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Maureen O’Hara to open Quiet Man Festival

Maureen O’Hara will open Quiet Man Festival in idyllic Cong

Michael Commins

SIXTY years on from the shooting of the iconic film The Quiet Man in Cong, one of the stars will return to the village to preside at the official opening of a festival which will honour that momentous time in the history of the village. Maureen O’Hara will be the guest of honour throughout the weekend of August 26 and 28 and will conduct the official ceremony at the Celtic Cross in Cong at 7pm on the Friday evening. It has also just been announced that a daughter of her co-star John Wayne is coming to Cong for the celebrations.
The Quiet Man is an iconic movie that has brought numerous thousands of visitors to Ireland over the decades. It was directed by John Ford and focussed massive attention on Ireland. Ford’s love for the land of his ancestors was reflected in the magic of the movie which, to this day, is regarded as a true gem of the big screen.
Maureen, who will celebrate her 91st birthday on August 17 and who at all times promotes her Irishness and the love of her country, is thrilled to be asked back to the scene of one of her most famous triumphs. The management at Ashford Castle, around where so much of the movie was shot, will host her over the weekend. A number of television crews will be in Ashford Castle and Cong to cover the events surrounding The Quiet Man Festival.
Apart from The Quiet Man, Maureen O’Hara has also appeared in such classics as How Green Was My Valley, The Parent Trap, as Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Miracle on 34th Street, Rio Grande (also with John Wayne), The Black Swan, The Wings of Eagles, Big Jake, McLintock and many more.
Maureen has stated that The Quiet Man stands out above all her other movies. “I have often said that The Quiet Man is my personal favourite of all the pictures I have made. It is the one I am most proud of, and I tend to be very protective of it. I loved Mary Kate Danaher. I loved the hell and fire in her.
“As I readied to begin playing her, I believed that my most important scene in the picture was when Mary Kate is in the field herding the sheep and Seán Thornton sees her for the very first time. It’s a moment captured in time, and it’s love at first sight. I felt very strongly that if the audience believed it was love at first sight, then we would have lightning in a bottle. But if they didn’t, we would have just another lovely romantic comedy on our hands. The scene comes off beautifully.”
Festival committee members have joined with Ms Maureen O Hara in calling on ‘Thorntons’ everywhere to come to the Festival. John Wayne played the role of ‘Seán Thornton’ in The Quiet Man and this is also being promoted as a homecoming event for all the Thornton families around the world. Saturday, August 27, is being dedicated as Thornton Family Day in Cong.
The event is attracting major interest, especially from the American media, and Cong will certainly be back in the headlines again sixty years after John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara first set foot in the village on the borderline of Galway and Mayo.