• 2014 Rose of Tralee & Philadelphia Rose Maria Walsh 2014 Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh

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Rose of Tralee Maria welcomes ‘truth in her eyes’ remark from Mary O’Rourke

THE Rose of Tralee, Maria Walsh, has welcomed the positive feedback and commentary in the media following the publication of the story in the Sun on Sunday in which she said that she’s been openly gay for the past two years.

She particularly welcomed the remark on the Marian Finucane Show on RTE Radio 1 from former Minister Mary O’Rourke who said that the story underlined Maria’s worthiness as the Rose of Tralee who was truthful like the words of the song ‘the truth of her eyes ever dawning’.

Barely able to speak after the dramatic draw between Mayo and Kerry in the All-Ireland semi-final in Croke Park, Maria said: “I don’t know if that was what William Muchinock had in mind when he wrote the Rose of Tralee but it’s a lovely comment from Mary O’Rourke. One of the first people I met this morning was a shop-keeper in a filling station en route to Croke Park. When he congratulated me, I asked him if it was for being the Rose of Tralee or after reading the story in the Sun. ‘Both’ he replied. My family are very proud of me and the most important thing to them is that I’m happy and healthy. Right now I’m more excited about the fact that Mayo will have another chance to overcome Kerry next week and hopefully reach next month's All-Ireland Final.”

Since being crowned as the 56th Rose of Tralee, Maria Walsh has enjoyed a busy few days complete with ice-bucket challenges in the Tralee Town Park Fountain, a homecoming celebration in her home town of Shrule, Co Mayo and a welcome home event in Connemara where her mother Noreen spent most of her childhood.

Today she was a guest of the GAA President, Liam O’Neill at the All-Ireland Football Semi-Final between her home County Mayo and Kerry. She’s due to fly back to Philadelphia tonight to return to work as a studio manager.

Statement by Festival Chief Executive on Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh

Statement issued by The Rose of Tralee International Executive Chair Anthony O'Gara, as quoted in The Sun Newspaper article published today.

The Executive Chair of the Rose of Tralee International Festival, Anthony O'Gara, commented:

“We are delighted that Maria was chosen as the Rose of Tralee. She is a wonderful person, an attractive intelligent woman and a very worthy winner who happens to be gay.  Her sexuality will no doubt create some interest, hopefully all positive. She wants to be celebrated as Maria Walsh in the complete sense of her person and hopefully everyone will respect that.”

Philadelphia Rose is crowned 2014 Rose of Tralee in the Dome

THE 2014 Rose of Tralee is Maria Walsh, representing Philadelphia, after RTÉ’s Dáithí Ó Sé announced the outcome in front of nearly one million television viewers and an audience of 2000 people in the Festival Dome last night.

Maria Walsh (27) is the first Philadelphia Rose to take the title and she was presented with her sash and tiara by the 2013 Rose of Tralee, Haley O’Sullivan and David Doyle from Newbridge Silverware, lead sponsors of the Festival.

Maria, who works as a studio manager for a clothing and lifestyle brand in Philadelphia, said: “I am extremely blessed to receive this wonderful honour in the company of 31 high calibre, beautiful, intelligent and hard-working women. We’ve had an extraordinary time in Tralee and great friendships have been formed.”

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Maria moved to the south Mayo village of Shrule in 1994. She studied Journalism and Visual Media in Griffith College Dublin and graduated in 2009 before venturing to the Big Apple in early 2010. She moved to Philadelphia in late 2011.

Maria is a Studio Manager for Anthropologie, a clothing and lifestyle brand but she joked about being a little concerned about how the outcome of last night’s outcome selection might be greeted by her employer.

“I’m not going to lie, but when my name was announced I thought to myself ‘my boss is not going to be very happy’. When I went for this trip, my boss said, ‘don’t come back with the crown’. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to spending the next 12 months encouraging women of Irish origin and descent to take part in this wonderful Festival.”

Maria’s parents are Noreen and Vincent, she has two brothers – Kevin and Michael - and a sister, Eileen and, being an avid Mayo Gaelic football fan is particularly looking forward to next Sunday’s All-Ireland Semi-final against Kerry.

She is a Pioneer and a member of the Glencorrib Center since she was twelve and she has volunteered for many years with the Pioneer Association and No Name Club, two organizations that focus on the development of our young people.

In addition to the honour becoming the 2014 Rose of Tralee, Maria has won a prize package that includes a treasure trove of Newbridge Jewellery and Homeware, a €25,000 World Travel Prize sponsored by The Loop at Dublin and Cork Airports and a year’s driving in the new Kia Soul worth €25,000 from Kia and McElligotts of Tralee.

This year’s Rose of Tralee International Festival kicked-off on Friday August 15th and around 200,000 people were in Tralee over the course of the five-day Festival, the highlights of which were Union J, Walking on Cars, three parades, two fireworks displays and an airshow.

The Street Carnival in the town centre was complimented by the Dome events that included Nathan Carter, the sell-out 1100 capacity Rose Ball, two Rose selection nights and The Kerryman Fashion Show which was attended by nearly 1600 people.

The General Manager of the Rose of Tralee International Festival, Oliver Hurley, commended the local business community and the dedication of the team of 150 volunteers who worked tirelessly to deliver a top class event to people of all ages.

Planning for the 2015 Rose of Tralee International Festival will get underway in the coming weeks and the dates for next year’s event are set to be confirmed in September.

Applications are now being accepted to become Roses in 2015 and full details are available from www.roseoftralee.ie.

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