The town of Cong is located in Mayo County, Ireland. The family of director John Ford came from neighboring Galway, and he had wanted to film his classic movie, The Quiet Man, there. Galway, however, was unable to house cast and crew, but Cong–thanks to Ashford Castle–was, so the decision was made for the latter. Ford was still pretty close to home, though. The bridge over the Cong River tells that story.
The plaques in “The Quiet Man” Heritage Cottage and Cong Archaeological and Historical Interpretive Centre give a comprehensive portrait of one of the best-loved films of all time. (Words in this post in italics are taken from those plaques, with punctuation replicated as it exists on them.)
The aim of this interpretative centre is to recreate the modern story of “The Quiet Man” film and therefore the ground floor of this cottage is an exact replica of “The Quiet Man” Cottage namely White O’Mornin. The film was shot on location here in Cong and in Connemara during the Summer of 1951. The filming in Ireland lasted six weeks, while the interior scenes were shot on set in America. The film itself is set in the Ireland of the 1920’s.
The original story was written by Maurice Walsh and it tells of an Irish born American boxer Séan Thornton (John Wayne) who returns to his home village of Innisfree in search of the quiet life after accidentally killing an opponent in the ring. Séan buys back the Thornton cottage – “White O’Mornin” much to the annoyance of the neighboring Squire Red Will Danaher and then he immediately falls in love with the Squires red haired sister Mary Kate. With the drunken Michaeleen Óg Flynn as matchmaker and with Squire Danaher reluctant to allow the courtship to go ahead Séan has to battle against the odds to get the hand of the girl he loves.
While some of the items in the exhibit were actually used in the film–like the silver tea set above and the hat on the windowsill–others were not.
The model beside the dressing table shows a replica of the clothes Mary Kate wore in the film. The shawl is a Galway shawl and over 200 years old. It is one of the only shawls left in the country the same colour brown that Maureen O’Hara wore in the film…The green dress hanging up on the wall is an exact replica of the one worn by Mary Kate in the courting scene.
The large four poster bed is an exact replica of the one that was carried across the stream to the cottage by Sean Thornton and the driver of the trap commented, “That’s a fine big bed you have there Mr. Thornton,” while Feeny said, “Ah, a man would have to be a sprinter to catch his wife in a bed like that.”
For the purposes of the film, Cong became the town of Innisfree. The name came from the most famous song written by Dick Farrelly (1916-1990) on a trip from Kells to Dublin. When Ford heard Bing Crosby’s recording of “The Isle of Innisfree” he knew he had to use it as the theme music for his film.
Beside the news clippings of Farrelly below is, from the film, “The Dying Man’s House.” Ryan’s hotel houses the bar John Wayne visited at night during filming. Ford would worry that he would get into an altercation, but The Duke behaved as a gentleman and was ready on the set as required.
A quiet street in the town of The Quiet Man.