Home Irish Showbiz Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain insists Rose of Tralee ISN'T just 'lovely girls contest'

Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain insists Rose of Tralee ISN'T just 'lovely girls contest'

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RTE star Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain has hit out at Rose of Tralee haters, insisting: “It’s not a lovely girls competition.”

The Mayo beauty won the annual competition in 2005 – and told Goss.ie she wouldn’t have her TV presenting career without out it.

“I’ve always thanked the festival because I never planned going into broadcasting,” the 30-year-old said.

“I just fell into it after being in the Rose of Tralee and it gave me a platform. I owe the Rose of Tralee a lot and I’m grateful.

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Still valid: Aoibhinn insists it isn’t just lovely girls contest

“We have our own family of women that we keep in contact often — I always meet up with fellow Roses.”

It comes days before the competition starts in Tralee, after Daithi O’Se met the women taking part.

And Aoibhinn – who is dating Ryan Tubridy – insisted it isn’t just about beauty and how good looking the girls are, it’s also about brains and personality.

“The contest has changed in priorities and image over the last 50 years and the role it plays abroad is important for the diaspora,” she said.

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“For people in far flung places like San Francisco and Wellington in New Zealand, the festival is something that brings people together.

“It opens up the world to you and it’s about celebrating being Irish. It’s nothing too crass and it’s a celebration of a form of Irish culture.”

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And Aoibhinn told Goss.ie she was delighted to speak to a young girl who would only enter the Rose of Tralee once she finished college.

“I met a girl who said she’d love to be a Rose at some point, but can only do it after she has her degree,” she explained.

“If that’s the message that is getting out there for women, that’s positive and there’s nothing wrong with that”.