Sarah had two firm requirements for our trip; the first was we had to visit the location where the Quiet Man was filmed, and that we would stay in a castle. Fortunately, we were able to accomplish both in the village of Cong. This blog is a little longer than normal, but does have some decent photos, so stick with it.
We set out for our first big test in driving on the left side, and it was actually pretty easy. One of the things all the guides tell you is that the roads are “a little narrower” than you probably are used to. That is very, very true. Plus the roads usually follow right next to the innumerable rock walls which are everywhere. Sarah spent a lot of time muttering to herself as we drove along next to the walls. Cong is all the way across the country—that being all of 2.5 hours.
In 1952 John Ford, John Wayne, and Maureen O’Hara, plus pretty much any major actor with Irish roots, descended on this quiet town. The village has capitalized on the success of the film with many places now renamed to the businesses they were named in the movie. The Tour HQ looks like the humble cottage “White a’Morn”, which is actually miles away in another county.
Pat Cohan’s is now a fine restaurant; when the movie was made, it was a grocery store.
There is the colorful dying man’s house, from where he leaps up from his deathbed to see the great fight.
The nice house of Mr. Reverend Playfair sits right on the river.
Squire Danagher’s substantial farmhouse is actually over on the Ashford Castle Estate.
The famous ruins scene was not filmed in the ruins of Cong Abbey either.
A few years ago Ms. O’Hara came back to the village for the dedication of this statue and for their annual festival.
When we finished our delightful walking tour, we headed down the road to start our stay at Ashford Castle. As you exit the main road, a liveried guard greets you and takes your name. You drive for a half mile or so, through their beautiful golf course, and drive across the bridge.
Your five star treatment begins as they greet you, by name, and make your bags magically disappear. The greeting staff gives you personalized tours of the grounds and the facilities. We were a little early, so we went into their lounge, for a light lunch and a little appropriate refreshment.
After we got settled in our room, we went out exploring the hundreds of acres of gardens.
Here is a view of what the whole castle looks like. It was originally built as a summer hunting lodge by the heirs of the Guinness Brewing Company.
After our dinner in the dungeon, we wandered around for a while longer until the live music started at 9:00 PM. Oh, and they have the Quiet Man movie free 24 hours a day on the telly.
The castle offers salmon and trout fishing, golf, equestrian activities and is also home to the Ireland Falconry School.
We signed up to go and fly a hawk, and it was one of our absolutely favorite parts of the whole trip. Our Hawk’s name was Aztec.
He was exceptionally well trained and knew what he was supposed to do, we eventually learned.
Can’t lie, but this was an expensive place to stay. I can say that it was totally and completely worth it.