Cork's St Patrick’s Day parade to be spiced with ginger

It may be a green day around the world but the rebel county is adding a splash of red to its St Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Cork's St Patrick’s Day parade to be spiced with ginger

A foxy float of fun-loving freckled redheads is set to feature in Cork city’s March 17 parade as part of a celebration of our famous hair colour — one of the rarest tones in the world.

Some of the gingers on the float will also feature in a striking new portrait exhibition of red heads from the around the world, shot by photographer Jörg Köster as part of a unique five-year project, which will be unveiled at Cork Airport next month.

Jörg’s fascination with photographing redheads began five years ago when the Cork-based advertising, fashion and food photographer was shooting Irish clothing products for German catalogues.

A friend alerted him to the Irish Redhead Convention — the now world-famous wacky celebration of red hair — which takes place in Crosshaven, Co Cork, every August.

The freckle-fest organisers invited him to set up a photo studio at the event and redheads were invited to get their portrait for free, while proceeds from the sales of prints were donated to the Irish Cancer Society, raising almost €4,000 so far.

Jörg now has a portfolio of thousands of redhead portraits from all over the world, featuring the full colour spectrum from strawberry blonde to flaming auburn — a project which would have taken decades had it not been for the annual gathering of gingers in Cork.

“I am very excited to show a selection of my redhead portraits as large scale prints in a beautiful public space like Cork Airport,” Jörg said.

“In a world of digital perfection, we in the advertising business spend a lot of time manipulating images and distorting reality to create ‘flawless’ subjects. I wanted my portraits to be natural, spontaneous and pure. By using a grey backdrop I aimed to bring out the beauty of red hair and freckles, which for so long were considered to be a flaw.

“It has been a great experience to meet so many proud redheads, hear their stories and receive so many positive messages.”

Irish Redhead Convention organiser Joleen Cronin said that while there is great diversity among redheads, there is an amazingly strong sense of community.

“This project captures the essence of this concept so beautifully and viewers will be enthralled by the details in the differences and the personalities that shine through in each portrait. After all, every ginger tells a story,” she said.

Cork Airport spokesman Kevin Cullinane said that the images embody Irish culture and our people in a unique way. The King and Queen of the Redheads, Alan Reidy and Grainne Keena, who were crowed last August, will open the exhibition on March 10.

To sign up for Foxy Float, visit www.redheadconvention.ie.

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