New Rose of Tralee speaks about her sexuality on Late Late Show

The newly crowned Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh chatted candidly to Ryan Tubridy about her sexuality last night on the Late Late Show.

After her win last month, Philadelphia Rose Maria Walsh revealed in an interview that she was "gay and proud."

Ryan was quick to ask her if it the subject had been broached by the judges. "'Are you a lesbian?' That wasn't asked, no," said Maria. "If it was ever going towards that I would have openly said it."

Despite being tipped as a favourite to be crowned Rose, Maria said she was shocked when the result was announced. "I wasn't expecting to win," she said.

Executive Chairman of the festival, Anthony O'Gara, also had a few things to say yesterday – he published an open letter on the Rose of Tralee website, criticising the Irish public's view of the festival as merely being a "Lovely Girls" contest.

"We are not interested in stereotyping women. We celebrate exceptional women and accept them as the proud people they are, whatever that might be," said Anthony. "Roses and the rest of us live in the real world where bad things happen and people struggle." 

Well said, Anthony!