Congratulations to Kirsten!

Terri Keane and Michelle Heffernan report

Waterford’s 2018 Rose, Kirsten Maté Maher, from Bigwood (Mullinavat),was last night crowned the Rose of Tralee 2018. Kirsten, who is daughter to a Zambian father and Irish mother, has made history in Tralee this week in becoming the competition’s first ever Irish-African contestant, as well as the third ever Waterfod Rose to win the Rose of Tralee.

Kirsten Maté Maher reacting to news she had won Rose of Tralee 2018. Photo: William Maher

Kirsten Maté Maher reacting to news she had won Rose of Tralee 2018. Photo: William Maher


The 21-year-old personal stylist recalled recently how she was the only mixed race person in her school and felt the need to “straighten my hair and not lighten myself but I did wear lighter make-up, because I wanted to fit in with everyone else. But now that I’ve grown up, I realise that my afro is kind of cool, and you don’t need to change, and you don’t need to fit into a certain category.” Kirsten revealed that she frequently gets quizzed about her nationality because of the colour of her skin. “I get it all the time, ‘Are you really Irish?’ and I am. That’s what I represent and it’s really important to me. For me, this year it’s not something I’m going to speak about because I feel like it’s something I shouldn’t have to speak about, but I suppose, I want to show that you can be a person of colour and be Irish, which is a massive thing.”The Waterford Rose claims that despite what people may think, the Rose of Tralee “is not a pageant. It’s amazing. It’s not about how we look or what we do; it’s about celebrating all different types of women.”
Kirsten celebrating with her fellow Rose contestants. Photo: William Maher

Kirsten celebrating with her fellow Rose contestants. Photo: William Maher


Speaking to Dermot & Dave on Today FM this morning, Kirsten reminded the public how speechless she felt last night upon hearing she had won, and how she is so grateful to the other 56 girls in the competition who she now considers “friends for life”. In a message shared on her social media accounts she says that she cannot wait to bring her new friends to Waterford to celebrate the occasion. Many congratulations again Kirsten.

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