The photographic art project ‘Paddy Irishman’ showcases the diversity of Irish male experience and this year seeks LGBTQIA and newborn "Paddy Irishmen."
On St. Patrick’s Day 2021, a unique new photography project was launched across Ireland and abroad. It called for the public to get involved at a level beyond a typical art project, asking Irish men named Paddy, Pat, Pa, or Patrick to get in touch and share their stories.
The ongoing project aims to showcase the diversity of the Irish male and challenge the stereotype of the ‘Irish Paddy’ through a stunning collection of portrait photographs capturing what it’s like to be Irish and male in contemporary Ireland.
View this post on Instagram
Originally planned to open at an exhibition of ‘Paddy Portraits’ in New York City on St. Patrick’s Day, the installation has been pushed back until 2023, due to circumstances related to Covid over the last year.
However, this St Patrick’s Day, award-winning filmmaker and photographer Ross O’Callaghan returns with the stories and portraits of some of the Paddys he has photographed so far - and he is calling for more Paddys with unique or unusual stories to get involved.
Ross, or ‘Rosco,’ who is best known as TV presenter Hector Ó hEochagáin’s right-hand man behind the lens on the TG4 travel series (and who is familiar to followers of the popular Tommy, Hector and Laurita podcast as the unseen star of many a Hector story), has filmed in over one hundred countries, on all continents, amassing a plethora of awards along the way.
Ross says he lost count of the number of times he’s been called ‘Paddy’ on his travels, and after filming with award-winning architect Patrick Bradley of Channel 4’s Grand Designs fame, Ross says he was inspired to instigate the Paddy Irishman project to challenge the stereotype of the Irish Paddy and document the experiences of the Irish male in contemporary Ireland.
He and the team behind the Paddy Irishman Project were blown away by the response to the original call out for Paddys, with more than 1,000 people making contact. Ross has now photographed more than 30 high-quality Paddy Portraits, an impressive achievement in just 12 months while navigating lockdowns and other work commitments.
He says he still can’t believe the level of response to the idea, which has now grown far beyond his expectations and he’s now looking for more interesting and unique Paddys to get involved with the project.
“The sheer scale of the initial response to the project took me totally by surprise," Ross says. "My idea was always to take a far-reaching, affectionate, and curious look at the depth and breadth of Irish male experiences.
“The completed exhibition of portraits will tell the true story of Ireland - not the stereotype – through personal stories and lived history across several generations of Paddys, looking at how much has changed and what values have stayed the same. It will be the first study of its kind, but I never expected the people of Ireland to be as excited by it as I am.
"Now that we have another year to complete the project, we know the final exhibition will be bigger and better again, reflecting the full spectrum of contemporary Irish society.”
Well-known Paddy Irishmen already photographed 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, RTE Home of the Year and Channel 4’s Grand Designs personality, Paddy Bradley; Ugandan-born traditional musician, previously of the band Moxie, Paddy Hazelton; and Olympian boxer Paddy Barnes.
View this post on Instagram
Paddys signed up to participate in 2022 include comedian and TV personality Patrick Kielty; the Lord Oxmantown Patrick Parsons, owner of Birr Castle; and miscarriages of justice survivors Paddy Hill of the Birmingham Six, and Patrick Maguire of the Maguire Seven.
This year, Ross has a specific list of Paddies he would like to reach in the months ahead.
“This is not just a study of well-known Paddys, but those from all walks of life.
"This year, I want to tell the story of Ireland’s youngest Paddy, taking his first breath of life so I’m looking for someone who knows they’re expecting a Paddy to allow me to share in and capture that miraculous moment.
“I want to find a Patricia who is now a Paddy or a Paddy who is now a Patricia because those stories exist and need to be told – and I’d like to meet more Paddys who were born outside of Ireland – who may not have been born ‘Irish’ – but who have made their life here,” said Ross.
Commenting on participating in the project, Paddy Barnes, the double bronze Olympic boxer said: “When you're traveling about the world as I have, as an amateur boxer, and people ask who you're from, you say Ireland. You take pride in telling people you're from Ireland and you're Irish.
"I love the idea of Paddy Irishman. The word Paddy and Irish men in general abroad have a certain stereotype… and it’s about time someone challenged that.”
View this post on Instagram
The Paddy Irishman portraits are taken in an environment that captures something of each Paddy’s life story, with quirky or surprising and intimate detail. They are accompanied by short interview pieces that will give an insight into each Paddy’s life story, in their own words.
To apply to the Paddy Irishman project, you can submit a bio of less than 50 words, a photo, or a 30-second video to email@example.com or tag @PaddyIrishManProject on Instagram.
Paddy Irish Man is a creative project by Ross O’Callaghan, in partnership with creative agency The Brill Building. For more, visit PaddyIrishManProject.com and follow @PaddyIrishManProject on Instagram.