Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh, from Shrule, has welcomed the positive feedback and commentary in the media after she revealed she has been openly gay for the past two years.
The story was published in the Sun on Sunday.
Ms Walsh attended the dramatic Mayo v Kerry All Ireland semi-final showdown in Croke Park on the same day the article appeared.
Immediately after the game, and still breathless from all of the on-pitch excitement, Ms Walsh acknowledged her personal life had become something of a talking point.
However, she welcomed the positive feedback, particularly the high praise from former government minister Mary O’Rourke, who speaking to Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio, said the honest nature of the story further underlined Ms Walsh’s worthiness as the Rose of Tralee.
Ms O’Rourke referred to the famous lyrics in the Rose of Tralee song, which speaks of a ‘truth of her eyes ever dawning’.
“I don’t know if that was what William Muchinock had in mind when he wrote the Rose of Tralee but it’s a lovely comment from Mary O’Rourke,” said Ms Walsh.
“One of the first people I met this morning was a shopkeeper in a filling station enroute to Croke Park. When he congratulated me, I asked him if it was for being the Rose of Tralee or after reading the story in the Sun. ‘Both’ he replied.”
Ms Walsh said her family is “very proud” of her.
“The most important thing to them is that I’m happy and healthy. Right now, I’m more excited about the fact that Mayo will have another chance to overcome Kerry next week and hopefully reach next month’s All-Ireland final.”
Since being crowned as the 56th Rose of Tralee, Ms Walsh has enjoyed a very busy week, complete with an ice-bucket challenge in the Tralee Town Park Fountain, a homecoming celebration in her home town of Shrule, and a welcome home event in Connemara, where her mother Noreen spent most of her childhood.
At the game on Sunday, she was a guest of GAA president, Liam O’Neill.
Ms Walsh flew back to Philadelphia on Sunday to return to her work as a studio manager in the fashion photography industry.