Kirsten Mate Maher has been crowned the 2018 Rose of Tralee and has become the third woman representing Waterford to take the coveted title.
RTÉ’s Dáithí Ó Sé announced the result in front of nearly one million television viewers and an audience of 2,000 people in the Festival Dome last night.
21 year-old Kirsten was presented with her sash and tiara by 2017 Rose of Tralee Dr Jennifer Byrne and Robbie Scanlan, Managing Director of Tipperary Crystal, lead sponsors of the Rose of Tralee International Festival.
She was then whisked away to her third Festival parade of the week through the streets of Tralee where thousands of people turned out for the Midnight Madness fireworks display.
Kirsten said: “I am totally shocked, I cannot put into words how surprised and overwhelmed I am right now. It was such an amazing experience and the girls that are in my class of 2018 are just amazing. I cannot get over the amount of friendships that I’ve made for life and the plans we had already made tonight. It’s just unbelievable.”
Kirsten, who performed the Nina Simone classic ‘I’m Feeling Good’ as her party piece during Monday night’s TV show, loves singing and sings with the island of Ireland Peace Choir which was formed in the wake of The Omagh bombing in Co Tyrone 30 years ago last week.
The eldest of four children and the daughter of Jacinta Maher from Mullinavat and Kwalo Maté from Zambia, Kirsten hopes to pursue a career in computer programming.
Speaking in her first press conference after the Rose of Tralee TV show, she said: “I actually just got accepted into my course yesterday, so I haven’t clicked any buttons yet. I might have to click on the ‘defer’ button. I haven’t thought this far [ahead], I really haven’t and I don’t know what I’m going to do yet. I have to make a few plans.”
Roses from 57 communities in Ireland and around the world took part in the 2018 Rose of Tralee International Festival which began last Friday and featured three parades, two fireworks displays, 80 hours of free street entertainment, an Oktoberfest event, Fashion Show and Luminarium.