It's almost time for Ireland's annual lovely girls competition as the 59th Rose of Tralee festival soon gets underway down in Kerry. Dáithí Ó Sé is of course on hosting duties once more for his ninth year in a row and we have the photos to prove it.

Himself and the 57 Roses all gathered at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham for the obligatory photo shoot today:


There's Dáithí now... they all want a piece of him. (TROUSERS on the Westmeath Rose no less, very modren.)


Running for his life.


Uh oh, they're gaining on him.


These motion shots flatter no one.

Dáithí is not taking his hosting duties lightly either: "You need a lot of energy for the whole festival, but especially for the Monday and Tuesday nights. I've been out walking or jogging 6 miles a day for the last 6 weeks, as well as watching what I’m eating and drinking lots of water. For me, that’s around 3 pints, which Rita (Talty) would drink for breakfast!" said Dáithí.

He added: "One of the main things I look forward to every year is actually meeting all the Roses, getting the know them and then seeing them do well on stage... that's the best part for me."

Those 59 ladies will soon be narrowed down to 32 for the the final on Monday and Tuesday night, but thankfully that controversial televised cull has been done away with.

This year's competition includes Carlow Rose Shauna Ray Lacey, who is the only entrant into the competition with a child. Single mothers were allowed enter the competition ten years ago (although married mothers still aren't.)

Another Rose is Grainne Carr, sister of a former Leinster and Connacht rugby player Fionn Carr, who will represent Kildare in the competition

London Rose Grainne Hawkes is currently the favourite to win and take over the crown from current Rose of Tralee Jennifer Byrne.

It's all to play for yet though!

Catch The Rose of Tralee on RTÉ One at 8pm on Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 August.