War of the Rose

Rose of Tralee contestant Elizabeth Kee. (Photo: Nuala Purcell)

By Julia McAvoy Gottlieb, Contributor
August / September 2004

Elizabeth Kee addresses the controversy about her past.


This year’s Rose of Tralee festival has been grabbing headlines over the controversy surrounding New York’s Rose Elizabeth Kee, who will compete in the festival at the end of August. Kee is a former star of the reality television show Temptation Island, in which she was acting like a true temptress. Kee was also attacked after publicity pictures surfaced from an all-female, Charlie’s Angels type show that she was cast for that never aired. Kee explained, “Apparently the producer didn’t get enough money and put all the pictures he had up on the Internet. I never got paid for that work. He bounced my check, and worse than that, now I am being bashed for it.”

Kee, whose ancestors hail from Counties Down and Dublin, has defended herself vigorously in the press. She said, “If they knew what really happened, then they would make a decision based on that and not on hearsay. If they were informed, they would have a different opinion of me.” Trying to stay focused on the positive aspects of the Rose pageant, she said she is excited to visit her Irish relatives when she gets to Tralee.

The Rose of Tralee prides itself on being more than a beauty contest. Inspired by the love song “The Rose of Tralee” by William Mulchinock, the winner is picked for her modesty and charm rather than her beauty. At the competition, 26 contestants from all over the world represent countries including Italy, Australia, Dubai, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the UK, and Ireland.

Regardless of the current controversy, the Rose of Tralee has always been a much-anticipated event since its start in 1959 when a group of businessmen wanted to encourage tourism to the Tralee area after the post-war emigration. To find out who wins the 2004 Rose of Tralee title, we’ll have to wait until August 24 when the winner will be announced. ♦


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