Where Are All of Ireland’s Redheads?

The author in Northern Ireland
The author in Northern Ireland

What redhead hasn’t, at some point in his or her life, wanted to visit Ireland? I mean, after all, we do get asked on a regular basis whether or not we are Irish. (In addition to the myriad of other questions such as “is it natural?” and “do you have a temper to match?” and “can I kiss you?” Answer: that would be yes and yes and no.)

So why not visit the famed land of the ubiquitous ginger? The one place on earth where we can blend in and not stand out in a crowd, riiiiight?


I went to Ireland in the spring of 2013 with the expectant ambition of seeing many of my fellow redheads frolicking about their natural habitat of green, sheep-dotted hills and gloomy, gray skies. Well, I am not sure who perpetuated that stereotype but unfortunately it’s just plain not true. At least in my experience it wasn’t true.

My first day in Dublin I didn’t see a single redhead. What?  Where was I? The second day it was the same thing. Ireland’s not a big place, and we fairly successfully covered most of the island in our one week there, but where were all the redheads I’d heard about? I mean, we had more redheads at my small graduate school in Wisconsin, of all places, than I had seen in the whole of Ireland. It was genuinely puzzling and, to be honest, a downright disappointment. For all these years I had imagined Ireland as a place chock-full of my fellow pheomelanin- blessed peers and here I couldn’t find a single one! Well, except for when I looked at myself in the mirror but I hardly counted since I’m not even of Irish descent. My heritage is Scottish.

I finally asked an Irish shopkeeper where all of the redheads were hiding and with a twinkle in his eye he smiled wryly and said, “they only come out on the weekends.” Okay then, I would wait until the weekend. It’s not like I was going anywhere anyway.

ireland 481
Northern Ireland’s coast is stunningly dramatic.

Sure enough, when Saturday rolled around, we did finally see a few redheads. Still not a lot, and certainly not as many as I had expected, but we did see some. Although one of them was certainly not a natural redhead, and let’s be honest, natural redheads know the difference and we aren’t too keen on impostors, so that one didn’t really count. (Sorry, but it’s true – we redheads are the smallest minority out there and we kind of like the exclusiveness of our clan. You might be able to dye your hair and become a brunette or a blonde, but redheadedness is not just a hair color, it’s an identity. I digress.)
It did get me to thinking though….were those redheads just tourists like I was? Or does the stunningly gorgeous and hauntingly mysterious Ireland really keep their redheads locked up until the weekend? Perhaps they know too much? I guess I’ll never know. But one thing is for certain, redheads or not, Ireland is a must-see destination in its own right. The rolling green hills and the clean, crisp air alone make it worth a visit. All of the castles and old churches are just an added bonus.

Have you been to Ireland and or Northern Ireland? Did you see lots of natural redheads? Tell me where you saw them!

Sheep, water, and green hills are ubiquitous in Ireland.
Sheep, water, and green hills are ubiquitous in Ireland.