Why Redhead festival found it hard to stay in the black

December 13th, 2016 11:55 AM

By Siobhan Cronin

The 2016 King and Queen of the Redheads in Crosshaven were Andy O'Neill and Emma Ni Chearuil. The festival has been cancelled for 2017 due to funding and sponsorship issues. (Photo: Daragh Mc Sweeney/Provision)

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THE hugely popular Irish Redhead Convention has been cancelled for next year, due to the lack of public funding and difficulty securing a main sponsor.

The festival has attracted national and international interest to Crosshaven with its quirky take on all things ginger.

It was established by local woman and redhead Joleen Cronin and her red-headed brother Denis in 2010 initially as a ‘friendly joke’ to bring business to the town.

But within a short space of time it had garnered huge attention, and the title of King and Queen of the Redheads, crowned at the festival each year, was a coveted one.

It also became a great way to promote the Irish Cancer Society’s SunSmart campaign to raise awareness of Irish skin’s vulnerability to sun exposure.

‘We launched the convention to bring a community of redheads together for an unforgettable experience, to create exciting programme of redhead-themed events, promote Crosshaven and Cork and stimulate economic activity, vitality and community pride in our region, while also raising awareness for the work of the Irish Cancer Society and the SunSmart campaign,’ said Joleen last week.

But as the festival grew, so did the challenges, and costs. 

Joleen said the lack of State support meant some challenges couldn’t be met.

‘With little public funding and the lack of a main sponsor, ticket sales and the sponsorship and support of small local businesses have not been enough to cover the costs,’ she said. ‘We need to take stock and take a year out to try to resolve the issues so that we can once again the deliver the kind of festival that you are used to and deserve.’

But she said the festival had a strong following: ‘To say we achieved this together is an understatement. The Irish Redhead Convention has become one of the best known little festivals in Ireland and the world, attracting global media attention and visiting redheads from all corners of the planet. We created more than just a festival; we created a family, lifelong friendships, a support network and years of wonderful memories.’

For it’s not all bad news. There will still be an ‘informal’ gathering in her family’s Cronin’s pub on Saturday August 19th ‘for any redheads who may come to the area. There will be music, red lemonade and ginger beer and birthday cake for Denis,’ she said. 

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