Tralee is a city of about 23,000 people at the head of Tralee Bay. It is located at the end of an ancient road that leads over the Slieve Mish Mountains. Though the city is located on the bay, its port is a few miles away at the village of Fenit. The city is probably best known for the nineteenth century ballad called The Rose of Tralee and the 1942 film of the same name. Every August, there is a Rose of Tralee Festival that features a competition (i.e. a beauty contest) in which women from around the world vie for the title of “Rose of Tralee.”
There are numerous archeological sites in the area, including towers and ring forts. Laetitia and her group spent the morning and early afternoon visiting several of them. At the pub late that afternoon, Laetitia asked the bartender about the Rose of Tralee Festival. After a brief description of the festival in August, he told her about another “Rose of Tralee,” who was the subject of a tale his grandfather told him.
A man who his grandfather knew had been the manager and front man for a faith healer who traveled around the British Isles holding tent shows. When the faith healer died, the manager was left with no job and the tent. Soon after that, he fortuitously met a woman in a Dublin pub, who claimed her name was Aphrodite, and, after a few drinks, took him back to her flat and showed him the red rose tattooed on her lower belly, among other things.
There is a Greek legend that the rose was originally white, until Aphrodite pricked her finger with it and bled onto the blossoms. This Aphrodite was neither a Greek goddess nor from Tralee, but she became “Aphrodite, The Rose of Tralee,” in an itinerant tent strip show. The show mostly toured the fishing communities around the coast and did come to Tralee a few times. One drawback to the tent was that once all eyes were on the stage, it was easy to sneak in under the flaps. This story became Laetitia’s limerick of the day.
A stripper, “The Rose of Tralee,”
Would show her tattoo for a fee
And most boys went fishin’
To raise the admission
But some tried to sneak in for free.