- By Niall McCracken
- BBC News IS
A photographic exhibition is shown in New York that captures the stories of people named Paddy, Pat, Patrick and Padraig.
The portraits of 50 Irish men are displayed outside Grand Central Station as part of the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
Dublin-based filmmaker Ross O’Callaghan is behind the project that has been in the works for years.
One of his main goals is to counter common Irish stereotypes.
Last week, the long-standing American comedy show Saturday Night Live drew criticism ahead of the Oscars for a skit featuring impressions from Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson.
It contained jokes about the drinking of Irish people and the Irish accent was portrayed as incomprehensible.
Of his exhibition, Mr O’Callaghan said: “I wanted to tell the true story of the Irish male experience in contemporary Ireland.
“Through personal stories and lived history from different generations of Paddy’s, looking at how much has changed and the values have stayed the same.”
‘It makes me humble’
A large-scale immersive experience of the portraits was launched on Broadway this week ahead of the exhibition opening.
Examples of the audiovisual installation can also be seen on a giant digital billboard in Times Square.
The 50 portraits are now open to the public outside Grand Central Station, in Pershing Square.
Slaughtneil-based architect Paddy Bradley is one of the key players and he was the inspiration for the project.
He said when the artist first told him about the idea “he talked about the idea of different Paddies who have all done interesting things”.
“I am humbled that the idea came from my story,” he continued.
“For me to say ‘I’m a Paddy from Ireland’ I think it’s one of the best things you can say,” he added.
“We are friendly people, but we all strive to better ourselves.”
‘I’m Peak Paddy’
The completed series of portraits features several people from Northern Ireland, including Olympic boxer Paddy Barnes.
County Down comedian and TV presenter Patrick Kielty said it was a natural fit for him.
“When I think about it, I could probably say I’m the best Paddy,” he said.
“My name was Patrick, I went to school at St Patrick’s Grammar in Downpatrick and it was another Paddy – Pat O’Hare, my teacher – who led me to perform.”
Paddy Smyth is an Irish activist with cerebral palsy.
Commenting on his involvement, he said: “When you hear the word Paddy abroad you don’t think of an Irish disability activist who is gay, so I like Ross’s vision for this project.
“I am Paddy in many things, and modern Ireland is diverse.”
The exhibition will also be on display at the New York Irish Center in Queens from April 12-19 to coincide with the center’s events commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.