EVERY year since 2011, the small town of Cong in County Mayo has celebrated the anniversary of the making of the classic film, The Quiet Man, in the form of a special festival.
An idyllic little village in County Mayo, Cong is where the passion of Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O’Hara) and Sean Thornton (John Wayne) was first played out in the silver screen in 1952.
Now, more than 60 years later, the classic film continues to be celebrated, with the most recent festival being held over a long weekend from October 4 until October 6.
Taking a trip to see the festival, and to experience the Quiet Man Gathering experience, I stayed in Lisloughrey Lodge, the former home of Ashford Castle’s butler.
Now a luxurious hotel overlooking gorgeous Lough Corrib, it also has a new and uber-stylish courtyard with luxury suites at the rear of the grand old farmhouse.
With Cong village alive with the memory of the making of a Hollywood classic film all those years ago, I took a ramble to pay a visit to a newly set up market, sample a glass of Guinness in the pubs where some of the famous scenes from The Quiet Man were shot.
Strains of the ballad The Wild Colonial Boy issued from Danaher’s Hotel, while the pubs were doing a roaring trade in still shots from the movie.
Even American visitors were snapping every conceivable angle of the beautiful village that their cameras could manage to capture.
Back at the hotel, the atmosphere of laid-back civility was sustained by both the staff – led by the hotel manager extraordinaire, Fiona Keys – and the other visiting guests, too.
I dined at the hotel’s Wilde’s Restaurant, which is run by head chef, Jonathan Keane. The restaurant has a sterling reputation and the chef is a true innovative genius
For starters, I had a real taste of the West of Ireland with sea-fresh Cleggan crab, followed by a main of barley risotto so deliciously thick and creamy, it was impossible to stop eating it, no matter how full I felt.
My companion had monkfish in a fennel sauce, which I tried and regretted that I hadn’t ordered as well!
One of the most memorable menu choices was a selection of ice cream in unusual flavours – such as beetroot – which were a delight for the palate.
Next up was the Innisfree Ball on the Saturday night – the highlight of the hotel’s involvement in the festival, as it hosted The Cong Festival Committee’s annual fundraising dinner and dance.
We danced the night away in a circle, taking it in turns to strut our stuff inside the circle.
When I couldn’t dance any more, I headed to my Lake View suite, situated in the courtyard. It was so private and self-contained that it felt like my own luxurious dwelling, and I was getting quite possessive about it by the time I left.
The suite was decorated in beautiful relaxing tones of taupe and ivory, with a splash of scarlet here and there. The bed was all crisp linen and deep comfort.
In the morning, after a generous full Irish breakfast, I left for Dublin with a spring in my step and a song in my heart, such as might have been whistled in The Quiet Man itself.
For further information and current hotel offers, see www.lisloughreylodge.com, or contact the hotel at 094 954 5400.