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Posted by: Joseph Kelly | September 28, 2017 | No Comment |

by Elizabeth Burgher

Elizabeth Burgher in Leenaun

In June we visited two Irish towns where two important Irish films were shot: The Field and The Quiet Man, shot in Leenaun and Cong respectively. It’s a well-known fact that the layout of sets in films is often not the same as it is in real life; for example, a viewer could see a man walk down a street and turn a corner, presumably to the street right next to it, but in real life those two streets could be a hundred feet away from each other. While this was also true for comparisons between the films and the locations we visited, what amazed me about visiting these two sites was how even if the physical layout was not the same, the overall feel of the place was.

Leenaun is a small, one-horse town (a village really), nestled on the Killarny Fjord in the west of Ireland, with rugged mountains and peaks looking down on it. This ruggedness is in complete keeping of the hardy, masculine air of The Field.

And in complete contrast, Cong was even more charming and idyllic in real life than the town of Inishfree was in The Quiet Man. Between the quaint little shops (selling a great deal of film-related memorabilia), the tasty cafes, the surrounding loveliness of the landscape, and the majesty that is the nearby Ashford Castle, the film’s depiction of heaven seemed entirely real. We rented bikes from the stables near to Ashford Castle and were whisking off through shady forests and sunny paths, and as I passed a tour guide (who was leading a The Quiet Man film location walking tour through Cong), he remarked, “And no, that wasn’t Maureen O’Hara” while all the tourists, including myself, laughed. As I sped away I thought, he could be right, because in that moment I could so easily have been her, a young woman bike riding through a heavenly little Irish town.

Through these visits, the films really came alive for me, because it felt like I was really living inside them. And I guess in a way, I was. It turns out that the phrase “life imitates art” has some true meaning.

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