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Following in the Footsteps of Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne: Discovering "The Quiet Man" in Cong, Ireland

Following in the Footsteps of Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne: Discovering the Quiet Man in Cong, Ireland | CosmosMariners.com


As someone who's a sucker for history, I'm always on the lookout for a fun, quirky, historical spot to add to our vacations. On our Ireland road trip, I discovered that one of the Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne movie locations was just a few miles from the Galway castle AirBnB we were staying in, so I decided to add it to our itinerary. 

After all, when you get the chance to wander a real life set of one of the most famous American movies made in Ireland, you make a detour!

When I told my husband about it, he got so excited since "The Quiet Man" was one of his favorite John Wayne movies. He gave me a quick refresh on the movie's plot since I'd only seen it once, and off we went to the main "The Quiet Man" film location, Cong, Ireland, in the hopes of immersing ourselves in the Hollywood of yesteryear. 

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What is "The Quiet Man"?



At it's heart, "The Quiet Man" film takes John Wayne, the usual rough and tumble Western icon, and puts him in a very unexpected situation: his character has had enough of his life as a boxer in America and wants to settle down quietly on his family's old homestead in Western Ireland. 

Of course, nothing is that simple in the movies, and Wayne's character, Sean Thorton, deals with many complications, including his feisty girlfriend (Maureen O'Hara), her inability to get her dowry from her brother, and Sean Thorton's own guilt over killing a fellow fighter in a match-gone-wrong.

This was the second of  the 5 John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara movies that were made between 1950 and 1971, and it ended up winning the 1952 Oscar for Best Director (John Ford) and for Best Cinematography. 

[Side note: we ended up crossing paths with John Ford again on our Las Vegas to Denver road trip: he was the reason why we all think of Monument Valley when we think American Westerns!]




Where was "The Quiet Man" Filmed?



If you love "The Quiet Man," or you're at all interested in film history, you'll want to head to Cong, County Mayo, Ireland. This small town is adorable, and it's easy to see why John Ford picked it as his filming location back in 1951. 
Wandering the streets of the town in search of John Wayne and "The Quiet Man" locations is probably at the top of the list on what to do in Cong, Ireland, but you can also go fishing in the nearby river, go hiking in the beautiful green countryside, or have lunch at Ashford Castle. 
I wish we'd had a day or two to settle into Cong, but we were on our way to Connemara and beyond, so we'll have to add more time in Cong later on!


Where can I find "The Quiet Man" Filming Locations in Cong, Ireland?



As soon as you get to Cong, you'll immediately start to recognize elements from the film: it's surreal to walk around what was once a working film set!

Following in the Footsteps of Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne: Discovering the Quiet Man in Cong, Ireland | CosmosMariners.com


Pat Cohan's Pub


Following in the Footsteps of Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne: Discovering the Quiet Man in Cong, Ireland | CosmosMariners.com


This is the first of the Quiet Man locations that you'll see upon driving into town: located at the main bend in Cong, you can't miss it! 

After it became famous in the movie, this location was then a supermarket and then a souvenir shop, so fans were often disappointed that they couldn't grab a pint where John Wayne had. In 2006, the building changed hands and re-opened just as it was in the movie, and--for the first time in 60 years--fans of the movie would sit down and enjoy a pint of Guinness as Sean Thorton does in the old Irish movie.


The Cottage



Following in the Footsteps of Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne: Discovering the Quiet Man in Cong, Ireland | CosmosMariners.com


Now a gift shop and museum, this little cottage near the river has been completely remodeled to look like the White-a-Mornin' Cottage from the film. From this location you can join tours of Cong, look through the newspaper articles written about the filming, and see replicas of the furniture that was on the sets. 

Note: this is not the actual cottage used for exteriors in the film. The real cottage is now in ruins, and the interior shots were all filmed back in Hollywood. Even though it's a replica and not the actual cottage, visitors will still get a good idea of what it would've been like to film around a traditional Irish cottage. 


The Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne Statue



Following in the Footsteps of Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne: Discovering the Quiet Man in Cong, Ireland | CosmosMariners.com


In a perfect example of how this film from the early 1950s still has the hearts of the Irish people, the larger-than-life statue of "The Quiet Man" stars was unveiled in 2013. 

Make yourself a part of one of the most iconic movies made in Ireland, and get a quick picture with the bronzed stars before you investigate the rest of the town. 


Ashford Castle



This being the poshest spot in town, the stars of "The Quiet Man" stayed here back in the early 1950s. If your budget allows, you can still call Ashford Castle home for the night in one of their five-star rooms or suites. The palatial 13th century castle also serves up authentic Irish cuisine in the on-site restaurant, afternoon tea in the Victorian drawing room, and drinks nightly in the bar. 

Two of the movie's scenes were filmed on the grounds: one where John Wayne's character gets in a scuffle with his soon-to-be brother-in-law, a confrontation that ends with the brother-in-law falling into the nearby river. 

The Ashford Castle Golf Course was the focal point of another pivotal scene in which Sean Thorton (John Wayne's character) forces his wife (Maureen O'Hara) to reunite with her family. 


Castletown Train Station



Following in the Footsteps of Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne: Discovering the Quiet Man in Cong, Ireland | CosmosMariners.com


Overgrown and generally forgotten, this once active train station is off-the-beaten-path and a "The Quiet Man" location for the most diehard of John Wayne film fans. It stopped greeting passengers in the early 1960s, but has remained to greet visitors of the movie.

The Ballyglunin train station has a giant "Castletown" sign (what it was called in the movie) on the grounds so fans can take their photos with more of an authentic feel. It's currently slated for some reconstruction work which will allow future generations to continue to visit. 


Following in the Footsteps of Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne: Discovering the Quiet Man in Cong, Ireland | CosmosMariners.com


Getting to the Ballyglunin/ Castletown train station isn't the easiest, as you'll have to wander down many tiny Irish roads without much direction from street signs. The easiest way to get there is to put the coordinates in your GPS: 53.4311° N 8.7937° W.


Other ways to experience "The Quiet Man" in Cong



If you'd rather have a guide, you can also take one of the tours offered by the residents of Cong that's all about John Wayne and "The Quiet Man" filming experience. 

And for the true Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne enthusiast, there's the annual Cong Festival. It was originally started in 2011 as a way to mark the 60th anniversary of the movie and welcome Maureen O'Hara back to Cong for the first time since the filming. It's now a fun celebration of life in this small Western Ireland town, and has Gaelic dancing competitions, food, and performances. 
You could also grab a drink or sandwich from the Quiet Man Coffee Shop, or get to know a few locals over at Squire Danagher's Pub. You can also stay the night at Danagher's hotel. Neither location was in the movie, but both have embraced the town's spirited love of "The Quiet Man" and its fans.

Cong, Ireland, was just one stop on our self-drive Connemara and Cong tour. We also explored Kylemore Abbey and several towns in the Connemara region for one incredible Western Ireland experience.

Read even more about our Ireland road trip here!


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What film locations have you visited? Is Ireland on your must-visit list?
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Following in the Footsteps of Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne: Discovering the Quiet Man in Cong, Ireland | CosmosMariners.com
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