Flaming locks flock to ginger festival

It may be the of Cork sporting teams but visitors came from as far as the US and New Zealand to show off their ginger roots at the fourth Redhead Convention.

And while the Rose of Tralee, who was crowned last week, hailed from Texas, a native of the Kerry town was chosen as Queen of the Redheads on Saturday, in the Cork harbour village of Crosshaven.

Sarah Mullins shared the coronation with newly crowned King of the Redheads Jack Daly from the Lough in Cork City. Both are students at University College Cork.

“Kerry people might have a small problem with me being claimed for Cork, but we’ll settle that on the field,” laughed the final-year genetics student.

Local rivalries aside, some of the other prize winners travelled much further than across the Kerry border. Gemma Strorar from New Zealand was adjudged the furthest-travelled redhead, while Drusilla Buscemi from Philadelphia had the most freckles per square inch.

The equivalent prize for men went to Donegal man Stephen Campbell, and junior freckle prizes went to Cork pair Daniel Walsh from Carrigaline and Aoife Hynes from Garretstown.

The event saw more than 2,400 people ‘red-gister’ on Saturday alone and organisers hope to have raised well over €5,000 for the Irish Cancer Society when the collections are totted up.

The fun kicked off on Friday, and highlights included the world premiere of documentary Being Ginger, a redhead parade, and yesterday’s carrot-tossing contest.

While the sailing village was awash with proud redheads for three days, King Jack said having red hair can still draw jibes from children and adults.

“Everyone still gets a bit of it, so it’s great when you see big crowds like this,” he said. “Especially for young kids, because they get to see there’s nothing taboo about being a redhead, that there’s no reason behind it except people’s ignorance — and a tinge of jealousy.”

Even the canine visitors were getting in on the act, with a Bordeaux mastiff called Yomeka loving the attention after being named Best Red Dog.

“This festival started out as a joke between my brother Denis and I to see how many redheads we could bring to Crosshaven,” said organiser Joleen Cronin. “We had no idea how big it would become.”

The popularity of the event drew three carloads of Reaps from Co Mayo, earning all 11 of them the honour of being the Best Red Family.

And the future looks bright with so many children proudly parading their red locks, among them the Youngest Redhead, 5-week-old Sean Kenny from Cork.

Maybe there was more than one future king born last month?

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