This St Patrick’s Day, award-winning filmmaker and photographer Ross O’Callaghan is launching a search for Paddy Irishmen from Wicklow, around the country and abroad!
Ross is photographing men named Paddy, Pat and Patrick from all walks of life for a stunning collection of portraits that capture what it’s like to be Irish and male in contemporary Ireland. The aim is to challenge the stereotype of a ‘Paddy Irishman’ and showcase the diversity of Ireland and the Irish male at an Exhibition of Paddy Portraits in New York on St Patrick’s Day 2022.”
Ross, or ‘Rosco’, who is best known as Hector’s right-hand man behind the lens and who worked with U2 in his early career, has filmed in over one hundred countries, on all continents, making commercials, documentaries, sports, reality and lifestyle programming for RTE, TG4, BBC, UTV, Channel 4, NBC, SKY, HBO and MTV, amassing many awards along the way. On his travels, Ross says he has lost count of the times that he’s been called Paddy, which he feels is something many Irish men will relate to, and this provided some of the inspiration behind his project.
Ross is now recruiting Paddies interested in getting involved. “This is a study of Irish men called Paddy from all walks of life through the medium of portrait photography. I want to tell the story of Ireland’s oldest and youngest Paddy, of Paddy the farmer, the celebrity, the binman, the Paddy from abroad who has settled in Ireland or who has an ethnic heritage and identity. I want Paddy the activist as well as Paddy in prison, the traveller, the diplomat, the local legend and – if we can find him – Paddy the Drag Queen. It could also be Paddy Irish Man who’s now Paddy Scotsman – someone born in Ireland who is now living abroad.”
Well known Paddy Irishmen already signed up for the project include gay and disability activist Paddy Smyth; Filmmaker of I Went Down, Man About Dog and Rosie Paddy Breathnach; award winning architect and Home of the Year TV personality Paddy Bradley; publican, Limerick electronica musician Paddy Mulcahy as well as Paddy Kehoe the veteran racehorse owner still best remembered for being one of the public faces of the storied 1992 syndicate that won the Lotto by buying 80% of the tickets in an controversial stand-off with The National Lottery organisation.
Commenting on his involvement, Paddy Smyth, an Irish activist with cerebral palsy who won the second series of The Circle on Channel 4, said, “When you hear the word Paddy abroad you don’t think of an Irish disability activist who’s gay, so I love Ross’s vision for this project. I’m Paddy many things, and modern Ireland is diverse. The word Paddy and Irish men in general abroad have a certain stereotype… and it’s about time someone challenged that.”
Explaining the Paddy Irishman project further, Ross said, “The collection will be a far-reaching, affectionate and curious look at the depth and breadth of Irish male experiences. I want to capture Paddy who remembers the Second World War, a time in Ireland before secondary school was standard, to worldwide tech stars like Stripe billionaire Paddy Collison or Web Summit’s Paddy Cosgrave. I would love to photograph someone like Paddy Barnes and try to capture the resilience of what it takes to become an Olympian but it’s very important to me that this is not just a project about the well-known. This is about real men called Paddy, regular Paddies.
“The Exhibition will look at how much has changed and what values have stayed the same through personal stories and lived history in several generations that tell the true story of Ireland – and not the stereotype. It will be the first study of its kind.”
The formal and stylised portraits will be taken in an environment that captures something of Paddy’s life story with quirky or surprising detail, and accompanying short interview pieces will give an insight in the participant’s own words.
Speaking about his motivations behind the project, Ross said life has been busy but it’s time now to express his own creativity. “The Covid pandemic has given me the time and the perspective to focus on my personal passion for art photography and portraits.
“I’m hoping this project will capture a moment in time, challenge the stereotype that there is any such thing as a typical ‘Paddy Irishman’ and help people to learn a little more about the changes in Irish life over the years through the varied stories of our Paddies.”
So, how do you apply? Anyone named Paddy, Pat or Patrick, Padraig, Padraic, or any other variant of the name Patrick interested in getting involved are invited to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by tagging @PaddyIrishManProject on Instagram. A few lines of introduction with a photo or video of yourself, if you are inclined, are enough to express your interest and Ross and his team will be in touch.
Paddy Irishman is a fine art project by Ross O’Callaghan, in partnership with creative agency The Brill Building. For more see PaddyIrishManProject.com