The Quiet Man
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FAQ Contents

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Quiet Man can be found here.

Retired American boxer Sean Thornton (John Wayne) was born in Inisfree, Ireland, and it's to Inisfree that he has returned to live. The first thing he does after arriving is to buy from The Widow Sarah Tillane (Mildred Natwick) the White O'Morn, the Thorntons' family cottage where seven generations of Thorntons were born and raised. Unfortunately, this puts Sean in conflict with ill-tempered 'Red' Will Danaher (Victor McLaglen), sister of Mary Kate Danaher (Maureen O'Hara) on whom Sean has set his eye. Complicating the matter is the fact that Sean has a secret, one that forced him to leave his boxing career.

The Quiet Man is based on a 1933 Saturday Evening Post short story by Irish novelist Maurice Walsh. The story was adapted for the movie by screenwriters Frank S Nugent and Richard Llewellyn.

The town of Innisfree is a fictional town made for the movie. However, there is a town called Castletown, County Laois, which is where Sean first arrived on the train. Innisfree is supposedly about five miles away. There is a small isle called Innisfree, located in Loch Gill in Sligo County on the western coast of Ireland and made famous in a poem by William Butler Yeats. The poem Lake Isle of Innisfree appeared in an 1893 collection of his poetry titled The Rose. However, many of the scenes of Innisfree in The Quiet Man were actually shot in and around the village of Cong, County Mayo. On the following map of County Mayo, Cong can be seen straddling the southern border of County Mayo, just north of County Galway.

The only one who knows Sean's secret is the Reverend Playfair (Arthur Shields). Back in the States, Sean was a famous boxer who went by the name of "Trooper Thorn." After accidentally killing an opponent in the ring, he gave up fighting for good, and he now wishes to put that part of his life behind him.

g is the Irish word for "young", so if someone was named after their father or mother, they'd put g at the end of the name so people would know which one you were talking about, e.g. Sean (senior) versus Seang (junior).

Most viewers think that Sean knew someone was in the cottage and wanted to scare whomever it was. Whether or not he knew that it was Mary Kate is uncertain.

The film mentions "black beer" because reference to a brand would probably not have been acceptable. Most likely, it was referring to Guinness. "I'll have one of the those black beers," Sean says to the barkeep. The barkeep then replies, "Ah, the porter." Guinness used to produce different grades of their stout drink, the lowest grade known as "porter". The working class drank porter as it was the cheapest grade. The best grade, 4X, was a middle/upper class drink and probably not available in small rural pubs. Gradually Guinness improved the quality of their brewing process until they were only producing the good stuff, and the porter grade became obsolete. This didn't prevent old timers, however, from continuing to call it "porter" even though they were now being served Guinness.

This is a translation attempted by a viewer who knew a bit about Irish Gaelic:

Mary Kate: Nor lig m m'fhear chile isteach i mo leaba liom... arir. Chuir m fuinneamh air a chodladh i ... oh ... i mla codlata! Mla codlata! [I didn't allow my husband into my bed with me ... last night. I forced him to sleep in ... a sleeping bag! A sleeping bag!]

Father Lonigan: Card sin -- 'bag'? [What is that -- 'bag'?]

MK: Sleeping bag, Father -- with ... with buttons! Ms bre -- nor rith s ar a shon. An peaca ? [If he's [any] good -- he wouldn't have run even so. Is it a sin?]

Michaleen interrupts the fight between Sean and Will to tell them that the Marquis of Queensbury rules for boxing must be followed at all times. These are the rules that regulate modern day boxing.

Simply to refresh them, although it is overdone for the comic effect.

No. That was primarily Michaleen (Barry Fitzgerald)'s doing, aided by Reverend Playfair and his wife (Eileen Crowe). It was Michaleen who told Sean to take the bonnet of the widow Tillane at the horse race. [You can clearly hear Sean say "Ok Michaeleen, the widow's bonnet."] Even at his wedding to Mary Kate, Sean was just as surprised as Will Danaher to find out that Michaleen and the Playfairs had been leading them both on. Sean's ignorance in "the conspiracy" is ambiguous in the film because, to reduce the length of the movie, John Ford had to remove most of the horse race scene. Had the full scene remained, movie-goers would have seen Michaleen leading Sean to believe that if Sean did not grab the widow's bonnet, Michaleen would be ruined as a bookmaker.

Will returns Mary Kate's dowry money, and she and Sean toss it into a fire. Finally satisfied that she has obtained her money and that Sean is no wuss, Mary Kate goes home to make his dinner, while Sean and Will have their long-awaited go at each other. Will throws the first punch, Sean responds, and Michaleen starts taking bets. The fight goes from field to haystack to a river where Will falls in, finally ending up at Cohan's Pub where they continue to fight over who is going to buy the drinks. Drunk as two Irishmen can be, Sean and Will return to the cottage, singing and holding each other up. Mary Kate serves them dinner, and peace descends on Innisfree once again. In the final scenes, Will and the widow Tillane go riding together in Michaleen's courting wagon. Mary Kate and Sean wave to them, Mary Kate tosses away Sean's wife-beating stick, and they retire to the cottage with their arms around each other.

In one of the final scenes, they can be seen riding together in Michaleen's courting wagon, Will wearing a corsage and carrying a bouquet. The suggestion is that they have finally begun courting.

...when Sean buys drinks for everyone in the pub: The Wild Colonial Boy[A traditional Australian bush ballad]..

...just after Micheleen tries to get Mary Kate and Sean togther: The Young May Moon, sung by Maureen OHara Sean and Mary Kate's wedding party: The Humor is on Me Now

...when the villagers deliver Mary Kate's furniture to the cottage: Mush-Mush-Mush Tural-i-addy

...when Mary Kate gets her spinet back: The Isle of Innisfree, sung by Maureen OHara the pub just before Sean confronts Will Danaher: Galway Bay

...when Sean and Will are staggering home together: The Wild Colonial Boy

Most definitely. Maureen O'Hara was born Maureen FitzSimons in a suburb of Dublin, Ireland. She even speaks fluent Irish Gaelic, as she acknowledges in her autobiography, Tis Herself (2004).

There are lots of movies set in the villages of Eire. One movie that comes strongly recommended by viewers who have seen and liked The Quiet Man is The Field (1990), in which an Irishman attempts to save his ancestral farmland from an American developer. There's Ryan's Daughter (1970), in which an Irish girl has an affair with a British soldier during WWI, and The MatchMaker (1997), in which an American girl travels to the sleepy village of Ballinagra, Ireland looking for relatives of her senator boss and, instead, finds romance. Dancing at Lughnasa (1998) tells the story of five feisty sisters growing up together in a fatherless house in 1930s Ireland. The Playboys (1992) and December Bride 1991) tell the stories of two young girls in provincial Irish villages in the early 1900s who have babies out of wedlock. War of the Buttons (1994) is a semi-comedic story of the feud between rival gangs from two Irish villages. In Waking Ned (1998), a man wins a lottery and then dies from the shock, so the rest of the villagers in his small Irish town pretend that the winner is still alive so that they can split the winnings. Tristan + Isolde (2006) is a classic Irish tale of tragic love between an Irish princess and the British heir to the throne. For movies with a magical bend, see Disney's Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959), in which a wily Irishman goes head-to-head with a tricky leprechaun in order to capture his gold. Although total blarney, The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns (1999) is loaded with Irish jigs, river dancing, and wee folks. In Into the West (1992), two Dublin lads search for their magical horse. A young Irish girl searches for her brother who is being raised by selkies in The Secret of Roan Inish (1994), and Ondine (2009) is about an Irish fisherman who finds a woman in his net, who may or may not be a selkie.


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