Monday 20 February 2017

Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh ready for career as 'gay wedding' planner

Published 18/08/2015 | 02:30

Reigning Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh
Reigning Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh
Rose of Tralee contestants Bríd Madigan (Scotland) and Mairéad Comaskey (Philadelphia) enjoy an outing at Bird’s Amusements in Tralee, Co Kerry. In the background is Queensland Rose Niamh Healy. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Dáithí Ó Sé with Cork Rose Aoife Murphy conducting a science experiment on stage at the Rose of Tralee last night
Meath Rose Elysha
London Rose Aisling Hillary

Her reign ends tonight but Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh has revealed she's thinking of a career move - as a wedding planner for gay couples.

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The 28-year-old, who was the first openly lesbian woman to wear the crown, says she's also "in cahoots with RTÉ" with a view to doing more TV work but so far, nothing concrete.

"The entrepreneurial side of my brain also needs to work so I think there's a nice little €20m revenue outlet because of same-sex marriage in terms of wedding planning and that's what my background is in, event management," she said.

"I think there's a great opportunity in it and I think Ireland is an unknown land in terms of location and scenery and my background is photography."

At the festival dome last night there was elephant toothpaste, dung spitting, hosts in tutus and white coats... it's not the usual Rose of Tralee fare but with Dáithí Ó Sé at the helm, anything is possible.

First up on stage was London Rose, Dr Aisling Hillary, born in The Netherlands, who also opened the Regional Rose selection contest in Portlaoise.

"Initially I was shocked at being first up again. It's a big risk but someone's got to do it," said Aisling. Unfortunately for her, some of her supporters only arrive in Tralee today so they did not get to see her on stage.

Chemistry

There was chemistry on stage between O Sé and Cork Rose Aoife Murphy, who carried out a scientific experiment, another Rose of Tralee first.

The 25-year-old PhD student separated hydrogen peroxide, making "elephant toothpaste".

Aoife also has an unusual good luck charm, a pair of binoculars that once belonged to Michael Collins.

"My grandfather James Barrow gave them to me because I was so interested in history," Aoife revealed. "His father Jack, who fought alongside Michael Collins in the War of Independence, gave them to him.

"After Collins's death, my grandfather held on to the binoculars and all my cousins wanted them but my grandfather gave them to me because I was really interested in history."

Elysha Brennan, the first Meath Rose to make it to the dome, spoke about her brush with cancer two weeks before she sat her repeat Leaving Cert.

She beat cancer, is two-and-a-half years in remission and going into her third year in medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons.

But her medical studies are going better than her driving. Three years later and the self-confessed "worst driver in Ireland" still hasn't her full driving licence.

Kentucky Rose Emily Hughes, whose parents hail from Tyrone, was given the support of the Tyrone team.

Escort of the Year is Shane Kenny.

Irish Independent

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