The cast and crew of iconic movie The Quiet Man have been remembered in prayer during a special Mass in Ireland to mark the 70th anniversary of the filming of the classic movie.
In line with Covid restrictions just 50 parishioners were allowed into St Mary of the Rosary Church in Cong, Co. Mayo village, to hear warm tributes to all who played a part in the making of the iconic picture.
But hundreds more tuned in virtually to the live-streamed Mass, as Fr Declan Carroll honoured everyone from the film’s late leading stars John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, to the many locals who were employed as extras and behind the camera by director John Ford in 1951.
Fr Declan Carroll, the celebrant of the special Mass, said it was fitting to mark the 70th anniversary with a church service. He said: “There were so many people from Cong who worked as stand-ins and who were involved in some way. But most of them are now no longer with us. The Mass gives a chance for their children and grandchildren to feel part of it.”
He said it was sad that “we weren’t able to hold a festival because of the pandemic, so the Mass seems all the more fitting and arespectful alternative.”
Despite the many years since its first screening, “the film had a massive impact on this community, and Cong was probably the first place in Ireland to capitalise on a Hollywood movie. It led the way in that regard.”
Gerry Collins, one of the organisers of the event, described The Quiet Man as “the best thing” that ever happened to Cong. The 65-year-old, who was one of the speakers at the Mass, said: “It’s hard to put into words what the film has done for Cong. It transformed this village.
“The tourism that has developed because of it has been phenomenal. Obviously Covid has put a halt on things recently, but normally we get loads of visitors from all over the world. The biggest fans are from America, England and Northern Ireland.”
Father-of-two Gerry – whose son Sean is named after John Wayne’s character in the movie, Sean Thornton – said he’s looking forward to welcoming back fans to his guesthouse after the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.
“It’s been a difficult time, like it has for everyone,” he said. “But I’m confident we’re going to see fans coming back to Cong in big numbers eventually.”
Picture: Gerry Collins pictured before the pandemic leading his daily guided ‘Quiet Man’ tour.