Rose of Tralee Festival 2017 kicks off this week. RollingNews.ie

The Rose of Tralee International Festival kicked off today as 64 Roses gathered in Dublin to begin a celebration of Ireland and Irish womanhood.

The Festival was founded in 1959 in the Kerry town that bears its name and is dedicated to finding a “lovely and fair” woman like that in the song, ‘Rose of Tralee’.

Although sometimes mocked as a ‘lovely girls’ competition (a reference to a skit competition held on the Irish comedy series “Father Ted”), it remains as popular as ever.

Host Dáithí Ó Sé is back for his eighth year in charge of the competition and choppered over to Malahide Castle in a helicopter the same shade of red as the dresses on the women he was there to meet.

Read more: Ten things you never knew about the Rose of Tralee (PHOTOS)

Rose of Tralee Festival 2017 host Daithí Ó Sé arrives in his Rose-colored helicopter. Image: RollingNews.ie.

Rose of Tralee Festival 2017 host Daithí Ó Sé arrives in his Rose-colored helicopter. Image: RollingNews.ie.

"One of the things I really enjoy every year is meeting them all and then seeing how they get on on-stage. My main job is to make sure that all the Roses feel safe and secure there and that I'm a friendly face when they walk out," he told the Irish Independent.

The current bookie's favorites are Dublin Rose Maria Coughlan and Sydney Rose Aisling Walsh at 3/1 each.

Last year’s winner was Chicago Rose Maggie McEldowney, although much more of the nation’s attention was focused on Sydney Rose Brianna Parkins’ call for Ireland to repeal the 8th amendment which bans abortion.

In 2014, traditionalists were shocked when the Philadelphia Rose and winner, Maria Walsh, came out as a lesbian.

This year, the festival initially said that trans women were not welcome to participate but quickly flip flopped after public outrage.

The festival will be broadcast on RTÉ next week on August 21 and 22 and can be viewed on RTÉ Player afterward.

The full list of participants is as follows:

Abu Dhabi Rose - Niamh Kelly

Arizona Rose - Lauren Koll

Armagh Rose - Nicole McKeown

Boston & New England Rose - Orlaith Roche

Carlow Rose - Ciara Dooley

Cavan Rose - Paula McPartland

Chicago Rose - Teresa Daly

Clare Rose - Aoife Murray

Cork Rose - Aishling O'Connor

Darwin Rose - Rochelle Blake

Derby Rose - Sarah Kelly

Derry Rose - Sarah Colhoun

Donegal Rose - Amy Callaghan

Down Rose - Orlagh McNally

Dubai Rose - Lisa O'Donohue

Dublin Rose - Maria Coughlan

Fermanagh Rose - Stephanie Maguire

Florida Rose - Elizabeth Marince

Galway Rose - Niamh Elwood

Germany Rose - Áine Sullivan

Kentucky Rose - Martha Mortell

Kerry Rose - Breda O’Mahony

Kildare Rose - Deirbhle Mulvihill

Kilkenny Rose - Tara Roche

Hong Kong Rose - Clarissa Langley Coleman

Laois Rose - Maeve Dunne

Leitrim Rose - Erin Moran

Limerick Rose - Kayleigh Maher

London Rose - Caoimhe Gallagher

Longford Rose - Laura Ward

Louth Rose - Aoife Heffron

Mayo Rose - Sandra Ganley

Meath Rose - Anne Lynam

Melbourne Rose - Sinéad Ryan

Monaghan Rose - Maria Murnaghan

New York Rose - Sinéad Kirnan

New Zealand Rose - Niamh O'Sullivan

Newcastle/Gateshead Rose - Laoise O'Shaughnessy

Newfoundland & Labrador Rose - Katie Hanlon-Wadman

North Carolina Rose - Rebecca Phipps

Offaly Rose - Jennifer Byrne

Ohio Rose - Meghan Adams

Ottawa Rose - Vanessa Foran

Perth Rose - Kerrie-Ann Barnes

Philadelphia Rose - Tara Grandich

Queensland Rose - Ellen McCready

Roscommon Rose - Deirdre Cribbin

San Francisco Rose - Amanda Donohoe

Sligo Rose - Lisa Maloney

South Carolina Rose - Ellerslie McCue

Southern California Rose - Claire McManamon

South Australia Rose - Aoife Wright

Sydney Rose - Aisling Walsh

Texas Rose - Lydian Lawler Lopez

Tipperary Rose - Sheila Ryan

Toronto Rose - Colombe Nadeau-O'Shea

Tyrone Rose - Niamh McElduff

Washington D.C. Rose - Sarah Robertson

Waterford Rose - Chloe McGrath

Western Canada Rose - Sinéad McGahern

Westmeath Rose - Eva Cooney

Wexford Rose - Julie Sinnott

Wicklow Rose - Abby McKenna

Southern California Rose - Claire McManamon

Yorkshire Rose - Aisling McArdle

Will you be watching the Rose of Tralee? Let us know your thoughts on the festival in the comments section.