The First Rose of Tralee


By Patricia O’Reilly

The Love Story That Inspired Ireland’s Famous Festival

Mary O’Connor, beautiful daughter of the local shoemaker, dreams of a life beyond the hardship and poverty of Brogue Lane but must resign herself to life as a lowly kitchen maid.

William Pembroke Mulchinock, heir to West Villa, is obliged to let go of his dream of being a poet to run the family estate.

When they meet they are dazzled by love. The Great Famine is about to grip the country, Daniel O’Connell is holding monster rallies, pushing for Repeal of the 1801 Union, and the young lovers are caught up in the politics of the time. Can their love survive political turmoil and bridge the great divide between rich and poor?

Over one hundred years later, the annual Rose of Tralee International Festival was established, taking its inspiration from the 19th-century love song which tells the story of ‘Mary, the Rose of Tralee’.