Before a trip to Ireland last month, I searched the Internet in vain for a decent map of Cong, the village where John Ford filmed “The Quiet Man,” one of my favorite films. The maps are sketchy or unusable, as if we’re not supposed to find “the way to Inisfree.”
For Cong, Google maps show a false street name, a misplaced county line and no detail. Very mysterious.
So when I visited Cong on Sept. 13, I took some notes. For all of you “Quiet Man” crazies planning your own trip to the imaginary Inisfree of Connemara, here’s my map of Cong with a few hints at where you’ll find the movie’s most familiar locations.
My map is your map. Feel free to copy it, transmit it, print it, hand it out by the score. And if it guides you to the bar in Cohan’s pub, tell them Frank sent you.
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Click on the map for a larger version. (This might be temporary.) The map may suddenly look smaller, but click it again, and it should be large.
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“QUIET MAN” SCENES ON THE MAP OF CONG:
Cohan’s. That’s the Pat Cohan Bar at the northwest corner of Main Street and Abbey Street. It’s where we saw Sean Thornton enter Inisfree with Michaeleen Oge Flynn, where Sean and Mary Kate Danaher passed on a tandem bicycle, and where Sean’s big fight scene with Will Danaher ended.
Clarke’s. The pub across Main Street from Cohan’s. Cong’s market cross stands in the middle of Main Street, beween Cohan’s and Clarke’s.
Curran’s. The P. Curran pub was supposed to be in Castletown, five miles (“and maybe a half more”) from Inisfree. On the east side of Main Street at the end of Riverview, Curran’s is where Will Danaher drank outside with his farmhands after auctioning his sheep. Today it is the Fennel Seed Restaurant, connected to Ryan’s Hotel.
O’Connor’s. Emily O’Connor’s shop was behind Mary Kate and Sean as they pulled into Castletown in their horsedrawn trap (buggy) and saw Will Danaher across the street at Curran’s. O'Connor’s actually is a block north of Curran’s, on the same side of the street. O’Connor’s remains, but the old attractive sign is gone.
Dying man’s house. This is three houses in from the west end of Riverview, on the north side of the street. It’s where old Dan Tobin lay dying until the excitement over the Sean Thornton-Will Danaher fight brought him out of his bed and into the street.
Bishop’s car route. This is along the Cong River at the southern section of Circular Road, where the Anglican bishop was hailed by local Catholics cheering “like Protestants” in the movie’s finale. Driven by the Rev. Mr. Cyril Playfair, the bishop’s car went north, followed by Michaeleen Flynn’s horsedrawn jaunting car carrying Will Danaher and Sarah Tillane.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Toward the northern end of Church Road, it’s where we saw Sean and Mary Kate inside Inisfree’s Catholic church. In the low light of artist Harry Clarke’s stained-glass windows, John Ford slowed the camera speed to film here.
St. Mary’s Church of Ireland. At the south end of Church Road, this Protestant church served as the movie’s Catholic church exterior. With its steeple in the distance, we saw Inisfree women walk to Mass as children ran across Corcoran’s Field. At a font outside the church door, Sean offered Mary Kate a handful of holy water.
Lonergan’s fishing hole. On the west side of the Cong River, this is where Sean and Mary Kate did some “walking together” during their courtship. It’s also where Father Peter Lonergan was fishing for salmon when Mary Kate stopped to ask for marital advice “in the Irish.”
Ashford Castle. The castle, where much of the cast stayed during the making of “The Quiet Man,” is not in the movie, except in the opening titles. However, when Sean first saw Mary Kate, she was herding sheep on what is the third fairway of the castle golf course. The third fairway is just east of where this map ends.
Widow Tillane’s house. Sarah Tillane’s house, which was across the Cong River from Ashford Castle, has been demolished to make room for a car park -- that is, a parking lot. It's in an area called Strandhill, the hill over the river shore (strand).
The Playfairs’ house. It’s not shown on the map, but it’s across Church Road from St. Mary’s Catholic Church and along the stream. Not only did the Rev. Mr. Cyril Playfair and his wife, Elizabeth, live here, but Sean and Mary Kate borrowed the Playfairs’ tandem bicycle that sat outside.
OFF THE MAP: Danaher’s house. Will Danaher’s house, where Mary Kate lived before her marriage to Sean, is just southwest of the southwest corner of this map.
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And note: In the movie, “Inisfree” has only one “N.”
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This is a map of Cong in 1838, a dozen years before the Guinness beer family tried to build a canal from Lough Mask on the north to Lough Corrib to the south. The local joke is that water runs under, over and around Cong, but it never ran through the Cong Canal. County Mayo's limestone just absorbs the water, and it would have been too expensive to build a canal that didn't leak. So 160 years later, the canal just sits there, doing nothing.
You can see a bit of the abandoned canal in the first map, between Corcoran's Field and the golf course.
Lough Mask and Lough Corrib. Look at them as twin lakes. Only the tip of Lough Corrib is shown in these maps. Corrib is so large it contains 365 islands, one for each day of the year.
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