The Rose of Tralee will return this month after a two-year break, with new rules to reflect a ‘diverse and inclusive’ festival.
Married women will be able to enter the festival, as well as transgender women and the maximum age for entries will be raised to 29.
The rule changes, which were announced last December, are the first time the age limit has been changed in the festival’s 62-year history.
The age limit was increased slightly from 28 to 29.
Under the new rules entries must be 18 years of age by January 1st and will not have reached their 30th birthday on or prior to September 1st, 2023.
Transgender women are also now eligible to apply for the festival and the new rule state entries must be “female or identify as female”.
Former Rose of Tralee MEP Maria Walshe said the new rules are “fantastic”.
“I think it’s fantastic. At the time when the news broke a couple of months ago I know there was confusion over well ‘you can’t be a women with children’, but that actually had been in for some time.
“For clarity they have been able to enter into the festival for many years,” she told Newstalk.
“There are thousands of people that enter into the festival worldwide each year so I think that’s a fantastic way to make sure we are inclusive to all.”
Executive chair Anthony O'Gara confirmed on Radio Kerry last year that there will be a number of changes made to the 2022 competition.
He said: "We're extending the age up to 29 now. We're confirming that married women can enter, as can somebody who identifies as a female will be welcome to enter.
"That has been the case but perhaps we haven't stated it strongly enough in the past but we want to confirm that."
Mr O’Gara said transgender women have never been explicitly ruled out from entering the festival, but it had been pointed out to them that “a clear policy stating that trans women are welcome as opposed to just presuming that they feel welcome” was needed.
“It’s important to be proactive in that area and make sure that we reach out to people and make sure that they’re comfortable,” he said.
Mr O’Gara said the change was a “natural progression”.
The Rose of Tralee festival was unable to go ahead in the last two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, it will finally return this year, running August 19th – 23rd.