| Treasures of Ireland:
The Quiet Man
Story and photos by Tom Weber
between a host of organized activities, mouthwatering feasts and evening
turndown service, I somehow manage to "escape" from Ashford
Castle for a bit to go in search of the man who singlehandedly
placed Ireland on his back and carried it to the top of just about every
"must-see" tourist destination list.
During a prolific career that spanned nearly
60 years, the late John Ford, the brilliant Irish-American film director
who helmed 137 features, brought one of his projects "home"
to Ireland for location shooting: The
A nostalgic tribute to Ford's Irish ancestry,
the 1952 film is a beautifully shot Technicolor presentation deserving
of its Academy Award for Best Cinematography, and which also did much
to promote tourism to the Emerald Isle that continues to this very day.
Hey, I'm here, aren't I?
Based on a short story by Maurice Walsh,
an Irish novelist, The Quiet Man, one of Ford's best-known works
and the one that garnered him his fourth Best Director Oscar, is an
epic romantic comedy set in the 1920s that tells the story of Sean "Trooper"
Thornton (John Wayne), a retired, Irish-born, American prizefighter
from Pittsburgh, PA who travels back to Ireland to reclaim his family's
farm in fictional Innisfree.
With the deed to the property barely in
his grip, Sean quickly falls in love with the fiery Mary Kate Danaher
(Maureen O'Hara), but has to square off against her brother, Squire
Will (Victor McLaglen), in a monumental donnybrook, to finally win her
Cue the music: Dum-ta. Dum-ta. Dum-ta.
One of my all-time fave flicks, I can't
very well visit Ireland without paying my respects to The Quiet Man
and the genius of Ford. So, here I am in the middle of Cong aka
The Quiet Man village in Co. Mayo, one of the stops on
Vacations' (Insight) Treasures of Ireland journey, where
the lion's share of the 42 exterior scenes shown in the movie are located.
Armed with a detailed map from The Quiet
Man Museum & Gift Shop and several cameras draped around my
neck, I transform myself into one of what the locals call The Quiet
Man "crazies" the thousands of tourists who invade
their fair village every year and follow in the footsteps of
the movie's stars, extras and film crew, reliving the scenes in and
around Cong and framing a few shots of my own.
|Cong, like all the other stops on the
Treasures of Ireland journey, is not short on beautiful scenery
and landscapes, which, if you screen the classic movie, appear to
take on a character all their own within the film. From Cong Abbey,
to Pat Cohan's pub ("A glass of Guinness and a toastie, please!"),
to the Dying Man's cottage, to the River Cong and its picturesque
bridge; they all played their parts equally well in the great romance.
Why, I even have an up close-and-personal
encounter with Mr. and Mrs. Quiet Man themselves.
The village of Cong, the real-life Innisfree,
has built and painstakingly furnished an exact replica of the White
O' Mornin' cottage, just like the one seen through John Ford's lens.
All the furnishings, artifacts and costumes are accurate reproductions.
The best part of my "location shooting"
is taking the footbridge across the river for a leisurely stroll through
the woods leading back to the grounds of Ashford Castle, Insights' five-star
luxury digs while in Cong, and where John Ford and company stayed and
used the sprawling estate as the backdrop for many of the feature's
pastoral and lakeside scenes.
|Now fully restored from top to bottom,
Ashford Castle, the historic country estate, set amid 350 acres
of well-manicured greenery, gardens and rustic paths and trails,
screens for its guests stellar, full-length classic movies daily
in its new, velvet armchair-style seating.
If you'll fill up a couple of boxes with
piping-hot popcorn, I'll grab us two seats down front. But, hurry. They're
about to dim the lights and start The Quiet Man.
Cue the music: Dum-ta. Dum-ta. Dum-ta.
For complete information on Insight's 100+
premium and luxury-escorted journeys around Europe, including the Treasures
of Ireland itinerary where Sean and Mary Kate come alive at Ashford
Castle, including a five-star luxury stay at Ashford, just click HERE,
or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.
If you'll allow me just a few minutes to
find my leather glove, I'll meet you at Ashford's School of Falconry
where I've got a date with a high-flying gal named Lima.
Ashford Castle; Galway
Cliffs of Moher; Remembering
the Great Famine; Along
the Banks of the River Shannon