And there was no shortage of Donegal women in Tralee this year!

Waterford Rose Kirsten Mate Maher has won the 59th Rose of Tralee Festival.

Kirsten is the first African-Irish Rose to win the traditional pageant. The 21-year-old student and part-time model was speechless upon winning the crown before being joined by her dad Kwalo, who is from Zambia, and her mum Jacinta, who is from Waterford.

The winning Rose is a singer with the Island of Ireland Peace Choir and plays with the Waterford Ladies’ first team. In September, she will begin the pursuit of a career in computer programming by studying Multimedia and Application Development.

Kirsten sang Nina Simone’s Feeling Good for her party piece on Monday.

Reflecting on the won today, Kirsten wrote on Instagram: “It is hard to describe how I feel this morning but I am bursting with pride.”

On her plans for the year, Kirsten said she hopes to do all her supporters proud and ‘Just be sound’.

A huge Donegal contingent was present at this year’s festival in Co. Kerry. Four young women from the county proudly wore sashes for Donegal (Niamh Duggan), Yorkshire (Alana Gallagher), New Zealand (Jolene McLaughlin) and Perth (Laura Cannon).

Perth Rose: Laura Cannon

Coolboy native Laura Cannon had her on-stage interview with Dáithí Ó Sé on night two in the Dome. The Coronary Care and Intensive Care nurse talked about following her heart to Australia to be with her partner Charlie. Her anecdote about swallowing a coin as a child earned plenty of laughs from the audience too.

Laura also discussed her father Liam’s valuable community work. Liam Cannon established the Raphoe Pastoral Centre Counselling Service to help children and adults on a voluntary basis.

Laura was initially introduced as the Dubai Rose, but handled the mix-up with ease. Speaking to James Patrice after the interview, she said: “I’m now the new Dubai Rose, sorry!

“It was a big surprise it was me!”

Tuesday night’s finale wraps up an exciting week for all 57 Roses and their support teams. We’re sure to see more from the Roses though, as they all continue as ambassadors of their respective areas until next year.

Catch up on the highlights of Night One here, with finalists Alana Gallagher and Jolene McLaughlin:

Roses from Donegal have their big moment on Night One in Tralee