The 56th Rose of Tralee, Maria Walsh from Philadelphia, described her Rose of Tralee journey as “a fantastic experience” while on a whistle stop tour of Newbridge Silverware on Monday, writes Paula Campbell.
“I’m still surprised by my win,” said Maria, who has also been in the headlines for being the first openly gay Rose of Tralee in 56 years.
“My first reaction to winning was ‘no, no, no’ and I’m still in shock. It is a great opportunity and there have been so many great moments and meeting all the girls has been fantastic as well seeing as my family and friends.”
A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Maria moved to Shrule in Co Mayo with her family 20 years ago but following her graduation in Journalism and Visual Media at Griffith College, moved to New York and later to Philadelphia. She has since welcomed the positive feedback 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 is also a life long pioneer and has volunteered for many years with the Pioneer Association.
“I would say to any young girl thinking about entering the competition to go for it,” she added. “I am really looking forward to what the year will bring.
“I haven’t figured out all the logistics of it yet but I am looking to spending the €25,000 travel prize money and to wearing all the lovely Newbridge Silverware jewellery.”