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The Quiet Man loudly celebrated

The Quiet Man Country takes centre stage in the Old West again

Festival commemorate 60 year anniversary of famous film

Michael Commins

AFFICIONADOS of The Quiet Man film will be flocking to Cong this weekend for the major celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the making of Ireland’s most iconic movie. The village will be thronged with visitors on Friday evening when Maureen O’Hara will open the weekend festival at a special ceremony at 7pm beside the Celtic Cross.
Maureen has retained a great fondness for Cong and Ashford Castle over the years and is a regular visitor to the area. It will also be an emotional evening for Marissa Wayne, daughter of one of cinema’s most celebrated actors, John Wayne, who will be in Cong for the festivities.
Tommy Fleming will sing The Isle of Inishfree live on stage as a special tribute to Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne and all associated with the making of the classic film. Local musicians and singers, including Stephen Murphy, Martin Noone, Annette Griffin,  Fionnuala Deacy, Roisin Seoighe, Chloe Feeney, Brendan O’Byrne and Marie Butterly will entertain the crowd in the build-up to the big ceremony on Friday evening.

And 60 years on there are still quite a few locals who recall with fond affection the summer of 1951 when John Ford brought his famous cast to Cong and Ashford Castle. John Joe Mullen from the village brought Maureen her breakfast each morning in the Castle.
Among the surviving members of the local community who featured as extras in the scenes were Martin Noone, John Luskin, Padraig Dowd, Mary McGuire, Jack Murphy, Baby Farragher and Judy Coen. Maureen O’Hara will have a personal meeting with Judy over the weekend.
Former Eurovision winner Dana will also be there while there while Daniel O’Donnell and some other well known entertainers may also be in Cong for the celebrations. Television and radio crews from around the country and the USA are also expected to visit ‘The Quiet Man Country’ this weekend.
Gerry Collins from the festival committee says they are inundated with calls and enquiries about the weekend.
“The festival is generating huge interest and it is wonderful to have Maureen O’Hara and Marissa Wayne as our special guests. They will meet as many people as possible during their time with us. Cong and Ashford Castle will not be found wanting when it comes to the cead mile failte this weekend. I want to pay a special tribute to John and Gerry Brown, brothers of Dana, who have put so much work into promoting this venture and getting everything in place. Together with our local committee, it has been one great promotion over the last few weeks.”

The movie is based on the book Green Rushes by Maurice Walsh from Kerry and the festival committee are also hosting a special reflection on the work of the author whose novel inspired  The Quiet Man. Also remembered in a special way will be the movie director John Ford who commands such a revered place in the history of Hollywood.
Members of the Thornton Clan have been invited to Cong for the weekend. John Wayne played the part of Sean Thornton in the film and Saturday and Sunday have been designated as Thornton Family Days in the village.
On Saturday August 27, The Quiet Man Tour Guide, Gerry Collins and his wife Margaret will accompany Maureen O’Hara and Marissa Wayne in a limousine on a reminiscing tour of some of the film locations. Afternoon entertainment on the gig rig in the village will be provided by Matt Cunningham and his band (4pm to 6pm) and Matt and Orlaith Keane and Colm Naughton (7pm to 9pm), followed by Paddy the Punk.

Demand for places on the Isle of Inishfree Ferry trips on Lough Corrib are expected to be at a peak all over the weekend and Patrick Luskin, together with John O’Brien and Ray McHugh, are looking forward to welcoming many visitors on board for what are truly memorable and magical trips on the vast lake dotted with islands.
Stephen Murphy, Martin Noone and Gerry Collins from the committee were guests on the Sunday night  Late Show on Mid West Radio at the weekend. Stephen rendered a lovely version of the Maurice Soye composition, The Quiet Man from Cong, while Stephen sang The Isle of Inishfree, a song composed by Dick Farrell from Meath whose wife was Ann Lowry from Headford. (Members of the Farrelly family will also be in Cong this weekend).
Mike Ward from the Save The Quiet Man Cottage group tells us that RTE Radio will broadcast a special documentary celebrating 60 years of The Quiet Man movie  on Radio One on Sunday morning, August 28 at 8.30am. It will be presented by John Bowman and will feature voices from the radio archives. This programme will also be available to listen to on podcast after the broadcast.