Some 360 enthusiastic ginger-tops from all over the world gathered in Crosshaven, Co Cork, on Saturday, determined to paint the picturesque town red and raise much needed funds for cancer research.
Revellers had dozens of light-hearted, ginger-themed events to choose from, such as orange lawn-bowling, a red beard competition, a freckle-counting contest, and even fire eating.
But the centrepiece was a cook-off, featuring flame-haired chefs who were instructed to use strictly red ingredients and compete for the Olympic-style “gold and carrots” medal.
Top red-haired stylists from US fashion website howtobearedhead.com were also in town to give female festival-goers make-up, clothing, and hair tips.
Flame-haired organiser Joleen Cronin said: “It’s amazing how this has taken off, to be honest, because I put on the festival a couple of years ago as a bit of a one-off and never expected it would develop into an annual event. But word has spread about it and it looks like this is our busiest one yet.
“The bottom line is it’s a lot of fun, it’s a big day for Crosshaven which everyone supports, and most importantly of all it raises money for the Irish Cancer Society.”
But not everybody saw the funny side of it. Joleen revealed that carrot-topped Taoiseach Enda Kenny, who turned down an invitation to the same event last year, once again made his excuses this time round.
However, ambitious Joleen, who, along with her equally ginger brother Denis hosted the bulk of the events in the family pub, Cronins, admits she still has some way to go before she can declare it the planet’s best ginger festival.
And next month she will travel to Holland to spy on the famous Roodharigendag, a longer-established redhead convention which attracts up to 5,000 revellers from 50 different countries to the city of Breda.
Joleen said: “It will be interesting to see what’s happening over at the Dutch festival and it should certainly give me a few more ideas.
“Unlike us, Holland is hardly known for its redheads. But strangely, I’m half Dutch and all the Dutch side of my family have red hair, whereas none of the Irish do.”