MORE OF THE SAME?International Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh is pictured with Donnacha Roche, Mayo Rose Centre and Minister for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, TD, at the launch of the 2015 Mayo Rose Recruitment Campaign.?Pic: Michael Donnelly
Mayo’s Rose of Tralee contest moves to Westport
Winner Maria launches 2015 search for Mayo representative
SHE may still have over half her term to serve as Rose of Tralee but 2014 winner Maria Walsh has been enlisted to help find her successor and is currently on a whistlestop tour of all 32 counties to launch the search for the 2015 winner.
Maria was in Westport last Sunday afternoon with Mayo Rose of Tralee organiser Donnacha Roche to meet with local Minister for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, TD, and to launch the Mayo search in the Castlecourt Hotel, which will be venue for this year’s Mayo Rose of Tralee selection show.
“We have been in Castlebar and Ballina so we decided to keep the show on the road and move to Westport in 2015. The date for the selection event is Saturday, April 11, here in the Castlecourt Hotel, and the closing date for applications is March 27,” said Mr Roche.
Minister Ring said he was delighted to see the Mayo Rose of Tralee selection coming to Westport.
“We’ve held many big events in Westport down through the years so its great to see the selection night coming to the Castlecourt here in the town. The one thing about this festival is that it starts locally, goes from county, to province and onto a the international stage down in Tralee.
“Mayo has been very lucky down through the years in the competition and gained great profile as a result of the calibre of contestants with strong links to the county.
“Maria Walsh has done a fantastic job in her short time as the Rose of Tralee and I think the competition has benefitted from the calibre of the winners they have chosen down through the years. Maria is certainly not afraid to wear the green and red and she has been a great ambassador for Mayo.”
Heavy work load
Maria has now being a little over five months in her position as Rose of Tralee and she admits it been ‘unbelievably busy but thoroughly enjoyable.’
The Philadephia Rose has travelled to both India and South Africa on charity work with the Hope Foundation and Mellon Educate and next month she will travel to Chernobyl with Adi Roche and the Chernobyl Children’s Project. However, as she says herself, being a ‘Mayo girl at heart’, one of her main highlights was being presented with a Mayo jersey in front of a packed Croke Park at half-time in the All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry last August.
“I don’t think they expected me to put on the jersey on but it was a real exciting moment, especially as it was the day that my sexual orientation had been revealed to the country too, there was such a buzz having so many people clapping and showing their support.”
Maria was of course speaking last Sunday, the day the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, had told Miriam O’Callaghan in a radio interview that he was gay, and Maria said she admired his bravery in doing so.
“I am proud when people make the decision, and someone like the Minister will feel like it is important to be transparent. It is bizarre to see your sexual orientation plastered across newspapers and on the news but I myself was protective of my parents, I didn’t want them to feel uncomfortable, but they were so good. In the end, I hope people will feel empowered when they see people like the Minister being so open and frank.”
Spreading the word
Maria is really enjoying encouraging young women to take part in next year’s Rose of Tralee as she feels there is far more to the event than ‘a lovely girls competition’.
“There is a real substance to the competition that a lot of the public don’t see. On TV, you really only get a snapshot of the week, but behind the scenes you get to meet the most wonderful, warm and independent people. It just a fabulous place where you meet so many fascinating women with drive and passion and I know anyone who takes part in the Rose of Tralee will remember it for the rest of their lives. So women of Mayo, get filling out those forms.”
MORE To enter this year’s Rose of Tralee competition go to www.roseoftralee.ie/roses/apply-to-be-a-rose