Redheads are redheads because of their ginger gene – „a series of mutations in the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R), a gene located on chromosome 16“. Now we know! Familiar characteristics common in redheads are lighter eye colours, fair skin with lots of freckles, a hightened sensitivity to ultraviolet rays and risk of skin cancer. Red hair accounts for only 0.6% of the global population and is the rarest of hair colours. At 10%, Ireland has the second highest per capita redhead-rate (after Scotland). Born in the wrong age of time, predominantly females endowed with a mass of threateningly red hair were destined to be burned at the stake, because – ooooheee – they harboured mysterious magical powers and rode on broomsticks fuelled by witchcraft. Fortunately the attitude towards enigmatic powers has changed drastically. Today, they are rather considered an asset than a curse and even for a redhead, longevity has become a realistic possibility.
Crosshaven, County Cork, August 19 – 21
One more reason to celebrate true gingerness like the Irish do! Each August – 2016 will be the 7th edition – the village of Crosshaven turns into a happily rippling sea of ginger, when redheads from across the globe gather for a unique festival of „flame hair, freckles and frolics“.
Organisers and guests alike seem to be equipped with a sound sense of humour and the competitions offered are nothing but great fun. Expert judges assess participants’ degree of „gingerness“: the most freckles per square inch, the reddest eyebrows, the best Wannabe Redhead or the best Redhead Dog, just to name a few of the entertaining disciplines. Not to forget activities like carrot tossing or the redhead conservation event Ginger Speed Dating – an endeavour to preserve the ginger gene and to „combat all threats of extinction.“ If two genuine redheads meet, all their children will be fantastically red!
Fostering a good cause: Donations for the cancer fund
Founders of the convention are redhead siblings Joleen and Denis Cronin, also vivid moneyraisers for the Irish Cancer Society, into whose fund proceeds of the Redhead Convention will be flowing.
“Redheads are rare and stand out from the crowd. A lot of what we do at the convention empowers redheads to be proud of our uniqueness and differences” says Joleen. “It is wonderful to see attitudes towards red hair change in a positive way, especially from children who may have been teased or bullied for being different. The weekend provides so many opportunities for redheads to meet, share life experiences and make great friends.”
Information and registration: www.redheadconvention.com
Photo credits: Header image ©Christina Feyerke, family photo courtesy of The Redhead Convention