Many of this year’s Rose of Tralee contestants left Ireland in search of work, adding “extra poignancy” to the annual festival according to event host Dáithí Ó Sé.

For the fourth year several Roses representing cities around the globe are Irish natives who emigrated during the Irish recession.

This year eight Irish natives are flying the flags of Abu Dhabi (Mayo), Dubai (Donegal), Liverpool (Athlone), Melbourne (Kerry), Perth (Cork), Queensland (Limerick), South Australia (Kerry), and Sydney (Cork). Among the contestants who have emigrated are teachers, a psychologist, a plastic surgeon, and businesswomen.

“There is an added extra poignancy due to the levels of emigration we have suffered,” TV host Dáithí Ó Sé told the Irish Examiner.

“Whereas in the past many international Roses were second or third generation Irish, these days Roses from Australia or beyond are likely to be young women who left Ireland in search of a job,” he said.

On Monday night the first of two TV shows, where the public meets each of the 32 Roses, was broadcast live on Ireland’s national broadcaster, RTÉ.

This summer the Rose of Tralee International Festival extended this year’s event by two extra days to celebrate The Gathering.

The General Manager of the Rose of Tralee International Festival, Oliver Hurley, said, “The Rose of Tralee continues to connect the global Irish community in a celebration of shared culture. The interest, and indeed affection, that Irish people at home and abroad have for the Rose of Tralee represents the core strength of the Rose of Tralee brand which is an unrivalled marketing and promotional asset for Kerry and Ireland.”

The Rose of Tralee International Festival is Ireland’s annual Gathering since 1959 and it’s estimated that well over five million people have been to the Festival during the past 54 years.

The Festival kicked off on Wednesday 14th August and the 2013 Rose of Tralee will wrap-up the Midnight Madness on Tuesday 20th August after the winner is announced.

Daithí O Sé at the launch of this year's Rose of Tralee festivalHandout