The Rose of Tralee International Festival is Ireland's largest and longest running festival. Since 1959, the heart of the festival is the selection of the Rose of Tralee which brings young women of Irish descent from around the world to County Kerry for a global celebration of Irish culture. The Rose of Tralee is based on the love song 'The Rose of Tralee' by William Mulchinock. The story behind the famous song is that of a 19th century wealthy merchant who fell in love with Mary O' Connor his maid. William described how he fell in love at first sight but because of the difference in social class between the two families their love affair was discouraged. He was broken-hearted and expressed his love for her in the now famous song 'The Rose of Tralee.'