Philly's Maria Walsh Rose above the rest in Ireland

Posted: August 22, 2014

PHILLY'S own Maria Walsh took home the title yesterday in the Rose of Tralee, an international competition based in Kerry, Ireland, celebrating Irish culture. Walsh, a studio manager at Anthropologie, is the first Philly girl to win.

Walsh is full of Philly spirit. She told the Independent about her win: "I'm not the only short-haired, tattooed or even long-haired, tattooed woman out there, and I'm looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and just seeing what happens."

Walsh, who was born in Boston and moved back to Ireland when she was 7 before returning to the U.S., wasn't even the front-runner. The Irish Times reported that Abu Dhabi Rose Patrice McGillycuddy would win.

So what exactly is the Rose of Tralee? "It's a very uniquely Irish tradition. There's really nothing like it. You can't compare it to something like Miss America," said Karen Conaghan Race, of the Philadelphia chapter that has been around since 2002. "It's really about the girls having a set of traits that would make them a great role model for a younger generation of women. It reflects the spirit of the modern Irish woman. Grace and beauty may be a part of it, but it's more about style."

Race told me that Walsh was picked from about 10 other Philly girls. "She's stunningly beautiful and has amazing style," Race said. "She's so effortlessly nice and she's a natural trendsetter. She's one of those people who doesn't have to try at all."

Eventually, Walsh beat out 70 other contestants, including the 32 who made it to the finals.

"Walsh is such a good representation of the Irish because of her background," Race said. "She was born here in the States, she moved back to her homeland and came back. Having a foot in both worlds is something that a lot in the community can relate to."

KYW's Donahue retires

Harry Donahue announced that he will retire from KYW NewsRadio 1060. He has been with the station since 1973, serving as a morning anchor among other responsibilities that included covering two Super Bowl appearances by the Eagles, the MOVE bombings and 9/11.

"Harry's voice is one of Philadelphia's most familiar, and his contributions to KYW are immeasurable," said Marc Rayfield, senior vice president and market manager for CBS Radio Philadelphia. "He is a consummate professional and will be sorely missed by our many listeners who set their alarms to 1060 each morning, as well as those who have worked with him all these years."

Donahue, who attended St. Joe's Prep and St. Joseph's University, will remain the play-by-play voice for Temple men's football and basketball games.

His last day at the station is tomorrow.

Bring 'Home' home

Multihyphenate entertainer Gerald Webb ("True Blood," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia") is bringing "A House is Not a Home," the horror movie in which he takes top billing, to the Delaware Valley for the first time. It will have its local premiere at 2 p.m. Sunday at Theater N at Nemours (1007 N. Orange St., Wilmington, Del.).

Webb, who also served as a talent executive on the social-media friendly "Sharknado" and "Sharknado 2: The Second One," described the film as a classic haunted-house tale, a genre that has been bolstered by recent entries like "Insidious" and "The Conjuring."

Webb's real goal with the film, and all projects he works on (including the "Sharknado" franchise), is to increase diversity in Hollywood. In "Home," for instance, he and director Christopher Ray made sure not to tell the screenwriters they commissioned that the film would feature a black family so that it wouldn't devolve into stereotypes. Webb said it's not just African-Americans that he's looking out for but all niches of the Hollywood community. "The more we can hold hands, the more of an impact we can have," he said.

G.R.L. power

Laurentius Purnama, owner of Bella Vista's Laurentius Salon (815 Christian St.), styled up the ladies of G.R.L. before their appearance yesterday on "Good Morning America." Purnama is no stranger to working with celebs. He did Britney Spears' hair for her daring Video Music Awards lip-lock with Madonna.


Email: eichelm@phillynews.com

On Twitter: @PhillyGossipDN

Online: ph.ly/DNGossip

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