NEWLY crowned Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh has welcomed the positive response she has had after revealing she is gay.
Over the weekend much media commentary followed the publication of a story in the Sun on Sunday in which Maria said that she’s been openly gay for the past two years.
Speaking at Croke Park yesterday, where the Mayo native watched her home county take on Kerry in what ended as a dramatic semi-final draw, she welcomed comments from former Minister Mary O’Rourke who said the story underlined Maria’s worthiness as the Rose of Tralee.
Speaking on the Marian Finucane Show on RTÉ Radio 1, Ms O’Rourke described the 2014 Rose - who arrives back in Philadelphia today - as being truthful like the words of the song ‘the truth of her eyes ever dawning’.
“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,” said 27-year-old Maria yesterday.
“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.”
The avid Gaelic player and supporter added: “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, who is a Journalism and Visual Media graduate, has enjoyed a busy week 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.
Yesterday she was a guest of the GAA President, Liam O’Neill at the All-Ireland Football Semi-Final between Mayo and Kerry.
She flew back to Philadelphia last night to return to work as a studio manager for clothing brand Anthropologie.