The new Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh has revealed that she is gay.
Maria Walsh opened up about her sexuality in an interview with the Irish Sun on Sunday after winning the competition on Tuesday.
"I'm confident in who I am as a person," the 27-year-old said.
"To me, being gay is normal. I told my parents and they were supportive, as I knew they would be."
The 56th winner of the Rose of Tralee has said that she started a relationship with a woman some years back which lasted for two years, but she is now single.
A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Maria moved to Shrule in Co Mayo with her family 20 years ago but following her graduation in Journalism and Visual Media at Griffith College, moved to New York and later to Philadelphia.
Maria drew tears from family members during her interview at the Dome in Tralee on Tuesday night when she remembered her cousin 19-year-old Teresa Molloy, one of four women killed in a crash on the N17 near Milltown, Co Galway in November 2009.
“It’s moments like this, like being in the Rose of Tralee, that make you really seize the day and appreciate life and take everything as it comes,” said Maria.
“She has given me a lot of good luck to date, so I know she’s looking down on me and my family.
"I'm not ashamed of my sexuality by any means," she told the Irish Sun on Sunday.
"The Rose of Tralee is about celebrating women's intelligence, careers, their volunteer work. The question of sexuality never came up. To me, being gay is normal; it's natural."
Former Rose of Tralee Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin tweeted: “Our new @RoseofTralee_ Maria Walsh is a wonderful representative for both the festival and young women everywhere.”
Ms Walsh's sexuality is likely to "create some interest, hopefully all positive", the executive chairman of the long-running festival Anthony O'Gara has said.