Wetlands and Nature Reserve - Tralee Bay Nature Reserve is a site of considerable international importance. It covers some 2,500 ha (8,000 acres) and stretches from Tralee town westwards to Fenit Harbour and Cloghane, encompassing Tralee Bay, Brandon Bay and the Magharees Peninsula. It includes extensive mudflats at the eastern end, the beaches of Derrymore Island, the sand dunes and lagoons of the Magharees Peninsula. Both the River Lee and Brandon (Owenmore) estuaries feature wide expanses of sheltered intertidal flats, often fringed with saltmarsh vegetation. The Wetlands Centre which opened in 2012 is designed as a microcosm of the wild nature reserve where visitors are introduced to the fresh and saltwater habitats. Visitors can travel on a safari boat ride through the recreated reed and freshwater channels in the centre.
Tralee Ship Canal - Opened in 1846, this 2 mile long canal connects Tralee to Tralee Bay where it passes by Blennerville Windmill. The Dingle Way runs along the towpath of the canal.
Dingle Way - (Irish: Slí Chorca Dhuibhne) A 162-kilometre (101-mile) long National Waymarked Trail that begins and ends in Tralee and is typically completed in eight days.
Rose of Tralee
The Rose of Tralee festival is an international competition which is celebrated among Irish communities all over the world. The festival, held annually in August since 1959, takes its inspiration from a nineteenth-century ballad of the same name about a woman called Mary, who because of her beauty was called The Rose of Tralee. The contest, which is broadcast over two nights by RTÉ is one of the highest viewed shows on Irish television with over a million people watching.
To commemorate the Rose of Tralee tradition, the Rose Garden in the Tralee Town Park is a home to a life size bronze statue depicting the original Rose of Tralee Mary O'Connor and the author of the Rose of Tralee ballad William Pembroke Mulchinock sculpted by an Irish sculptor Jeanne Rynhart as well as the Rose Wall of Honour - a series of glass panels that will contain the name of every Rose who has participated in the Festival since 1959.