Jamie McCook (The Indian) in print!

A PICTURE of one of North Antrim's most famous characters has been put on public display in his favourite drinking spot.

Jamie McCook, better known as 'The Indian' was at the Carrick-a-Rede in Ballintoy last week to view the picture taken by award-winning photographer, Julian Behal, both pictured right.

The image of Jamie was captured last Easter inside a pigeon coop at his home in Armoy and sees him tousle-haired, sparring topless and with a pigeon taking flight to his right.

It is a stunning picture which has already been voted amongst the top one hundred press photographs in Britian and has been featured in a number of magazines. Next month it is to be entered into the portrait category of Press Photographers Association of Ireland's annual competition where it is widely tipped to impress the judges.

Julian, who is on the staff of the Press Association in Dublin, first encountered Jamie when he was watching 'A Dander with Drennan' on television.

Willie Drennan's Ulster Scots-based programme focused on well-known characters and places throughout North Antrim and in one piece, he did an interview with Jamie McCook whose legendary reputation as a hard man is known the length and breadth of the country and beyond.

Julian immediately spotted the potential of Jamie in photographic terms and contacted his soon-to-be father-in-law, Maurice McHenry, the former principal of Our Lady of Lourdes in Ballymoney, to see if he could arrange a photo shoot.

With the help of his Ballintoy neighbour, George Jamison, Jamie was contacted and he readily agreed.

Julian admits that from his first encounter with Jamie he was struck by his presence.

"I knew he would be a very good subject and all along I was trying to bring out something of the man in my pictures.

"When I was told he was interested in pigeons I thought it would be good to go into the coop to generate a different atmosphere and setting. I asked him to remove his top clothes and shadow box. There was a cluster of pigeons in a corner who were reluctant to take part, and at that point, I got Maurice to shoo the birds one of which rose perfectly so that I could get the picture I wanted," Julian said.

The picture has now been placed on the wall of the public bar in the Carrick-a-Rede and will soon be accompanied by some background information not only about Jamie but also about the McCook clan in general, many of whom went off to America where they became known as 'The Fighting McCooks.'

Those in the Carrick-a-Rede on the night agreed that it was a fitting tribute to a man who at 81 years of age shows little sign of slowing down and who, by all accounts, can still look after himself.

George Jamison certainly thinks so and when posing for a picture, a playfully raised fist brought a sharp reminder of the time when he was on the receiving end of a stiff thump on the jaw from Jamie - an incident long forgotten since the two are now firm friends.

Jamie's influence was also extended to the American South courtesy of Paddy McShane, who introduced him to a Mississippi couple, Bob and Lassley Hanson, who came for a holiday some years ago and liked the area so much that they now spend much of their time in Ballintoy.

Maurice McHenry believes the picture is a fitting tribute to someone who has become part of folklore in North Antrim and beyond.

"It helps cement his place in folklore and will prove a talking point not only for locals, but for the many tourists who come here in the summer," Maurice said.