S as a Kerryman I couldn't let this week pass without a mention of Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh, who's became the 56th winner of this ever-popular festival. It is quite extraordinary the amount of controversy this harmless piece of fun and pageantry stirs up every year. Critics queue up to lambast it, they brand it old-fashioned and twee.
However, every year its success confounds these naysayers. They cannot disagree with the viewing figures, which place the coverage as one of the most popular programmes on RTE. This year is no exception and almost a million people tuned in to watch the 36 lovely cailins flirt with Daithi O Se and do their turns. And the highlight of this was one which will silence the critics who mock the event as old fashioned and out of touch with modern Ireland. Days after her win, Maria Walsh revealed that she is a lesbian. Fair play to her, I want to complement her for her forthrightness and candour. Maria is an intelligent, compassionate, successful and articulate young woman and I wish her every success in the future.