My Weekend with The Quiet Man

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A travel feature from the Derry Journal of July 1 2011. Bernie Mullen visits Cong, where Hollywood classic The Quiet Man was filmed some 60 years ago

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  • 54 Friday, July 1, 2011

    FEATURE www.derryjournal.com

    The Quiet Man really needs nointroduction to older generationsat least - weve all watched thelegendary Irish movie since wewere knee high. But theres oneintroduction you simply cant missduring a trip to Cong and its theirrepressible Gerry Collins, B&Bowner, tour guide and all roundexpert on The Quiet Man.Last weekend we stayed at the

    excellent Michaeleens ManorB&B run by Gerry and his wifeMargaret. We arrived later thanexpected on a rain-soaked Fridaynight and were met with what feltlikeahundred thousandwelcomes.The hospitable couple who arepassionate about promoting TheQuiet Man lm location, openedthe Cong Holiday Hostel in 1984when Gerry was working as abread deliveryman and Margaretworked as a chef in nearby AshfordCastle.In 1985 a guest in the hostel asked

    if they ever showed the movie andpromised to bring a copy the nexttime he visited. This was the startof Quiet Man tourism big style.Nine years ago Gerry and

    Margaret opened the modernMichaeleens Manor across theroad from their hostel and campingsite.The B&B has whats believed to

    be the biggest collection of QuietMan photographs in the world.Built up over the last 20 years,classic black and white framedpictures of scenes from the movie,screen legends John Wayne andMaureen OHara and woodenplaques with the best lines fromthe movie adorn the walls of thethree-storey accommodation. Thelines include such classics as,Woman of the house - wheresme tae?; No patty ngers if youplease; and A man would need tobe a sprinter to catch his wife in abed like that.TheB&BandQuietManMuseum

    are believed to be the rst of theirkind dedicated to a Hollywoodclassic.Each of the 12 en-suite bedrooms

    in the Quiet Man B&B is themedon characters from the lm with aplaque above the door. We stayedin a spacious family room namedafter The Bishop in the movie,with views of the tennis court andreplica Quiet Man bridge in thegrounds of the property whichalso boasts an outdoor hot-tub,barbecue area, pitch and putt andplenty of car parking.

    AtbreakfastonSaturdaymorningwe met an American couple whowere staying in the B&B on theirhoneymoon. Raymond Ullmer andLeeza Forman fromNewJersey gotmarried two and a half years agobut postponed their trip to Congbecause of work commitments.Leeza is formerly from the

    Ukraine, and the appeal of TheQuiet Man is worldwide withtranslations of the movie inlanguages including Japanese.

    Quiet Man craziesIve seen it more than a hundred

    times and know every line in themovie, said Raymond, whichwould put him in the category offans known affectionately in thevillage as Quiet Man crazies.There were more of them on a

    CIE coach party we joined for oneof Gerry Collins fun-packed QuietMan walking tours - an experiencenot to be missed. It comes withaudience participation and plentyof laughs along the way.The coach party from

    Pennsylvania produced a fewcharacters whenGerry roped themin to re-enact clips from the moviewith one of the most famous stghts in cinematic history.A retired policeman and his wife

    stepped into the leading roles ofSean Thornton (John Wayne) andMary Kate Danagher (MaureenOHara). It was a laugh a minuteas Gerry whipped them into shapewith takes one, two and three justto get romantic clinches as near tothe original as possible!Gerrys rallying cry for us all to

    spread out and cheer like goodProtestants as per the movie, isan ice-breaker you wouldnt getaway with everywhere but heworks The Quiet Man crowd likenobodys business.But dont worry if youre a

    shrinking violet, this tour willbring you out of your shell. Youwont be forced to participate ifyoud really prefer to watch otherpeople vying for an Oscar - QuietMan crazy style!

    Exact replicaBack at The Quiet Man Museum

    at the end of the tour theres morefun to be had when costumes aredonned. The Museum is an exactreplica of the exterior of WhiteOMorn, the thatched cottage usedin the lm as Sean Thorntonsancestral home and the original

    Gerry and Margaret Collins at Michaeleens Manor B&B in Cong - named after the Matchmaker in the movie. (0107BM01)

    QuietManTHE

    Myweekendwith

    Sixty years ago the village of Cong in the west of Ireland was transformed into a Hollywood setfor the filming of the movie classic, The Quiet Man. Thousands of people from across the world- many of them from the NorthWest - travel to Cong each year to visit the film locations and soakup the atmosphere of this special place. Last weekend, the Journals BERNIE MULLEN walkedin the footsteps of stars of the movie John Wayne and Maureen OHara and was completelybowled over by The Quiet Man visitor experience.

    LEFT: John Connollyoutside Pat CohansBar (The Quiet Manpub) in Cong.

    BELOW:A detail ofthe plaque in frontof Pat Cohans Baron location in Cong.

  • 29Friday, July 1, 2011

    FEATUREwww.derryjournal.com

    VoyageofdiscoveryontheCorrib

    Castmembers on the set of TheQuietMan in Cong in 1951.Extras included John Luskin (nowaged 81), standing behind JohnWayne.(0107BM03)Photo courtesy of Patrick Luskin

    Corrib Cruises are synonymous with the not-to-be-missed tourism experience in Cong.Captain Patrick Luskin is not only an expert on

    the history of the area, his family is closely associ-ated with The Quiet Man.Patricks father John, a capenter by trade, was one

    of the extras in the lm.Now the ripe old age of 81, he was among locals

    who enjoyed a big payday back in 1951.Patrick tells how his father and friends were paid

    30 shillings a day - the equivalent of a weeks wages.Filming went on in Cong for ten weeks and theyprobably worked as extras for half that period.A sepia photo of cast members from the infamous

    ght scene with director John Ford, takes pride ofplace in the Luskin household. It shows a handsome21-year-old John standing directly behind JohnWayne.Son Patrick jokes: If anything had happened

    JohnWaynemy father would have been right besideMaureen OHara!John Luskin and his mates headed to Croke Park

    with more money than they could spend to seeMayo win the All-Ireland for the second year in arow in 1951.One of his friends bought a new tractor in Dub-

    lin and the whole village was out to see it when hebrought it back to Cong, said Patrick.The movie is very special to the people in Cong

    because every time we watch it we see our relativesin it, he says.In 1976 John Luskin founded Corrib Cruises, with

    his two sons Patrick (10) and David (4) learning theropes.Seeing his own lad - Mayo GAA fanatic James in

    the cabin - it could well be like father like son forthe next generation as well.Patrick is now at the helm while his brother David

    runs the river cruise from Oughterard.

    The daily passenger cruise sails between AshfordCastle with a stop off and guided tour of the 5th cen-tury monastic site on Inchagoill Island. Its a lovelyrelaxing voyage for all the family, with great servicefrom Patrick and his crew.On the guided tour along ancient pathways youwill see:n St Patricks Church 450ADn Church of the Saints 1180ADn The inscribed stone of Lugna which marks thegrave of St Patricks navigator 470ADn The tomb of Muirgeas O Nioc, Archbishop ofTuam 1128ADThe entire cruise takes approximately two hours

    including 30 minutes on the island. A shorter onehour tour is also available, all providing excellentviews of 365 wooded islands, the Connemara Moun-tains and Ashford Castle.Corrib Cruises is also available for private hire and

    the one hour cocktail cruise with live traditionalmu-sic is a big attraction during July and August - book-ing is advisable and youll be in very good hands.Bar and snack facilities are available on board andwhen local historian and author Patrick isnt givinghis rundown on the history of the area - pointing outthe amazing shing as well - theres music on boardto set the maritime and Quiet Man scene.Adult 20 euro - children 10 euro - Family: 2 adults

    and two children 50 euro and 5 euro for every extrachild. Tickets on board.

    For further information on Corrib Cruisescontact Patrick: 0035387 9946380www.corribcruises.cominfo@corribcruises.comFor further information on accommodation and activities visit cong-tourism.com

    Patrick Luskin, right, captain,Corrib Cruiseswith rstmate ,nephew JackWinters on board the Isle of Inisfree. (0107BM02)

    movie set in Hollywood where allof the interior shots were made.The Quiet Man is close to the

    hearts of the people of Congas many of the villagers weredrafted in as extras in the movie.They were paid 30s a day - theequivalent of a weeks wages andtheir descendants all have storiesto tell about their roles.A small dedicated band of

    people like Gerry Collins; PatrickLuskin who runs Corrib Cruises;Denis Ryan of Ryans Hotel; andJohn Connolly of Pat Cohans Bar,are passionate about promotingthis iconic Co Mayo location as atourist destination.Theyre especially keen to

    welcome new and old visitorsfrom Northern Ireland - whoalong with the Americans are thebiggest Quiet Man fanatics inthe world. Cong will be the placeto be in August for celebrationsto mark the 60th anniversary ofthe making of the lm - they areexpecting a very special guest forThe Quiet Man festival on BankHoliday weekend at the end ofAugust so start making yourarrangements now before itsbooked out.Those in the tourism business

    are pulling out the stops to keepprices down to make holidaypackages affordable in tougheconomic times.Gerry says: For those who say

    the South is dear, it has gonemuch cheaper. It is time to comeback and there is an open doorin Cong for everyone from theNorth. Even John Wayne fanscome to Cong because of the lm.This is the 60th anniversary ofthe making of the movie and nextyear is the 60th anniversary of itsrelease.I am also looking for a bus

    companywhowould be interested

    in bringing down tours fromNorthern Ireland for a weekend.We are offering two nights bedand breakfast, an evening meal, acruise on Lough Corrib, a guidedtour of the lm location andmuseum, for 99 euro per person.For all The Quiet Man

    crazies in the North - from alldenominations -whoused to comedown regularly, we want them allto come back on pilgrimage againto Quiet Man country. The biggestfollowing for The Quiet Manis not the Americans, althoughthat is massive, it is NorthernIreland.Rest assured however, its not

    Quiet Man crazy 24/7. Cong is abeautiful unspoilt village withcosy bars and coffee shops, artsand crafts shops, even a rare andantiquarian book store whichare all must sees come rain orshine.The home cooked and well

    presented meals at Ryans Hotelhave the hallmarks of ownerDenis experience as a chef atAshford Castle.Over at Pat Cohans bar, you can

    watch documentary footage aboutthe only movie in town whiledowning a pint of the black stuff.The river walks are spectacular,

    taking in the Abbey and theMonks Fishing House.No visit to Cong is complete

    without a visit to the majesticAshfordCastleandgroundswherestatesmen and women and A-listcelebrities have stayed down theyears. John Wayne and MaureenOHara had separate towers inthe castle during lming of TheQuiet Man.And where better to see the

    breathtaking scenery all aroundthis idyllic spot than on boardThe Isle of Inisfree with CorribCruises....

    MICHAELEEN MANORTwo nights B&B, one evening meal,guided tour of The Quiet Man lmlocations, Corrib cruise. 99 euro ppCong Hostel & Cong Caravan Camping- stay 4 nights, get 5th free; stay 6nights, get 7th free and free entranceto The Quiet Man Museum.Tel: 00353 94 954 6846Email: info@congbb.comWebsite: www.congbb.com

    RYANS HOTELB&B 40 euro pp during August.Tel: 0035394 9546004Website: ryanshotelcong.ie

    SPECIAL OFFERS

    TheQuietManMuseum.

    JohnWayne andMaureenOHara in a scene fromTheQuietMan.

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