Sunday 22 October 2017

'Rose of Tralee isn't outdated, it's a modern show'- Former Rose Maria Walsh

In 2014, Maria Walsh became the first openly gay Rose. Photo: Steve Humphreys
In 2014, Maria Walsh became the first openly gay Rose. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Sean O'Grady

Maria Walsh has hit out against naysayers who think the Rose of Tralee is outdated.

The long-running festival has come under fire from critics over the years, including Herald columnist Anna Nolan - who said it had nothing to offer modern audiences. However, former rose Maria believes the show is more current than ever before.

Maria receiving the crown in Tralee. Pic: Steve Humpherys
Maria receiving the crown in Tralee. Pic: Steve Humpherys

"It's interesting, because it can't be that dated - I am the first gay Rose, and we had a call to action to repeal the eighth," she said.

"I'm always surprised when I hear those comments, whether it be from Anna or anybody else."

Anna compared the festival to a more traditional beauty pageant and said the contestants did not have to try too hard - other than smiling and having a conversation with host Daithi O'Se. Maria (28) pointed out the show is a celebration of women.

"Daithi O'Se says it's a celebration of women, and I agree with him. Without the festival nobody would have known me," she said.

Maria and Shauna
Maria and Shauna

The TV presenter said she hopes to bring a bus full of critics down to Kerry for next year's bash to show them what the Rose of Tralee is all about.

"I'm always critical of comments like that from people who have never been to the festival," she said.

"We need to get one busload of the naysayers. Come down and experience it and we can talk then."

Maria recently appeared on 2fm with TV producer girlfriend, Shauna Keogh. The Mayo woman and her Dublin partner joked they had a big rivalry ahead of Sunday's All-Ireland clash.

"I don't know if I can listen to Shauna if Dublin win the All-Ireland," she said.

Maria Walsh
Maria Walsh

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