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Donegal beard champ ready to defend his crown

Dan Meehan is getting ready to out-beard the competition at this year's Donegal beard contest, scheduled for St. Patty's Day at Basil & Wick's in North Creek. Meehan is the reigning champion.

Dan Meehan is getting ready to out-beard the competition at this year's Donegal beard contest, scheduled for St. Patty's Day at Basil & Wick's in North Creek. Meehan is the reigning champion. Photo by John Grybos.

The top contender from the 2011 Donegal Beard Contest isn't going to let his hair-won trophy slip away this Saint Patty's Day.

Dan Meehan, reigning chin-curtain champ, is currently working as a pressman at Denpubs in downtown Elizabethtown. Denpubs is a publisher of local weeklies in the North Country, including the News Enterprise.

With his cheeks already dark with lush growth following his New Year’s Day preparatory shave for the contest, Meehan has an obvious talent for beardy pursuits.

“I don't know if it's a gift or a curse,” he said of his fast-growing facial hair.

Meehan’s been able to grow a full beard since he was about 15, he said. With a name like Meehan, his Irish ancestry is without question. But he said he also has forbears from Germany and the Ukraine, wintry landscapes where hairy-faced men were better prepared for the weather than wispy-whiskered peers. This potent genetic combination makes his five o'clock shadow show by quarter-to-three.

He’s experimented with different facial hair styles, but said, “I'm not too fond on a mustache,” which makes the contest beard ideal to his tastes. In getting ready for the competition, though, he had to deal with some funny looks and questions from co-workers on why he looked like a stereotypical Amish man.

The chin-curtain beard, also called a Donegal, is cultivated along the jaw line and completely covers the chin but not the lip. It’s also knows as a Lincoln, for the iconic president who, legend says, grew it in response to an 11-year-old girl’s fan letter suggesting his ugly face could use some obfuscating.

Meehan said a historically accurate Donegal is a good start, but if you really want to be noticed by the judges you need get into the spirit of the day.

“If you just come with the beard and you're not dressed up, that's plain,” he said. “Do the full get-up and get into it.”

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