‘The Quiet Man’ 60 years on

Promotional movie poster for The Quiet Man. (This image is used to illustrate the article on 'The Quiet Man' movie and is used for informational or educational purposes only).

‘A fine soft day in the spring, it was, when the train pulled into Castletown, three hours late, as usual, and himself got off. He didn’t have the look of an American tourist at all about him.’ This is the opening narration in the movie ‘The Quiet Man’, much of which was filmed on location near the beautiful village of Cong, Co Mayo, Ireland. John Ford’s 1952  film was a resounding success, and 60 years on its popularity continues, for it is said that every minute  of every day,someone in the world is watching ‘The Quiet Man’.

John Ford (1894–1973) was born John Feeney of parents who had emigrated from the West of Ireland in 1872. His parents passed on stories of home together with a great love for all things Irish, and so the making  of a film set in Ireland had been a pet project of Ford’s  for many years. The film’s main character Séan, played by John Wayne, explains: ”Ever since I was a kid living in a shack near the slag heaps, my mother told me about Inisfree and ‘White O’Morn’. Inisfree has become another word for heaven to me.”

The Bridge seen in the film 'The Quiet Man'. Photographed by Susan Astray, creative.commons.

The film’s representation of Ireland appealed to the diaspora and to those who longed to be home. The West of Ireland had indeed come to symbolize  all of Ireland and had become  the image of the country left behind, helped by the interest of writers in the latter years of the 19th century,such as J.M.Synge and W.B. Yeats. The dramatic landscape of the west was a backdrop in modern Irish literature and its remoteness probably led to it being seen as the part of Ireland least affected by British rule and therefore  a more ‘authentic’ Ireland. While the image of Ireland portrayed in the film became for many the epitome of romantic Ireland, for others it represented the worst of  ‘stage Irishness’ with its  Hollywood ‘Oirish’ accents.

Ashford Castle from Lough Corrib. Image by Yanshoof at wikimedia.commons

Maureen O’Hara played the role of the feisty fiery red-head, Mary Kate Danaher. Now in her 92nd year,Maureen O’Hara returned to Cong, Co.Mayo in recent weeks to mark the 60th anniversary of the beginning of filming. ‘The Quiet Man’ continues to attract huge numbers of visitors to this very special  part of Ireland. ‘The Quiet Man’ Cottage Museum in Cong has an exact replica of the interior of the famous ‘White O’ Morn’ cottage and there are many sites of interest to fans,not least of which is the beautiful Ashford Castle, and the many wild and beautiful scenic attractions of Connemara.

Further Information

The Quiet Man Movie Club

The Quiet Man Cottage Museum

Connemara Tourism

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2 Comments

Filed under Ireland, Irish Diaspora, Mayo Emigrants

2 responses to “‘The Quiet Man’ 60 years on

  1. This film was worth watching just for the beautiful Maureen O’Hara… love her voice and that stunning hair… then, of course, seeing more of your incredibly beautiful country was a bonus.

    • The scenery was lovely and it is nice to have a record of what it was like back then. I had to do a lot of searching to find a photograph that did not have modern architecture and signs of modern life (like cars and people on mobile phones!) Huge parts of Ireland remain unchanged and indeed many of the coastal scenes in the film are as they were .And Maureen O’Hara’s hair was gorgeous!

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