Ronan kicks off portraits initiative




He’s kicked a record number of penalty kicks, drop kicks and conversions over the bar. But Irish rugby legend Ronan O’Gara, 36, hit the side of a bar yesterday as a very special photographic exhibition was unveiled across Cork City.

Ireland’s most-capped player and the all-time highest points scorer for both Munster and Ireland had a wry smile as a giant portrait of him was unfurled on the front wall of the Sextant pub on Albert Quay as part of the Faces of Cork exhibition.

It is one of 10 giant portraits that will be installed on landmark city buildings for display as part of a major fundraising initiative for the Haiti house-building charity, Haven, and Marymount Hospice.

The exhibition also features 60 smaller images of people living in Cork City and county, from all walks of life and of all ages, which will be displayed at Cork Airport.

The owners of the 10 landmark buildings have made donations to the charities.

O’Gara said it was an easy decision for him to lend his support to the initiative. “It’s certainly different to see the portrait so big in real life. And it’s easier given that I’m leaving the city for a few years,” he quipped. “But it’s for a great cause and I was delighted to lend a hand. And it was a bit of fun doing it. It was interesting watching Simon Zebo performing for the camera. I was more poker face.”

O’Gara had just stepped off a plane after a series of intense meetings with Racing Metro officials in Paris, ahead of taking up his coaching position with the club on July 1.

“It was a whirlwind 36 hours. It was difficult at times; 10 hours of intense meetings in French. I pretended I knew everything they said. But it’s the only way it can be done. It’s a great opportunity, they’re a great team, with great facilities. It’s something that will really challenge me.”

The exhibition is the brainchild of top aerial photographer, Dennis Horgan, who called on his friends to help.

Leading photographers, David Cantwell, John Daly, Evening Echo photographer Eddie O’Hare, John Roche and Michael Sheehan donated their time. Among the celebrities they shot were David Puttnam, Clodagh McKenna, Bill O’Herlihy, Sean Óg Ó hAilpín, Cara O’Sullivan, George Hook, Joe McCarthy, and recent freemen of Cork, Michael Twomey and Frank Duggan.

The exhibition is supported by Cork City Council and Cork Airport for The Gathering.

*People can donate to the charities via text to 50300.

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