Saturday 17 March 2018

The Leisure List: Cork-Eyed by Dermot Seymour

What Lies Beneath

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them." So says Shakespeare.

Of those three categories, Roy Keane, from the Rebel County, belongs to the most interesting, middle category. But there's nothing middling about Mr Keane. He has achieved greatness. And the nation hopes that he is about to – again.

There's high drama as Roy Keane returns to the pitch as the Irish team's assistant manager. But he's no sidekick. He is Mr Controversy. Mr Charisma. Mr Buzz. Mr Unpredictable. Mr Box Office. Mr Bad Bad Cop.

People who have never set foot in Saipan will always associate that far-away place with Keane's defiant anger.

Or when Jack Charlton berated a 19-year-old Keane for being 20 minutes late for a team bus, Keane replied: "I didn't ask you to wait, did I?" Was he right? Men and women are intrigued.

He's 42 now, a husband, a dad to five children, a dog-lover, a proud Northsider [Mayfield, Cork], a lion [he's a Leo] and his unpredictable, magnetic presence will help fill stadiums.

He's made headlines before; he'll make them again. And the money? This new deal means Keane trousers something like €2,000 per day. Yerra, he's worth it. What price a feel-good factor, a buzz that lifts a nation?

Dermot Seymour's brilliant portrait of Roy Keane is called Cork-Eyed. The tiny pupils, the low eyebrows, the day-old shadow, the clean thin line above the lips are riveting. The chiselled features, the intent, determined expression, the rugged look are arresting and the eyes have it. If the eyes are windows to the soul, well, a glance will tell you that this soul is driven, focused. It means business.

Seymour's work has a powerful political dimension. His portraits of Brian Cowen, Mary Harney, Ian Paisley and Pat Rabbitte are forceful, not flattering. When Rabbitte viewed his portrait he was "gobsmacked. I look as if I've been cleaning the chimney, very like an, er... bulldog".

The story goes that Cork-Eyed was bought by a Cork restaurateur.

Is it hanging in his restaurant? If it is, it could certainly distract you from your prawn sandwiches. It's such a corker.

Sunday Independent

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