A Galway woman was crowned queen-bee at the annual Irish Redhead Convention last weekend.
The convention crowns the King and Queen of the Redheads, and Galway's very own Emma Ní Chearúil was announced as Queen. "I first heard about the convention two or three years ago while putting a show together for Raidió na Life," she said. "After interviewing a few people from the convention, I thought it sounded like fun if nothing else. I have followed the festival for a few years online, and have written about it for different platforms, but never had the chance to attend myself. It's really just something different, a good laugh, a chance to meet people, and for a great cause too."
More than 2,500 redheads descended on Cork for the convention. Now in its seventh year, convention-goers were treated to a host of activities which all included a certain colour! There was the world's largest redheaded ceili dance, ginger vs non-ginger tug-of-wars, and famed sheep shearer 'Red Shearin' who sheared six sheep in world record time at the event. Redheaded attendees were also vying for a number of different and much-lauded titles including best red beard, most freckles per square inch, and best redhead couple, granny, and baby.
The convention has teamed with the Irish Cancer Society for the last seven years, in a bid to promote redhead health while on holidays, or staying in the sun. To date, the convention has raised €30,000 for the charity, and has been growing in size year on year. "The convention promotes a Sun Safe Campaign alongside the Irish Cancer Society, which runs with the redhead theme, but is relevant to everyone. Cancer is something that has affected all of us in some shape or form, and which could affect any of us in the future. Obviously there is no known cure yet, but we do know that we can take steps in preventing it and raising awareness of that is so important."
The event has been described as a "a whacky festival of ginger lovin' madness". The red hair gene is most popular in Scotland, with the highest percentage residing in the northern territory. Ireland ranks second on the list, with 10 per cent of all redheads living in the State. Worldwide, the red hair colour accounts for 0.6 per cent of the world's population, and Ní Chearúil feels all redheads should be proud of this heritage. "I was never ashamed of my hair and personally never had any major trouble growing up, but there definitely was this awareness that being 'ginger' was something you would get teased for, even if only as a joke. Because of that, I think I never really appreciated being a redhead until I grew up, like most things we have to grow into ourselves before we appreciate what we have been given. In that regard, I think the festival is brilliant as it is very family-orientated, and you have children from a young age being told that this is something different, and special about them, and that they have something to be proud of. Only two or three per cent of the world share this with them."
Queen of the Redheads, Ms Ní Chearúil, will now be an ambassador for the convention and the charity for the upcoming year, and she is calling for everyone to get involved, regardless of hair colour. "Absolutely, redheads should attend, everyone should. It is a lovely atmosphere and interesting to hear others from around the world talk about experiences or heritage, especially when they are coming from somewhere that red hair would not be as commonplace as it is here.