inking feeling | 

Marty Whelan meets man who got his face tattooed on him after losing bet

“I thought that having Michael Bublé serenade me on my birthday was the pinnacle of my career, but now this tops it all”

Phil O’Kelly had the tattoo after losing a fantasy football bet

Marty meets his likeness on Phil O’Kelly’s leg

Marty meets his likeness on Phil O’Kelly’s leg

Marty and Phil O’Kelly

Eddie RowleySunday World

It was the moment that Irish broadcasting legend Marty Whelan came face to face with…his face!

The Sunday World this weekend arranged for much-loved Marty to get up close and personal with the now famous tattoo that adorns the leg of Phil O’Kelly.

It followed the revelation this week that Phil has had Marty’s facial image tattooed on to his thigh after losing a fantasy football league bet with a pal.

Phil joined us at the RTE Radio Centre in Dublin’s Donnybrook on Friday morning, where he and his tattoo were instantly the centre of attention as staff, including presenter Blathnaid Treacy, appeared from all corners to see the work of art in the flesh.

Marty meets his likeness on Phil O’Kelly’s leg

Then, fresh from his top-rated Marty in the Morning breakfast show on RTE Lyric FM, the man himself came strolling down the corridor with a big, warm smile to meet Phil in person for the first time.

They hugged and then Phil lifted his shorts to unveil the Marty masterpiece on his right leg.

“I’m sure your left leg is mortified,” jovial Marty quipped. “You’ll be looking for a Larry Gogan one on the other leg the next time. But we are now joined at the hip.”

Marty said: “I thought that having Michael Bublé serenade me on my birthday at his show in the 3Arena was the pinnacle of my career, but now this tops it all.

“It’s just such an odd thing for someone to do, but it’s a great compliment that Phil chose to put me on his leg permanently. There’s a phrase you don’t hear too often.”

He laughed again. “This is the most unusual thing that has ever happened to me, because you couldn’t possibly dream that someone would want a tattoo of me permanently on his leg.

“No matter what he does now I’m there, and technically he should be inviting me to family dos from now on.”

Marty and Phil O’Kelly

Marty told how Phil’s tattoo, which has been viewed millions of times on social media, has been a great source of amusement in his family.

“My family just couldn’t believe it,” he said. “My children, Jessica and Tom, are in their late 20s and, as you can imagine, they are on social media all the time. And the fact that this thing has now literally gone viral…it’s just unreal the amount of reaction to this.”

Phil, who is married with three daughters aged 13 to 9, admitted that they’re not impressed with their dad’s body art. “They are disgusted with me, they really are,” he laughed.

“They were going, ‘Dad, no! no! no!’ Dads are always going to be embarrassing, and for them this is just one more embarrassment in a litany of embarrassments.”

However, Phil’s wife, Kim, has seen the funny side of it.

Marty meets his likeness on Phil O’Kelly’s leg

He said: “Kim helped me to choose where to put it. She said she definitely didn’t want it on my front as she didn’t want to be looking at it every day. But she does see the funny side of it. She’s a big fan of Marty as well, we both are.”

Speaking about the wager that led to him having the tattoo, Phil explained: “It was a bet with my friend Colman Hudson over fantasy football.

“Whoever got the highest points was the winner and got to choose the tattoo for the loser. The loser got to choose where it went. He chose Marty for me. He’s a massive fan, he regards him as a legend. When he picked Marty I laughed. I thought it was funny.”

As our photographer Steve Humphries then directed Marty and Phil in various poses for fun shots with the tattoo, the radio and TV star occasionally waved to passing colleagues and declared with mock embarrassment: “Don’t ask!”

Phil, who works with Spinal Injuries Ireland, told how he’s using the publicity around the Marty tattoo to promote the work of the charity.

“We support people to adapt to life after a spinal cord injury and we’re trying to raise awareness of what we do so we can reach more people with spinal cord injuries and their families as well,” he said.

“Marty has been brilliant as without me even prompting him he said he would be happy to support Spinal Injuries Ireland in any way he can.

“Now he’s going to take part in our A Day In My Wheels on October 6, which an event to support those whose lives have been affected by a spinal cord injury.”


Today's Headlines

More Irish Showbiz

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

WatchMore Videos