Westmeath’s Rachel Duffy, 24, is the 2022 Rose of Tralee, the first winner from her county.
Rachel, from the village of Rosemount, succeeds the 2019 winner, Dr Sinéad Flanagan, from Limerick. The pageant has not been held since then because of the pandemic.
Thirty-three International Roses represented the Irish diaspora worldwide including centres in Ireland, Britain, United States, Canada, Australia and the Middle East.
Rachel told MC told Dáithí Ó Sé: “We’ve had a great year in Westmeath this year between the Tailteann Cup, Fleadh Cheoil and now we have the Rose of Tralee.”
She said she would have loved for her late mother, who died when Rachel was much younger, to have been present.
“I would have loved for my mam to have been here, but she has the best seat in the house tonight, and I just want to say to my family that I hope I have made you proud and I love you so much,” she said.
Last year, Rachel graduated from NUI Galway with a BA in Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies and Spanish and plans to complete her Master’s degree and to become a Spanish and English teacher.
This year the international increased the age limit to 29 and changed its rules to welcome contestants who are transgender and/or married.
But the organisers said no married or trans women were among this year’s contestants.
Tuesday’s final night of the festival included a world record attempt for the longest Riverdance attempted by the 1,200-strong audience.
Texas Rose Arden Stringer (29) had been the bookies’ favourite to win.
Her parents sold their home there and bought a house in Oughterard, Co Galway.
Rose said she, too, plans to move to Ireland.