Photographer Ross O'Callaghan on how his Paddy Irishman project will prove there's no such thing as the 'typical Irish Paddy'
David Roy chats to Dublin TV cameraman and photographer Ross O'Callaghan about his new Paddy Irishman project which aims to prove there's no such thing as the ‘typical Irish Paddy'
CALLING all Paddys, Patricks, Pats, Pádraigs and Pádraics: if you're Irish and share your name with our Patron Saint then you could be part of a new art photography project seeking to immortalise 'Paddy Irishmen' from all walks of life.
Award-winning TV cameraman Ross 'Rosco' O'Callaghan is currently channelling his long-time passion for still photography into an attempt to capture candid portrait pictures which tell the stories of Paddys from around the country.
They will then be compiled and curated for a Paddy Irishman exhibition to be held in New York on St Patrick's Day 2022. The exhibition hopes to capture what it's like to be Irish and male in contemporary Ireland, thereby challenging the international stereotype of 'the Irish Paddy'.
Well known Paddy Irishmen already signed up for the project include gay and disability activist Paddy Smyth, film-maker Paddy Breathnach (I Went Down, Man About Dog, Rosie), Derry architect and Grand Designs House of The Year winner Paddy Bradley, Limerick electronica musician Paddy Mulcahy and veteran racehorse owner Paddy Kehoe.
"It's something I've been thinking about for quite a while," explains Dublin-based Ross, who has filmed all over the world for multiple TV networks throughout the past 20 years but, thanks to Covid, is currently limited to shooting closer to home for his regular gig on TG4's popular international travelogue, Hector, with presenter Hector Ó hEochagáin.
"It was a few years ago on a road trip back from Derry when I initially came up with the idea, after I'd been filming Paddy Bradley for Grand Designs.
"I think I was just after coming back from another series abroad and that had got me thinking about the stereotype of 'Paddy Irishman' that we've all encountered – and how that perception was at odds with this Paddy, who was a certified architect.
"He wasn't that well-known at that stage so I thought he'd be a good start to go on a search to try and showcase all the different Paddys from all different walks of life. I've always been interested in photography and I really wanted to do something in that kind of sphere.
"I took a photo of Paddy after he'd finished his container home build just for my own personal collection – but I'll be going back up to shoot him again specifically for the exhibition."
However, it's not just 'famous' Paddys who Ross is interested in imortalising: indeed, one of his favourite shoots to date has been with his neighbour and friend Paddy Byrne, a 68-year-old retired maintenance worker from Dublin, who took the snapper back to the now derelict site of the bottling plant in Ringsend he had worked in for many years for their shoot.
"Paddy's been a friend for years but I never knew he worked in that plant," admits Ross, who is relishing the challenge of adapting his TV camera skills and instincts for the Paddy Irishman project.
"It was only when we started talking about the project that he mentioned he'd worked there for 19 years until all 380 of them lost their jobs. He'd been on the picket line against its closure in 2002 and spoke very sadly about that time – and there was a tear in his eye when I brought him back that day.
"You could feel all the memories flooding back to him, and when you look at that photograph and read the little bit about him, you can instantly see the emotion that was going on there."
If you're a Paddy, Pat or Patrick, Pádraig, Pádraic, or any other variant of the name Patrick, who's interested in getting involved with Paddy Irishman, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or tagging @PaddyIrishManProject on Instagram.
All you need are a couple of lines about yourself and a photo or video to express your interest and Ross and his team will be in touch.
"Sometimes it takes an hour or two to get the shots, sometimes it takes a day," says Ross of how a typical Paddy photoshoot unfolds.
"We'll have a conversation and, before you know it, something will come from it. All I ever need is a cup of tea and a chat to get started."
:: For more see PaddyIrishManProject.com