'Paddy Irishman' wowing New York public on St Patrick's Day
A PHOTOGRAPHY exhibition celebrating the diversity of the 'Irish Paddy' has opened to the public outside Grand Central Station in New York City.
The Paddy Irishman Photography Project is a multimedia endeavour from award-winning Irish TV cameraman Ross 'Rosco' O'Callaghan which "seeks to challenge the global stereotype of the 'Irish Paddy' and showcase the diversity of the contemporary Irish male".
Dublin-born O'Callaghan has channelled his long-time passion for still photography into capturing candid portraits which tell the stories of Paddys, Patricks, Pats, Pádraigs and Pádraics from all over Ireland.
Three years in the making, the large-scale immersive exhibits at Pershing Square Plaza in front of Grand Central Station feature 50 'Paddies' from all walks of life, including some famous names.
The exhibition, which runs until March 22 , includes comedian Patrick Kielty, Derry architect and Grand Designs House of The Year winner Paddy Bradley, world championship Irish golfer Padraig Harrington, double bronze Olympic boxer Paddy Barnes, triple All Ireland Senior Football Championship winner Patrick Cullen, director Paddy Breathnach (I Went Down, Man About Dog, Rosie, The Dry), Ugandan-born traditional musician, Paddy Hazelton, formerly of the band Moxie, Dublin make-up artist Patrick Blue, Grand National winning jockey Paddy O'Hanlon, gay and disability activist Paddy Smyth, Paddy Kehoe the veteran racehorse owner, Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six and Patrick Maguire of the Maguire Seven.
“As a camera person or an artist, you spend years trying to build a name and work for your name, then some stranger takes it away from you by calling you a different name," explains O'Callaghan.
“This project seeks to tell the true story of the Irish male experience in contemporary Ireland - not the stereotype - through personal stories and lived history across several generations of Paddies, looking at how much has changed and the values have stayed the same.”
The cameraman says he would like to keep updating the project with "new stories of Paddys doing remarkable things".
"It's an ever-evolving story, and we can keep it going if we get the support we need to fund it," he says.
Of being included among the 50 Paddys in the exhibition, Paddy Hazleton said: “I’m not your typical Irish Paddy. The places Irish music has taken me – all over the world - the people I’ve seen and friends I’ve made have stood to me. I’ve been lucky to have been blessed with a rhythmic gift, since my Mum got me involved with Irish music. I’m very proud to be a Ugandan-Paddy Irishman."
Supported by Tourism Ireland and the Irish Consulate, the not-for-profit project was launched earlier this week at Lume Studios in Tribeca. Speaking at the launch event, Dermot Fitzpatrick, Deputy Consul General of the Irish Consulate in New York said:
“Nowhere does St Patrick’s Day like New York, but sometimes we do face the stereotype of the drunken Irish, as we’ve seen recently in the media. But the Irish impact here is so much bigger than that.
"Our cultural footprint is way out of proportion to our size.This exhibition further challenges stereotypes. These portraits show a diverse, vibrant Ireland. The exhibition is ambitious, innovative and it reflects who we really are.
"Congratulations to Ross for his spectacular work."
The Paddy Irishman exhibits will also be displayed in the New York Irish Centre in Queens throughout April to coincide with the centre’s events celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.