Rumour has it they’re about to become extinct...but the world just wouldn’t be the same without red heads. In fact, we might even still think it was flat!
A rare breed
You might have already guessed that red is the rarest of hair colours, but did you know that red hair is so rare it makes up only 2% of the world’s population? And that there have been numerous reports over the last few years claiming red hair is a dying colour, which will be wiped out by 2060…
If you’re one of the 2% reading this, though, there's no need to panic just yet! According to science, while there may be a decline in the gene for red hair, it’s not going to vanish into thin air just yet. And thank God for that, as red heads through the centuries have proved a formidable lot with their beauty, brains and brawn.
Fair haired and famous
Modern day ravishing red heads include Nicole Kidman and Marcia Cross, but did you know Cleopatra was also believed to be a natural red head? Royal red head Prince Harry serves his country well, but it's probably in his genes: His royal relative Queen Elizabeth I crushed the Spanish Armada and was perhaps the gutsiest red head of them all. Clever explorer Christopher Columbus sported a flame-haired mane too…and who knows where we’d be without him.
On the Irish end of things, Maureen O’Hara of The Quiet Man was known as the Queen of Technicolor for her red hair and green eyes. When Pirate Queen Grace O’Malley was told she was too young to sail the high seas, she cut off her long red mane in protest. And in mythology, Cu Chulainn, whose hair “twisted like the tange of a red thornbush”, battled the red-haired female warrior Queen Medb of Connacht over a prize bull during the Cattle Raid of Cooley.
Red heads worldwide
While Scotland has the highest proportion (followed by Ireland), the US has the largest population of red heads in the world, boasting between 6-18 million. A Huffington Post columnist recently hosted the world’s first ever beauty and fashion event dedicated to red heads. It was in New York in March. Missed it? Then there’s another red head related event you can catch in August in Ireland. And it's all set to be a fiesty affair...
Calling all red heads
Now in its fourth year, the annual Irish Red Head Convention is being celebrated as part of The Gathering 2013 in County Cork. Organiser (and natural red head, of course) Joleen Cronan says she and brother Denis initially came up with the idea as a joke, but has seen phenomenal interest in the event. “We celebrate everything red head. We’re distinctive because of our hair and there’s a real bond that exists between red heads. It’s all for a good cause and great fun, we don’t take the event too seriously!”
As for those scandalous rumours of the red hair gene's demise, Joleen is certainly not worried “You could even be a red head and not know it. We’ll be around for a long time to come.”
The event sees freckle-counting competitions, red head parades, ginger chef cook-offs and certificates for foxiness. There’s even a carrot tossing championship. No doubt if Queen Elizabeth I was still alive today she’d be hightailing it to that.
If you’re a red head, it makes perfect sense to join the party now (before you become extinct...)