A ballad about a romantic love story can be given the credit for the origins of the International Rose of Tralee Festival, which takes place each year in Tralee, County Kerry. The ballad called The Rose of Tralee, was written by William Pembroke Mulchinock about his forbidden love, his maid Mary O'Connor. William went overseas and when he returned he was heartbroken to discover that Mary had passed away. He went on to marry, but never forgot his one true love and wrote the ballad in her honour. He was eventually buried beside Mary in a graveyard just outside Tralee.
The life sized statue, which depicts both Mary and William, was commissioned by Tralee Town Council to mark the 50th anniversary of the festival in 2009, and was sculpted by renowned sculptor Jeanne Rynhart. It is set in the centre of the Rose Garden, surrounded by over 35 varieties of roses. Surrounding the statue is the appropriately named glass Rose Wall. It comprises of a series of glass panels that contain the name of every Rose who has participated in the Festival since its foundation in 1959, as well the history and the lyrics of the ballad.
Take the time to fully explore the 35 acre Tralee Town Park as it offers an oasis of calm and colour in an urban setting. Enjoy the Garden of the Senses, the fountain, the large children's playground, the Rose Garden or just stroll along the Rose Walk.