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A thorny question about the new Rose

The revelation that the winner of this year's Rose of Tralee, Maria Walsh, is gay shouldn't really cause any kind of a stir.

It was statistically inevitable that some of the thousands of contestants over the years would be so. There's also no doubt that Maria, who came across as beautiful and articulate, was a worthy winner.

But before RTE start congratulating themselves on the choice, and issuing press releases about how this finally dispels the oft-repeated criticism about the Rose of Tralee pageant being old fashioned and twee, the following question should be asked.


It is traditional for Rose contestants to be asked about either their male escorts, or their boyfriends, often both.

Indeed both the New Zealand Rose who appeared before Maria, and the Carlow Rose who appeared immediately after, were quizzed at length about their personal lives. Maria, however, escaped without the slightest question on the subject.

So if RTE do genuinely believe that the Rose is about modern, independent women, how come Maria's sexuality wasn't even alluded to?

Was it just a coincidence, or could it possibly be that they felt such a revelation might come as a shock, and damage her chances of winning the Rose of Tralee?

A show which, they keep reminding us, is about modern, independent women, and not old-fashioned in any way...