Rose of Tralee Maria Walsh says her sexuality was never a secret but the question never came up during the competition.
The 27-year-old Philadelphia Rose told "Late Late Show" on Ireland's national television network RTE that despite being openly gay for two years no one on the Rose of Tralee committee knew she was gay.
“Nobody asked me whether I was a lesbian. I would have answered if I was asked. I wasn't expecting to win. So to me, it was never going to be an issue,” she said.
"I was asked whether I was single, whether I had a boyfriend and the answer was no," she said. "I wasn't asked whether I was a lesbian.
“I’ve been openly gay for two years. My family and my friends know it and they support it. It came after the fact to the Rose of the Tralee committee and they welcomed it even more. It is a part of my identity,” she said.
"I am a very transparent person and I have nothing to hide."
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When the "Late Late Show’s" host, Ryan Tubridy, asked if she’d thought about revealing her sexuality on stage, she replied,"No, not at all. If it [the conversation] was going that way, I would have openly said it but it didn't."
Although Walsh said she caused a “little bit of scandal,” Anthony O’Gara, the Executive Chairman of the Rose of Tralee festival, has suggested that the judges already knew Walsh was gay, but it neither helped nor harmed her chances of winning.
Walsh said she would be happy if during her reign she could help other young people deal with the challenges of coming out as gay.
“If I could even help one person come out and deal with it in a positive way and have positive reinforcement around that, then my year as a Rose of Tralee has already been completed,” she said.