THE newly-crowned Rose of Tralee was allegedly subjected to racial abuse just days after winning the iconic festival.
A garda probe has been launched after Kirsten Mate Maher was allegedly targeted by someone making racist jibes in a takeaway on John Street in Kilkenny in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The Waterford Rose, who grew up on the Kilkenny border, is half-Zambian half-Irish, and is the first African-Irish woman to win the competition.
It is understood that Ms Maher was enjoying a night out with friends on Saturday night before she was subjected to vile abuse.
Ms Maher confirmed the incident happened to local radio station KCLR FM today but did not comment further.
Paul Osagie, manager of the Blue Door Takeaway, where the alleged incident happened, said that staff and customers were appalled.
He told KCLR FM: "It saddens my heart seeing this happening in Kilkenny."
A garda spokesman also told Independent.ie: "Gardai in Kilkenny are aware of an alleged incident that occurred in a fast food restaurant on John Street, Kilkenny on Sunday the 26 of August 2018 at approx. 3am. Inquiries are on going."
After winning the competition last Tuesday, Ms Maher said that she doesn't think race should be an issue in modern Ireland.
The part-time model and student explained to Independent.ie: "I grew up in Kilkenny, went to school in Kilkenny, it was a small school," she said. "You might get a little bit but it would be same as anyone getting stick for wearing glasses. I don't think it should be anything I should be singled out by, definitely not any more.
"There are so many different races and so many people here it's mad that we have to be surprised when there is a person of colour or someone of mixed race in the Rose of Tralee.
"It's mad how you can get 57 girls to get on well with such different personalities, but I think that's why we get on - because we are OK with difference."