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John Wayne in The Quiet Man, and County Mayo

Updated on November 12, 2012

John Wayne's clothes

Clothes worn by John Wayne in the movie, The Quiet Man
Clothes worn by John Wayne in the movie, The Quiet Man | Source

Introduction and John Wayne

In honor of St. Patrick's Day and the month of March I thought I'd turn to an Irish combination to write a hub about - John Wayne, The Quiet Man, and the place the movie was made, County Mayo. Everyone knows John Wayne and John Wayne westerns but no John Wayne movie collection would be complete without The Quiet Man. The Quiet Man film is a departure for John Wayne and Director John Ford because it's not a western AND though John Wayne, John Ford and Maureen O'Hara are all Irish, it's the first film they ever did on Irish soil! In spite of the film's popularity and enduring charm, many short biographies about John Wayne do not include the Quiet Man.

Marian Robert Morrison (John Wayne) was born in 1907 in Winterset, Iowa. He is said to have weighed 13 pounds at birth. I guess he started out as a big man!!As a boy he had a dog named Duke. In high school fellow football players began calling him Duke and apparently the name stuck. Unbelievably he appeared in more than 175 films (though this number is an estimate because he originally appeared as an extra in who knows how many films)! Today it takes more than a year to complete a film with all the special effects and such. By today's standards he would've had to be acting into his nineties at least to make that many films.

Although he starred in many types of movies over his long career, he is most known for westerns and war movies. He was nominated for three Academy Awards but didn't win until 1969 for True Grit. When accepting the award he said if he had known that was all it took (wearing an eye patch) he would've done it long ago. His first film was in 1926 , The Great K & A Train Robbery and his first starring role was in a movie in 1930, The Big Trail. His favorite movie role was as Ethan Edwards in the 1956 film The Searchers.

He became iconic in both movies and Americana. He was actually pictured on a 25 cent commemorative stamp in 1990 and is still named one of the top ten movie stars in America. It is said he was asked to run for President in 1968 but he didn't believe the country would take a movie star seriously.

As stated in the next section of this hub, this wasn't an easy film to get the go ahead for. As a result, John Wayne agreed to work on the film for less money than he would normally get and even brought his four children with him.

One of his frequent co-stars, Ward Bond was also said to be his drinking buddy. They had become friends in college and met up with John Ford when the did the movie Salute in 1929. I read that when Ward Bond died at the age of 57 he left his shotgun to John Wayne, a shotgun John had accidentally shot Ward Bond with.

Wayne considered Maureen O'Hara one of his best friends. (They starred in five films together.) O'Hara had a wing of her house she called the John Wayne wing for his frequent visits there. John Ford's little group included John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Ward Bond and Victor McLaglen. Wayne and McLaglen appeared together in six films.

[on being asked about his "phony hair" at Harvard in 1974] It's not phony. It's real hair. Of course, it's not mine, but it's real.

The Quiet Man Cottage, County Mayo

Quiet Man Cottage, moved to a more populated area.
Quiet Man Cottage, moved to a more populated area. | Source

The Quiet Man Film

Of all the Irish movies made by Americans, one of everyone's favorites is The Quiet Man with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. It was made in 1952 and also starred Victor McLaglen, Ward Bond, Barry Fitzgerald, Mildred Natwick and Francis Ford. The movie is based on a short story that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post that John Ford purchased in 1936. No one wanted to make the movie but he finally convinced Republic Studios to give it a go.

The movie starts with Sean Thornton returning to his roots and his birthplace and buying a cottage in his father's hometown of Innisfree. He falls in love with a local Irish girl, Mary Kate Danaher much to the dismay of her brother Will. The whole town becomes involved in the romancing and the Danaher Dowry becomes a stumbling block to the marriage, after the proper courting of course. There's a race with the winner able to pick his girl and her picnic basket full of home cooked food, there's a love scene in the rain, the wedding, the fight after the wedding over the dowry, and of course the big fight scene between Mary Kate's brother and Sean Thornton, and the happy ending when, after burning the dowry, Sean and Mary Kate welcome Will into their cottage, but these are all things you know about. What don't you know about the film?

First of all, It is said the film represents the struggle between old Irish views and customs and the views of 20th Century America. The movie has even been likened to a Shakespearean play with the love angle, family quarrel and involvement of the town and its values.

Did you know there are many Irish locals in the movie as well as two sets of brothers? Maureen O'Hara's brothers Charles and James Fitzsimmons and the well known Barry Fitzgerald and his brother Arthur Shields. What about John Wayne's four children? They are also seen in the race scene in the movie. He had brought them on location and John Ford put them in the movie. AND John Ford's brother plays the endearing old man that refuses to die.

When Sean and Will were fighting they were told to follow the Marquess of Queensbury Rules. The Marquess of Queensbury Rules are rules used in boxing. Written by John Chambers and published in Queensbury in 1867. The rules included; no wrestling or hugging, three minute rounds with one minute in between, a man on one knee is considered down, and so on. You can hear Barry Fitzgerald and others say Marquess of Queensbury Rules many times in the movie.

Authentic Irish Shawl

Maureen O'Hara, or should I say Mary Danaher's shawl
Maureen O'Hara, or should I say Mary Danaher's shawl | Source

The cottage at Cong

Inside the cottage occupied by Sean Thornton and Mary Kate Danaher
Inside the cottage occupied by Sean Thornton and Mary Kate Danaher | Source

The shawl worn by Maureen O'Hara was an authentic Irish shawl and is in the museum (the cottage at Cong) along with the blue blouse and red skirt she wore in the opening scene of the movie. You can see a glimpse of her green dress hanging next to the shawl outfit. The bed is to the left.

When Sean and Mary Kate take their wagon into town a store called "Emily O'Connor" can be seen in the background. This is actually a crafts store and is still in business to this day. The movie was based on a short story of the same name written by Maurice Walsh. John Ford bought the rights back in 1936.

Mary Kate and Father Lonigan were actually speaking Gaelic in the scene by the river when the good Father was fishing and Mary Kate was complaining about her husband's sleeping arrangements.

During the fight they all stopped at Cohan's Tavern. The Tavern still stands but is now a grocery store. The fight scene was filmed on the grounds of Ashord Castle, now a beautiful five star hotel!

Ashford Castle

Ashford Castle, now a five star hotel
Ashford Castle, now a five star hotel | Source

Town of Cong

Town of Cong where the Quiet Man was filmed
Town of Cong where the Quiet Man was filmed | Source

Cong Abbey Ruins

Cong Abbey
Cong Abbey | Source

County Mayo

The cottage used in The Quiet Man is still in County Mayo, in the village of Cong, but it has been moved to a more populated area than was seen in the movie, so it is easier for tourists to see. Cong is actually on the border of County Galway and County Mayo and is surrounded by streams. County Mayo is in the western part of Ireland and is the third largest county in Ireland. There are forty-eight towns and villages in County Mayo. County Mayo is loaded with archaeological remains and is a large tourist attraction due to its diversity of past and present. Bed and Breakfast accommodations abound as do hotels and rentals. You'll find mountains and valleys, fertile plains, bogs and rocky cliffs as well as the caves in Cong. There are numerous lakes in varying sizes as well. A truly lovely countryside to visit. It is no wonder John Ford picked this area for his movie.

Many scenes in The Quiet Man were shot on the grounds of Cong's 12th Century Ahsford Castle as well as the Ballyglunin Railway station which was the mythical Innisfree's station in the movie. Actually the famous fight scene was filmed on the grounds of Ashford Castle. The horse racing scene was shot in Connemara.

Ashford Castle is a medieval castle that was opened as a hotel in 1939. Fishing and shooting were its main draws when it opened. John Lennon, George Harrison, John Wayne, Oscar Wilde, Senator Ted Kennedy, and Brad Pitt are among some of the famous people who have stayed there over the years. Visitors have commented about the "delightful staff", "delicious meals" and "big bedrooms with gorgeous views".

Map of County Mayo as released by the Mayo County Council
Map of County Mayo as released by the Mayo County Council | Source

You can still retrace the steps of Sean Thornton and Mary Kate Danaher in the quaint little village of Cong. The small village has much to offer...of course the Quiet Man cottage, now the Quite Man Coffee Shop... Another tourist attraction is the Cong Abbey ruins said to date back to 1160. That is the amazing thing about Ireland, 1776 seems like yesterday when you're looking at buildings and ruins that date back to 1100 something! All in County Mayo!

So, you've traveled from John Wayne, The Quiet Man, and County Mayo. The three, (Wayne, The Quite Man, and County Mayo) are unbeatable. An Irishman in an Irish movie in Ireland, what more could you ask for?

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    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      6 years ago from New York

      I haven't met too many people that don't like John Wayne...he was definitely an icon. I'm so glad you enjoyed this hub and that you can share it with your Dad! Have a great day Deb.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      what a wonderful hub.. My father loves John Wayne.. he has every movie that John Wayne has ever made on DVD.. pictures you name it.. all over the house.

      he would love this hub. sharing


    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Now you've got me wanting to go back to Ireland! Never did get to the Ring of Kerry. Just too much to see in Ireland in the ten days we were there.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I actually had seen that film as a young lad and really enjoyed it from start to finish, it’s a classic, and good old John Wayne made it tops.

      Ireland is a beautiful country even if you are just driving around; the views are breathtaking and so ancient. I would actually love to go to the Ring of Kerry, and hike the mountains there, it is said to be an experience of all experiences.

      Plus the thought of finishing a days hike and wondering into a local pub and with it a Guinness and some good old Irish food, dam I wish I was there now.

      Vote up and a pleasure to read, TC.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      I was disappointed it wasn't on either Barb. Told Larry we'll have to by the CD so we continue our tradition of watching it.

    • profile image

      Barb Regan 

      7 years ago

      That was one of my favorite movies that i watch every St. Paddy's Day. It's been a tradition. But was not on this year? Don't know what happened. But it's one of the movies that makes you feel good about your Irish heritage.

      Thanks for all the info.

    • tillsontitan profile imageAUTHOR

      Mary Craig 

      7 years ago from New York

      Not only feminists but the Irish! When the movie first came out they weren't happy with their portrayal as "woman beaters". We love to watch it on St. Patrick's Day. Thanks for always being there for me Bob!

    • diogenes profile image


      7 years ago from UK and Mexico

      I loved that movie and watch it every time it comes round again on TV (Never did see it on the movie screen) The fight scene is great. McGlaglan was a genuine hard man in real life and I expect John could look after himself as well.

      Loved the part when Maureen got a good paddling and was dragged home. I heard feminists were most upset about that.

      Good article



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