Treasures of Ireland: The Quiet Man

In between lake cruises, bike rides, hawk walks, mouth-watering gourmet dinners and evening turndown service, I manage to “escape” from Ashford Castle for a bit to go in search of the man who singlehandedly placed Ireland on his back and carried it to the top of just about every “must-see” tourist destination list.

During a prolific career that spanned nearly 60 years, the late John Ford, the brilliant Irish-American film director who helmed 137 features, brought one of his projects “home” to Ireland for location shooting: The Quiet Man.

A nostalgic tribute to Ford’s Irish ancestry, the 1952 film is a beautifully shot Technicolor presentation deserving of its Academy Award for Best Cinematography, and which also did much to promote tourism to the Emerald Isle that continues to this very day. Hey, I’m here, aren’t I?

Based on a short story by Maurice Walsh, an Irish novelist, The Quiet Man, one of Ford’s best-known works and the one that garnered him his fourth Best Director Oscar, is an epic romantic comedy set in the 1920s that tells the story of Sean “Trooper” Thornton (John Wayne), a retired, Irish-born, American prizefighter from Pittsburgh, PA who travels back to Ireland to reclaim his family’s farm in fictional Innisfree.


With the deed to the property barely in his grip, Sean quickly falls in love with the fiery Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara), but has to square off against her brother, Squire Will (Victor McLaglen), in a monumental donnybrook, to finally win her hand.

Cue the music: Dum-ta. Dum-ta. Dum-ta. Diddle-diddle…

One of my all-time fave flicks, I can’t very well visit Ireland without paying my respects to The Quiet Man and the genius of Ford.  So, here I am in the middle of Cong –- aka, The Quiet Man village — in Co. Mayo, one of the stops on Insight Vacations‘ Treasures of Ireland journey, where the lion’s share of the 42 exterior scenes shown in the movie are located.

Armed with a detailed map from The Quiet Man Museum & Gift Shop and several cameras draped around my neck, I transform myself into one of what the locals call The Quiet Man “crazies” — the thousands of tourists who invade their fair village every year — and follow in the footsteps of the movie’s stars, extras and film crew, reliving the scenes in and around Cong and framing a few shots of my own.

Cong, like all the other stops on the Treasures of Ireland journey, is not short on beautiful scenery and landscapes, which, if you screen the iconic movie, appear to take on a character all their own within the film. From Cong Abbey, to Pat Cohan’s pub (“A glass of Guinness and a toastie, please!”), to the Dying Man’s cottage, to the River Cong and its picturesque bridge; they all played their parts equally well in the great romance.

Why, I even have an up close-and-personal encounter with Mr. and Mrs. Quiet Man themselves.

The village of Cong, the real-life Innisfree, has built and painstakingly furnished an exact replica of the White O’ Mornin’ cottage, just like the one seen through John Ford’s lens. All the furnishings, artifacts and costumes are accurate reproductions.

The best part of my “location shooting” was taking the footbridge across the river for a leisurely stroll through the woods leading back to the grounds of Ashford Castle, Insights’ five-star accommodation while in Cong, and where John Ford and company stayed and used the sprawling estate as the backdrop for many of the feature’s pastoral and lakeside scenes.

Now fully restored from top to bottom, Ashford Castle, the historic, five-star country estate, set amid 350 acres of well-manicured greenery, gardens and rustic paths and trails, screens for its guests stellar, full-length classic movies daily in its new, velvet armchair-style seating.

Ashford Cast;e | ©

If you’ll fill up a couple of boxes with piping-hot popcorn, I’ll grab us two seats down front. But, hurry. They’re about to dim the lights and start The Quiet Man.

Treasures of Ireland | ©thepalladiantraveler.comCue the music: Dum-ta. Dum-ta. Dum-ta. Diddle-diddle…


For complete information on Insight’s 100+ premium and luxury-escorted journeys around Europe, including the Treasures of Ireland itinerary where Sean and Mary Kate come alive at Ashford Castle, just click HERE, or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.

©The Palladian Traveler

Borsalino w/ props SMALL | ©Tom Palladio Images



  1. Lovely Tom. One of my favourite movies too. Not too sure about the authenticity of the Irish accents (!) but it’s certainly great fun. Love the photos too, Mayo is such a beautiful county. Orna

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