Rose of Tralee participants meet first time contest host Marty Whelan in the Guinness Brewery, Dublin.

The 32 roses taking part in the 39th Rose of Tralee Festival meet for the first time for the traditional lunch at the Guinness Brewery in Dublin.

Also attending in his first engagement as host of the contest is broadcaster Marty Whelan. He has no idea why RTÉ chose him for the job but is more than up for the task,

I’m ready, I’m focused.

Also present at the engagement is former Rose of Tralee host turned judge Gay Byrne. He jokes about Marty Whelan,

He’ll be total rubbish I assure you.

Before adding,

He’ll be lovely.

The festival attracts those with Irish roots from across the world. New York rose Melissa Ann Clare is extremely proud of her Irish background. South California rose Saroj Verna explains that her exotic sounding name is the result of having a mother from Fermoy in Cork and a father from Kashmir in India.

Irish dancing while not a mandatory skill still features on the CVs.

Sydney rose, plain clothes police officer Yvette Jennifer McCloghry includes surveillance as part of her skill set. While can say she works on organised crime she is unable to go into greater detail,

I can’t tell you, I’d have to kill you I’m afraid!

Sinead Lonergan originally from Tipperary but representing France is eventually crowned Rose of Tralee in 1997.

Marty Whelan hosted the Rose of Tralee from 1997 – 2002.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 20 August 1997. The reporter is Margaret Ward.