"It's not a talent contest" - Rose of Tralee organisers defend poetry ban

Anthony O'Gara says the competition is a celebration of the Irish family

"It's not a talent contest" - Rose of Tralee organisers defend poetry ban

Daithi O'Se introduces the hopeful Roses for 2016 Rose of Tralee International Festival at RTE Studios in Dublin | Image: Rollingnews.ie

Organisers of the Rose of Tralee Festival are defending moves to ban poetry at the competition.

Roses have been asked not to recite verse as their party piece when they take to the stage, in a bid to ensure the competition remains "modern" and "fast moving".

Organisers are encouraging them to showcase other, livelier talents.

The festival, which celebrates 57 years this year, is now underway. Dáithí Ó Sé returns as host for a seventh year.

The semi-final and final of the competition will air Monday August 22nd and Tuesday August 23rd.

Anthony O'Gara is the executive chair of the Rose of Tralee International Festival.

"This year we have said 'no poems' - if somebody can dance or sing fine, but five out of six of the last Roses couldn't sing a note no more than myself," he told Newstalk Breakfast.

"It's not a talent contest and we're finally trying to get the message across."

"It's a celebration of the Irish family around the world, and it has been that for the last 57 years."

"All the quirky stuff that happens on TV if you try to analyse it some of it seems to make sense, some of it doesn't - but I think it's the personality of the girls and the fun they have with Dáithí."

A new format will see all 65 Roses who made it through the regional finals travel to Tralee for the qualifying selections on August 17th and 18th.

Mr O'Gara says while exciting, Tralee is not the place to be if you want to stay "fit and sober."