‘After accidentally killing an opponent in the ring, boxer Sean Thornton (John Wayne) leaves America and returns to his native Ireland, hoping to buy his family’s homestead and live in peace.’
That’s how the film’s synopsis introduces it, but iconic movie, The Quiet Man (1952), isn’t quite that simple. The plot then plays out a complex, dramatic and romantic arc that grabs you for the entire 129 minutes.
The Quiet Man is widely considered director John Ford’s best film, and it seems the Academy agrees as the film and John Ford received Best Director that year. However, it’s not only the direction that keeps people talking; the cinematography is also Academy Award-winning. Winton Hoch, Director of Photography, created something spectacular and utterly beautiful for the time.
Where was it filmed?
The beauty of The Quiet Man is down to its serene Irish countryside locations. While many films of the day opted for studio settings, The Quiet Man has more than its fair share of outdoor beauty. Most of the film was shot in either Galway or County Mayo, in the West of Ireland.
County Mayo boasts dramatic cliffs and coastline set against serene green countryside and rolling hills, dappled with streams, rocks and ruins. The surrounding villages and farms give the location an old-fashioned feel, but one that’s entirely appealing to many, especially if you’re fed up of being swallowed up by the 21st century. Perhaps that’s what draws so many to The Quiet Man even today.
Galway is also located in the West of Ireland but to the south. It takes just under two hours to travel between the two by car. Galway is very different from County Mayo, with its harbour and bustling city centre. However, it’s equally beautiful. Most of the town was built in the 18th century and is filled with stone-clad buildings and maze-like lanes.
The locations of The Quiet Man
There are many iconic locations in The Quiet Man that you can still visit now. Some of our favourites include:
Cong, County Mayo
Cong is a small village in County Mayo; it sits on the border of Mayo and Galway. It’s one of the film’s most famous locations. It is here that the Dying Man’s house is located. You will also find Pat Cohan’s bar and the house of Revered Playfair here. Not to mention, it’s where Mary Kate Danaher and Sean Thornton courted. Saving the best until last, it’s also where the film’s most famous fight was filmed.
If you visit Cong today, a statue that celebrates The Quiet Man has been erect in prominent view, so you can stop by and have a photo with some of your favourite characters from the classic film that turned the mousey town into a tourist attraction.
Remember that picturesque stone bridge where Sean’s mother told him about White O’Morn Cottage, or so he dreamed? That bridge is in Oughterard, Galway. It looks exactly the same as a it did, although a small plaque that depicts Sean sitting on the bridge has been added so that tourists know that it’s really the one.
There are many old bridges in Galway, but locals are used to tourists asking for directions so if you were to visit, you won’t get lost. And remember, look out for the plaque.
The Railway Station
The railway station featured in the first scene of The Quiet Man, for the arrival, is Ballyglunin Train Station in Galway.
The train station was, in fact, closed permanently in 1976 and is now derelict, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit. Locals are currently fundraising to secure money to bring the station back to its former glory.
Lettergesh Beach, Galway
Remember the vibrant race scene? The beach came alive with cheers, the clang of horse hooves and the wave of bagpipes, and that beach is Lettergesh Beach in Galway.
Lettergesh Beach, as you’d expect, is unchanged. It remains a picturesque spot where you can bask in the serenity of Ireland’s countryside on a summer’s day.
White O’Morn Cottage
We saved the best until last, of course. White O’Morn Cottage is in Maam, a small village in Galway. The picturesque cottage is the one Thorton was battling for throughout the film, and we can see why.
Sadly, White O’Morn Cottage as we knew it is no more. The cottage fell into disrepair and, despite it filling newspaper in the local area, it was never brought back to the life. You can still see the ruins of the cottage, but nothing more.
However, there is a way you can re-live the White O’Morn experience…
Visiting White O’Morn Cottage
As we said, there’s not much of the original cottage left. However, there is something that’s close to it that you can enjoy to this very day.
There is a museum that celebrates The Quiet Man in Cong, the village we mentioned first off. While the exterior of the Quiet Man Cottage Museum only attempts to look to White O’Morn Cottage, the interior has plenty of authenticity.
Inside the museum, you can experience an exact replica of the cottage. Its furniture, costumes, ornaments and everything in between have been painstakingly recreated. The four-posted bed, the chairs and the tables are even the same.
This museum is a must-see for every fan. You can find it on Circular Road, Cong, County Mayo, Ireland.
Remembering The Quiet Man
Undoubtedly, The Quiet Man and its many beautiful locations are some of the highlights of 1950s film. Do you think Maurice Walsh, the writer that conceived the short story the film was based on, ever thought his ideas would make it so far? We’re almost certain he didn’t. The film is even now preserved in the United States National Film Registry and is considered ‘of cultural, historical and aesthetic significance.’ If that isn’t an achievement and a half, we don’t know what is.
Will you be heading to Ireland’s to explore the wonderful, rural locations of The Quiet Man?