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• Taking his cue from Magnum PI and Marty Whelan, Joe O’Shea is cultivating his face fuzz — but it’s all for a men’s health charity

When somebody asks you to spend an entire month cultivating a moustache, they had better have a very good reason.

Despite the best efforts of trendsetters like Willie O’Dea and Marty Whelan, face fuzz in general, and ‘taches in particular, remain an acquired taste in this country.

And it takes something like the Movember movement to persuade myself, and thousands of other Irish men, to go from clean shaven to Magnum PI (even if it is only for a month).

Movember is an annual charity event with a difference that aims to promote men’s health issues by persuading guys to cultivate cookie-dusters.

And like all great ideas, it started in a pub.

Originally devised by four drinking buddies in Melbourne, Australia, in 2003, it has become a worldwide movement of men who are proud to decorate their upper lips to promote men’s health issues.

Since 2004, the Movember Foundation charity has gone worldwide, raising millions of euro for charities including prostate cancer education and research.

The organisation has now spread to Ireland, where we have the highest mortality rate as a result of prostate cancer, per capita, in Europe.

Last night in Dublin, the first Irish Movember was launched, paving the way for thousands of Irish “Mo Bros” to sign up for some sponsored ‘tache growing this month.

The charity that will benefit is Action Prostate Cancer, an education initiative set up earlier this year by the Irish Cancer Society.

And one of the original Mo Bros, Aussie Justin Coghlan, says their aim is to raise funds and put men’s health issues at the top of the agenda.

“When we started off, we were looking at men’s health in Australia and we realised that there was very little being done to educate guys.

“Women had done a great job on issues like breast cancer. But in Australia, and we know it’s like this in the UK and Ireland, it was as if men didn’t even want to talk about their own health and there wasn’t a lot being done to change this.

‘There’s this idea that real men don’t go to the doctor and we have got to change that.”

The idea of using moustaches to publicise the issues was a moment of pub-inspiration, according to Justin (or JC as he is known to his Mo Bros).

“We were having a Sunday session in the pub and talking about what we could do and we thought: ‘Hey, why don’t you see moustaches anymore?’

“All of our dads had ‘taches and all of the sporting heroes we had when we were kids had them.

“So we decided to bring them back and maybe do something for a very good cause along the way.”

The first Movember involved just a hundred or so of the lad’s mates in their part of Melbourne.

But the movement grew exponentially and can now count on support from the likes of Mel Gibson, cricketer Ian Botham and even Kylie Minogue (one of many Mo Sistas who support their Mo Bros).

“It really caught on and it’s gone worldwide now and I think that’s because we are using a fun way to deal with some serious issues,” says JC.

Of course, while raising money and awareness is important, the really vital question here is: do the ladies love a ‘tache?

“Listen, mate, we’ve had guys from all over the world, including a lot of Irish Mo Bros, who tell us their ‘taches are chick magnets,” says JC.

‘A moustache is a real talking point, you get the girls asking why you have one and by the time you’ve explained all about Movember you’ve already been talking to her for five minutes and she thinks you’re a great guy for giving something back,” says JC.

“And even if she doesn’t like ‘taches, you can promise her it’ll be gone by the end of the month.”

Ireland’s first Movember culminates with a series of official Gala Parties, Mo-Office and Mo-Town parties where Tom Selleck and Borat look-a-likes will battle it out for their chance to be the Man of Movember.

And who knows, maybe Ireland’s first Movember can achieve the twin goals of promoting prostate cancer awareness and making Willie O’Dea a fashion hero.

In the thick of it

Us Mo Bros are now almost two weeks into our follicular adventures and some are looking a lot more hirsute than others.

You may have noticed the recent episode of RTE 1’s The Panel and the collection of ‘taches adorning the upper lips of those taking part in the charity project.

Personally speaking, I have played it safe so far by opting for a full beard that apparently makes me look like ‘Proinsias De Rossa — if he fronted a terrible Blues band’.

However, it’s now time to go all of the way and clip everything back to the bare ‘tache. Style suggestions so far have varied from Mexican bandito to Burt Reynolds circa Smokey And The Bandit (it’s funny how your so-called friends are always trying to make you look ridiculous).


But I’m hoping to play it safe with a Ned Flanders-meets-Magnum-PI cookie-duster that combines seriousness with the hint of being ready to go on a helicopter ride around Hawaii.

The full Tom Selleck will stay in place until the end of the Movember, when I plan to return to the ranks of the clean-shaven.


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