Maria (24) is a journalist who was born in Boston but her family moved back to Mayo when she was just seven.
She was embraced by show host Dáithí Ó Sé after the announcement watched by close to a million people around the world.
There were originally 70 entries from around the world, cut down to 32 for the final two nights occasion.
She moved back to the US after gaining a journalism degree and now works as a studio manager in Philadelphia for the Anthropologie group, ironically a division of Urban Outfitters who have often been criticized for their racy Irish T shirts.
Maria is a native of Boston, but she grew up in a small village called Shrule, Co. Mayo.
She relocated to Shrule with her family when she was 7 and returned back to the States in 2010. Her father Vincent is from Mayo and her mother Noreen, like Maria, was born in Boston but grew up in Leitir Mor in Connemara.
She has three siblings: Kevin, Eileen and Michael who are all dotted around the world in Perth, Los Angeles and Galway. Maria studied Journalism and Visual Media in Griffith College, Dublin. An avid GAA player and supporter, Maria plays football for the Notre Dame Ladies. She has been a resident of of Philadelphia for three years and has enjoyed every minute of it.
The Rose of Tralee Festival ran true to form this year, delivering nights packed with surprises and entertainment for all in its 55th year.
The Roses, contestants of Irish descent from all around the globe, provided lovely, fun performances on the big stage. And then some performances of the less conventional sort took place backstage with Aidan Power on the exclusive show, ‘Live from the Red Room.’
Check out some of the highlights from last night’s show, including host Daithi Ó’Sé having two buckets of ice water dumped on his head (while he’s still in his suit) as he took on the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge,’ meant to promote awareness for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He was challenged by his cousin in the US:
Then, Sydney Rose Imelda Finnegan gave Daithi a lesson on how to dance the ‘Melbourne Shuffle’ – see how he fares:
Daithi received a less conventional lesson from Toronto Rose Katie Blundell, who taught him a thing or two about how they do things in Canada. Dressed in a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and winter hat, Daithi learned a bit about hockey stick-handling.
“It’s called ‘buttering the toast,” she joked with Daithi, “You know, Kerrygold kind of stuff.”
Meanwhile, backstage on ‘Live from the Red Room,’ Scottish Rose Michelle Kelly showcased a strange talent of her own. She was first to perform on stage, so she had some time to kill for the remainder of the show.
She proved to be able to stuff four dessert tea cakes in her mouth at once – watch it here: