Tonight on RTE 1 the beauty pageant relic that is The Rose of Tralee kicks off. Growing up I loved its beauty-with-brains-and-jigs approach to making women don pastel coloured dresses and compete against each other. This was mainly because along with the Eurovision and the Late Late Toy Show, it was one of three events in the calendar year you were allowed to stay up late for. It was full of OTT ex-pat Nationalism, woeful poems about people’s grannies missing the oul sod of Ireland, women belting out ear-splitting versions of Danny Boy, bad party pieces and lots of ostentatious shoe-removal to dance out-of-time hornpipes.
It’s never been the same since Uncle Gaybo stopped presenting it and I can’t ever think about it without the Father Ted send up, The Lovely Girls, elbowing its way into my brain. Rememember the qualification rounds of “walking”, “sandwich making” and the “lovely laugh tie-break”? The same episode also features the feminist singer who is obviously modelled on Sinéad O’Connor (“What’s ‘clit power’? I knew a Father CLINT Power once”).