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Aoibhe Sheehan at Rumley's Open Farm | © Darragh Kane/Courtesy of the Irish Redhead Convention
Aoibhe Sheehan at Rumley's Open Farm | © Darragh Kane/Courtesy of the Irish Redhead Convention
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Ireland's Annual Redhead Convention To Celebrate Its 7th Year

Picture of Kate Phelan
Updated: 9 February 2017
With the highest occurrence of natural redheads in the world – at ten percent of the population – Ireland is uniquely qualified to celebrate this rarest of hair colours. And celebrate they do, with the Irish Redhead Convention: a ‘festival of ginger loving madness’ held every year in the beautiful Cork village of Crosshaven. Taking place from August 19th to 21st, this year’s festival will be its seventh iteration.

What Is Rare Is Beautiful

An Irish Redhead Convention might sound like a punchline, but its intention is to be a genuine celebration of difference. Globally, natural-born redheads comprise only one to two percent of the entire population, with the highest proportion in Ireland and Scotland. The convention brings together disparate members of that natural red-haired community from across Ireland and the world, for an event dedicated to honouring their own rareness, while creating an atmosphere where red hair isn’t the minority.

Hundreds of redheads near and far will flock to Crosshaven, Co. Cork for the Irish Redhead Convention | Joleen and Denis Cronin, founders of the Irish Redhead Convention from August 19th to 21st | ©Darragh KaneDarragh Kane

Hundreds of redheads near and far will flock to Crosshaven, Co. Cork for the Irish Redhead Convention from August 19th to 21st | © Darragh Kane/Courtesy of the Irish Redhead Convention

Origins

Created by a pair of red-haired siblings, Joleen and Denis Cronin, the festival actually did begin as a joke among their family. Seven years later, it has grown into an international affair, attracting hundreds of people to the sailing village of Crosshaven and requiring a team of 50 volunteers to organise its jam-packed programme.

Joleen and Denis Cronin, founders of the Irish Redhead Convention | ©Darragh Kane

Joleen and Denis Cronin, founders of the Irish Redhead Convention | © Darragh Kane/Courtesy of the Irish Redhead Convention

Redhead-Themed Events

Attendees can expect 40 redhead-themed events, from ‘ginger speed dating’ to freckle counting to the world’s largest redhead céilí dance to carrot tossing championships to performances and exhibitions by red haired musicians and artists. This year’s King and Queen of Redheads will be crowned, while in the Kids Zone, there will be mandarin and spoon racing, a redheads vs non-gingers tug of war and a gingerbread man-decorating contest. By registering as a natural redhead or a member of the ‘ginger appreciation community’ and purchasing a festival ticket, visitors can avail of a ‘ginger discount scheme’ that applies to a number of local Crosshaven businesses, giving money off food, drink, activities and services for the duration of the festival.

Aoibhe Sheehan from Lisgoold, Co. Cork getting ready for the upcoming Convention with the Highland Cow at Rumley's Open Farm | ©Darragh Kane

Aoibhe Sheehan at Rumley’s Open Farm | © Darragh Kane/Courtesy of the Irish Redhead Convention

A Good Cause

As fun as it sounds, the Irish Redhead Convention isn’t all frivolity. A disadvantage of being a redhead is that you have a lower concentration of melanin pigment in your skin, making you more prone to developing skin cancer. The convention raises much-needed money and awareness for their charity partners, the Irish Cancer Society – they have already donated over €30,000 to fund cancer care and research. This year they will be highlighting the charity’s ‘SunSmart‘ campaign throughout the weekend.

Queen of the Redheads, Grainne Keena, and Macra na Feirme member Michael O'Sullivan | ©Darragh Kane

Last year’s Queen of the Redheads, Grainne Keena, and Macra na Feirme member Michael O’Sullivan | © Darragh Kane/Courtesy of the Irish Redhead Convention

The Practicalities

Crosshaven is easily accessible from Cork city by bus and only a 20-minute drive from Cork Airport. Most Crosshaven accommodation is already full for this year’s festival weekend, but the convention’s own campsite still has spaces, a 15-minute walk from the village with on-site showers and a bus stop servicing Cork city. Alternatives can be found in Douglas, Kinsale, Cork Airport or the city, all within a 30-minute drive.