‘Shadow army’ of redheads keep foxy gene alive in Europe

It seems that news of the demise of ginger people has been greatly exaggerated, as a “shadow army” of carriers of the gene exists across Europe.

As part of the Irish Redhead Convention taking place in Crosshaven in Cork from Aug 23 to 25, research will be put forward showing a new era of redheads could be unleashed, as large numbers of people across north-west Europe are carriers of the redhead gene.

The managing director of IrelandsDNA, Alistair Moffat, explained the study was carried out to try and understand why couples that don’t have red hair produce children with red hair.

“My wife and I have three kids and two of them have red hair but neither of us have red hair and I wondered what was going on,” he said. “I knew it wasn’t the milkman because we both had our DNA tested with IrelandsDNA. What we wanted to understand is how parents have red-haired children if they themselves don’t have red hair.

“The answer is that they themselves are carriers of the recessive gene variant. Both parents have to have it. If they both have it, there is about a 25% chance that they will have red haired children.”

Mr Moffat said that, far from dying out, the gingers of this world have a “shadow army”, with huge numbers in Europe carrying the gene, ready to pass it on to the next generation.

“There is an army of carriers in north-western Europe, let me tell you,” he said. “There is a shadow army behind you. We are going to announce it [numbers carrying the gene] at the convention the weekend after next in Crosshaven, so I am not going to give away numbers but it’s big. Much bigger than the number of people who have red hair.”

At a rough estimate, said Mr Moffat, about 0.6% of the world’s population had red hair, with this rising to between 2% and 6% in north-west Europe. However, Ireland and Britain, were “the red-headed nations”, he added.

“We’ve had reports of hot spots in Russia but we haven’t substantiated them ourselves, and also in Syria. I suspect that is to do with a founder effect where somebody, or perhaps a group of related people, who have got the red-haired gene variant dominating a population much earlier.”

*The Redhead Convention takes place in Crosshaven in Cork from Aug 23 to 25.

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