Waterford Rose crowned the 2018 Rose of Tralee
The Waterford Rose has been crowned the 2018 Rose of Tralee.
Kirsten Mate Maher was crowned the 2018 International Rose of Tralee in the Dome in Co Kerry last night.
Ms Maher, who works in a boutique in Waterford, took the crown from last year's Offaly Rose Dr Jennifer Byrne.
The 21-year-old from Waterford said she was speechless as she was crowned the 2018 Rose of Tralee.
"I'm speechless. I just want to say a thank to all the girls in front of me and behind me."
Kirsten is the third Waterford Rose to be name the Rose of Tralee, with Orla Burke winning in 1977 and Brenda Hyland who won in 1983. Brenda was on the judging panel last night representing the Rose Hotel.
Kirsten was hoping to study in WIT in September but confessed she might be clicking the defer button on her course now.
“I couldn’t have picked a winner out of tonight and I certainly didn’t expect it to be me,” she said when asked about pipping Carlow Rose Shauna Ray Lacey to the title.
On stage with Daithi on Monday, she had expressed that there had been too much focus on the colour of her skin.
“It’s something about someone that you touch off but you don’t dwell on, and I felt it was dwelled on too much and used too much when there is a lot more to me than just my skin and hair. I have hobbies, I do loads of stuff that maybe wasn’t talked about enough and I would have liked to have spoken about more or I did speak about it and it wasn’t put into the media,” she said after her win.
Last year's winner Jennifer handed over more than just her Rose of Tralee crown last night - she imparted some advice too.
She believed this year's festival had surpassed itself, proving it was a brilliant platform for starting a national discussion.
Race, divorce and childhood obesity were among serious issues touched on during the show.
"I think everyone will agree with me that the Rose of Tralee has moved to a whole new level. On Monday night there were things represented that probably weren't previously," said Jennifer.
For her, it was keeping her friends and family involved in everything she did that made her year as the Rose so special.
She said that if she had one piece of advice for her successor, it would be to "always involve your nearest and dearest".
She revealed this was a piece of advice she received during her reign as Rose, and definitely some wisdom she would pass on to the next Rose.
"I got so many opportunities around Ireland and all around the world, so those words stayed with me in all the hotels," she said.
The bottom line for the Offaly woman was: "Don't go through the whole year by yourself, include those people who are close to you."
Before the result, the front-runners with the bookies were Kirsten, Carlow Rose Shauna Ray Lacey and the Chicago Rose Katie Callahan.
While the first night of the show was jam-packed with quirky moments - everything from jui jitsu to napkin origami and a cow - the festival concluded with a little less of the high-jinks.
Many of the final 14 Roses last night chose to sing a party-piece, while teacher and Galway Rose Deirdre O'Sullivan opted to show off her prowess on the flute.
German Rose Giulia Kearney was worried her voice wouldn't hold up.
"I'm singing but, as you can hear, my voice is leaving me. So I have had to drink a lot of water and tea."