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Rose of Tralee stats: Why you should go a bit Gaeilgeoir, but not full Gaeilgeoir if you want to win

by Aidan Elder | August 15, 2014

By Aidan Elder | Chief Lovely Girls Competition Writer

You’ll laugh. You’ll cringe. You’ll hope the rest of the world see what we like to get up to in our spare time. But you’ll almost definitely watch.

It’s the Rose of Tralee and it’s Ireland’s guilty pleasure. The kind of thing we’d be mortified to have to explain to a foreigner. Kind of like Garth Brooks’ inexplicable popularity in the country.

Old fashioned, twee and probably not a favourite among feminists, nonetheless, it’s a standout date on the nation’s cultural calendar. We might cringe behind our sofa cushions at the awkward quasi-flirting between Daithi and the Roses, some of the alleged ‘singing’ and the occasional unwelcome proposal of marriage, but it’s hard to take your eyes off. And at least Daithi’s flirting is easier on the ear than that of Gaybo who admirably played the role of ‘smug yet non-threatening eunuch’ for nearly 20 years.

There’s more to it than the ‘Lovely Girls Competition’ beauty pageant element we get treated to on Monday and Tuesday night. The Festival itself runs for five days and although the TV shows attract the most attention partially due to the aforementioned twee quotient, there’s more happening behind the scenes – much of which won’t make your skin crawl.

The purpose of finding a young women to adequately represent Irish values among the local population and the diaspora is valid. It can seen quite random, but is there a method to the apparent Hiberno-madness? The Paddy Power Blog as looked into the vaults of this famous event to pick out some key stats.

Winning Region


The first place to start is looking at where the winning Roses have come from. Understandably, Irish Roses are by far the most successful category of Roses with a 42% win rate. This is largely down to the fact they are guaranteed a sizable representation each year and maybe also their collective ability to dance an Irish jig in a full ball gown.

Behind them, it’s the North American Roses that stand out as a category to watch, particularly the Americans. And even if they don’t win, there’s always a chance they might take away the runners-up prize of marriage to Daithi.

Think you’ve spotted the winning Rose?
You’ll be torn apart if you don’t head over to our Rose of Tralee betting:


Winning Region By Relative Size


But while the Winning Region stats tell us in real terms about wins, when it comes to telling us which regions perform above their size, it’s about as enlightening as an Amish Twitter account. What we really need is to look at a region’s Irish and Irish diaspora population to get a sense of how well they’re performing against some of the more populated and well represented regions.

Dublin is the most successful single area in the history of the competition, but given the substantial population, it’s to be expected. They’ve five wins, but with a population of around 1.3 million, that works out at about one win per 257,000 people. There are certainly regions who are punching above their weight to a much greater extent.

Luxembourg tops the charts in terms of wins per size of Irish community. Based on data received from the Irish embassy in the country, their single win in the event was drawing from a pool of about 20,000 people of Irish descent in the small nation – comfortably the best ratio. Following that, it’s a clean sweep of Irish regions with host town Tralee, Waterford, Belfast and Galway all boasting good records given their comparatively small Irish communities.

The worst regions is a bit harsh. They’re only the worst because they’ve one win to their name. Other regions haven’t won at all, but they can’t really be measured by the same calculation so don’t appear in the figures. Still though, it’s not great news for France, Canada, Texas and the parts of England that aren’t London.

What’s In a Name?


Other than wearing an Irish Italia 90 jersey, having Daniel O’Donnell’s face tattooed on your arm and spraying a bottle of TK Red Lemonade indiscriminately in the air, there are few quick-fire indications of Irishness better than a name. But does a having an Irish sounding name make you more or less likely to win the contest?

Breaking the names of the winners into five categories ranging from ‘Not Irish at all really’ to ‘Full on Gaeilgeoir’, we see that there is a correlation between an Irish sounding name and victory. Irish surnames are easily identifiable, but first names can be more ambiguous due to origin. For example, Mary – it didn’t originate in Ireland, but it’s certainly acquired an Irish association over time.

Ultimately, the evidence points towards the importance of having an Irish surname at the very least. With around 35% of all winners having an Irish surname only and a further 42% of winners having both an Irish surname and first name, that’s 77% of all winners with strongly Irish names. We’re not claiming any conscious xenophobia among the judges, but certainly having an Irish surname seems to be a key indicator of success.

Can you name this year’s Rose?
See if anything calls out to you in our Rose of Tralee betting:


Age and Occupation


It’s an incomplete data set due to a lack of records, but from a sample of about 75% of all Rose of Tralee winners, the most popular occupation at the time of winning is by far ‘student’. That’s a bit vague admittedly, but to break it out a bit further, young women studying to be teachers, nurses and other medical related professions seem to go down well with the judges – the ‘Coppers professions’ really. Nurses claim second place while bank Employees and teachers sneak into the top three with three wins apiece.

Age wise, the average of the winners over the last 10 years comes in at around 24.5. We’ve to go back way before that to find a teenage winner and the last two winners were both 25 at the time, so when you’re going through the form, it’s worth bearing that in mind.

Hair Colour


While a nations of red-haired maidens may be the image the rest of the world has of Ireland, it’s not reflected in the hair colour stats of Rose of Tralee winners. It’s brunettes who run away with it by a country mile. Blondes don’t tend to have more fun at the contest claiming just 15% of victories in contrast to the 76% of their raven-haired counterparts. Gingers have won just 9% of all competitions, which is small, but probably down to the fact they have a comparatively low representation in a typical year.

The brunettes are on a bit of a role however, going back five years. About one in every four winning Roses isn’t a brunette, so based on that rate, it’s only fair to think the blondes and gingers might have a chance this time around.

If we take all this too literally, the temptation is to back a 24-year-old student nurse with brown hair who comes from Luxembourg or maybe Waterford with an Irish name that’s not quite a full Gaeilgeoir name. Well, clearly that’s a very specific person who may not actually be competing in this year’s contest. It’s best to keep that stats in mind when having a bet rather than sticking rigidly to what they point towards.

Can anything stem from all these Rose stats?
Have a look at our Rose of Tralee betting:



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