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Who is maria walsh dating
How will the story stack up against the greatest films about business?
“It’s caused a bit of a scandal”, she tells me, with a slightly tired smile.
“It’s all still very much a whirlwind.” To its critics, the Rose of Tralee is nothing more than a show of pretty, giddy girls in dresses, sashes and strings of pearls, memorably parodied in Father Ted as the ‘Lovely Girls’ competition.
“My friends think when I hit 50 I’ll have a nervous breakdown because I never had to worry about my inner demons.
I am who I am and I’m extremely proud of who I am.” Yet although Walsh may have won the Rose, the country that crowned her would still deny her the right to marry another woman; same-sex marriage remains illegal in Ireland.
“I met someone on a random Friday night, as millions of people do, and instantly connected with her.
And I thought to myself, 'I’m going to be with her'.” Walsh’s family supported her decision, although there were questions about what it would mean for her personal life and career (she has a journalism degree and now works for clothing brand Anthropologie).But there’s certainly a determination to use her newfound fame in a positive way. It’s a hugely powerful message to send to Middle Ireland and the voters who will need to be convinced next Spring.“It’s fantastic if I can educate people who don’t understand what gay is like, or if I can be an example to anyone voting. To think there's nothing more to this newly crowned Rose than blinding smiles, pretty frocks and saccharine ideals, would be to underestimate her.Over a million people watched it this year, so it’s almost comical when people say it’s irrelevant or not celebrating women in the right way.” Yet, just days before the festival began, Ireland attracted international indignation when a woman who had been raped was forced to give birth against her will.As one Irish commentator put it, “womanhood in Ireland remains a strictly policed construct.” Many would argue that the Rose of Tralee only reinforces this view.The criteria for winning the festival is, astonishingly, still based on the lyrics of a romantic ballad, ‘The Rose of Tralee’, written by a wealthy 19th century merchant who was in love with a ‘lovely and fair’ maid.Although Walsh, with her Natalie Portman-esque good looks is undeniably beautiful, she probably wasn’t quite what he had in mind, as she herself admits.While the festival also judges entrants on their personality and skills, critics say it promotes archaic ideas of 'debutante-like' womanhood: entrants must be unmarried (although the competition only opened its doors to unmarried mothers in 2008). “It’s not just about pretty dresses”, she tells me forcefully.“It was at the forefront of Irish culture and celebrating women even before its time.But Walsh believes that attitudes to the festival’s women are progressing - the overwhelmingly positive, although completely frenzied, response to her sexuality is proof.Yet people in Tralee tell me there are many who privately think she should not have won.