The new Rose of Tralee, Westmeath Rose Rachel Duffy, has told RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland that she is "absolutely blown away" by the reception she has received since her win on Tuesday night.

The 24-year-old NUIG graduate from the village of Rosemount is the first Westmeath Rose to win the title.

We need your consent to load this comcast-player contentWe use comcast-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

She was asked by presenter Mary Wilson if her win had "sunk in yet".

"Absolutely not! Not yet!" she laughed.

Rachel again paid tribute to her late mother, who passed away when Rachel was nine years old, her father, and her local community.

"This whole experience, ever since becoming the Westmeath Rose, has been very special for our family," she said. "These things are bittersweet. It's hard when someone's missing, but my mam was there in her own way last night, and I definitely feel like she was looking down on me.

"I was nine years old and my sister was twelve and my brother was fifteen, so in fairness... My dad is a very good man, and he's taken such good care of us. The people in my community got us over the line and were always there for anything we ever needed. I'm very lucky."

Recording an interview for RTÉ News / Photo: Jennie O'Sullivan

"Regardless of winning in the end, the whole experience was just so amazing," she continued. "To see the joy on my family's faces throughout the week, to see the craic they were having... There were lots of tears, even for such a happy time there were lots of tears.

"From start to finish, this whole experience has made me realise what a privilege it is to be a part of the Rose of Tralee, to represent my county, and now to be able to represent all the girls that were with me the last few weeks. I've made so many lifelong friendships and memories that I'll cherish forever."

When asked if she thinks it will change her life and whether her plans to become a secondary school teacher will be put on hold, Rachel replied: "I'm not sure yet, we'll see. There's so many things going around in my head at the minute, but it's definitely something that I'll have to sit down with my family and have a talk about.

"I'm young, and I've lots of time on my hands. At the end of the day, my career and my dreams to be a teacher are always something I do want to follow so we'll see."

"Regardless of winning in the end, the whole experience was just so amazing" / Photo: Jennie O'Sullivan

Rachel concluded that she is relishing her "bit of a homecoming" tomorrow in Co Westmeath.

"My family and friends are busy now organising that so we'll have to put on a good show for all the Roses and the escorts!"

Watch the Rose of Tralee on the RTÉ Player.