Gorgeous Rose of Tralee winner Maria Walsh has opened up about her sexuality in an interview, saying she is ‘gay and proud’.
Maria was born in Boston, Massachusetts, but moved to Shrule in Co Mayo when she was only seven-years-old.
She took home the Newbridge Silver crown as the Philadelphia Rose on Tuesday night, and has been inundated with messages of support ever since.
“I’m not ashamed of my sexuality by any means,” Maria said. “I’m confident in who I am as a person”.
“To me, being gay is normal. I told my parents and they were supportive as they knew would be”.
The 27-year-old graduated from Griffith College Dublin in 2009 and now lives in Philadelphia where she works as a studio manager for clothing and lifestyle brand, Anthropologie.
Maria said that she is currently single and that the question of her sexuality never cropped up during the festival.
“The Rose of Tralee is about celebrating women’s intelligence, careers, their volunteer work,” she continued. “The question of sexuality never came up. To me, being gay is normal; it’s natural”.
Executive chairman of the festival, Anthony O’Gara, said Maria’s interview may, “create some interest, hopefully all positive”.
We wish Maria every luck and happiness in her role as Rose of Tralee this year!