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Redheads festival gingerly hoping Harry will attend

A redheads festival is hoping to attract some blue blood to this year's event.

The Irish Redhead Convention in Crosshaven, Co Cork, has singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran at the top of its dream guest list, but others include Britain's Price Harry, actor Damian Lewis, actress Emma Stone and Ginger Spice Geri Halliwell.

The event aims to celebrate everything about having red hair - the world's rarest colour - and to combat the teasing most redheads have to endure.

Organiser Joleen Cronin, who founded the festival five years ago for fun, said she has been taken aback by how it has caught the public imagination.

She and her brother Dennis, who are both redheads, launched the festival simply to mark their birthday.

"The joke was that we'd have a birthday bash and only invite people with red hair. It kind of spiralled out of that," said Joleen.

The siblings, whose family run Cronin's Bar in the seaside village, were amazed at the response their idea generated nationwide.

This year, Joleen even decided to formally invite Prince Harry, though locals admitted that his grandmother's 2011 visit to Cork was probably the closest they would ever get to royalty.

This year's festival runs until tomorrow and is expected to be attended by more than 500 true redheads and around 4,000 foxy wannabes.

Last year's event marked the launch of a special study that found Scotland has more red-haired people than Ireland.

The genetic study of the so-called ginger gene has shown that there are now even more people carrying redhead DNA in Wales than in some parts of Ireland.

Scotland has an overall rate of redheaded DNA of 36.5pc, Ireland has 34.7pc and Wales surprised the experts by recording 38pc.

Some of the world's most famous historical figures were redheads including Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, Oliver Cromwell, Elizabeth I, General Dwight Eisenhower, George Washington and even - according to legend - the Prophet Muhammad.

Festival-goers from more than a dozen countries are expected to descend on Crosshaven.