Every March, I celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and my Irish heritage by watching one of my all-time favorite movies “The Quiet Man”. Every year, since I was a child, it has always been a family tradition to watch this John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara classic.
The Quiet Man is a true love letter to Ireland, directed by John Ford. This classic story includes comedy, drama and romance.
Sean Thornton has returned to his native Ireland after being raised in America and making a name for himself as a prizefighter. Upon arrival into Castletown, Michaleen Oge Flynn, comes with his horse-drawn chaise and takes Sean to Innisfree. Along the way, Sean sees the red-haired Mary Kate Danaher in the field near the cottage of White O’Morn, where Sean was born. It was love at first sight. But, Sean quickly discovers that life, culture and custom’s in Ireland is very different from that of America.
In a battle with Will Danaher for the purchase of White O’Morn, Will quickly declares Sean an enemy. All the while, Sean runs up against local customs when trying to see Mary-Kate, requiring her brother Will Danaher’s permission to court his sister.
With some help from the locals, including Reverend Playfair and Father Lonergan, Will Danaher eventually is swayed to give his permission for his sister to marry. The riotous relationship that forms between Sean and Mary-Kate, punctuated by Will’s pugnacious attempts to withhold something of significance to Mary-Kate, form the main plot. The lively shenanigans by the local town folk, in and out of the local pubs, make a wonderfully heart-warming story.
The music, composed by Hollywood composer Victor Young, provides memorable elements throughout the movie. The soundtrack includes traditional Irish melodies such as “The Wild Colonial Boy”, “Rakes of Mallow”, and “The Isle of Innisfree”, which was recorded by the great Bing Crosby.
Hollywood does not make movies like this anymore. Make it a St. Patrick’s day tradition! Take some time to escape to the wonders of Western Ireland and the charm of Innisfree. You’ll be captivated by the opening scene when the Narrator, Father Lonergan, states “Well, then. Now, I’ll begin at the beginnin. A fine soft day in the Spring, it was, when the train pulled into Castletown, three hours late as usual, and himself got off. He didn’t have the look of an American tourist at all about him. Not a camera on him; what was worst, not even a fishin’ rod.”
Since Abraham Lincoln’s birthday was earlier this month, I thought it would be nice to acknowledge it with a little poetry courtesy of Walt Whitman. Walt Whitman never met President Lincoln but they lived in the same time and it was reported that Whitman greatly admired him.
They shared a lot of the same beliefs. He was very affected and saddened by Lincoln’s death in 1865 and wrote several poems in his honor. I know they are poems mourning his death, but they express what a loss his passing was and therefore honor his life.
Whitman’s poems “When Lilacs Last in The Dooryard Bloom’d”, “Hushed Be the Camps To-Day” “This Dust Was Once the Man” and “O Captain! My Captain!” are all about Lincoln. Most people have probably heard of the latter so that’s the one I chose for this year’s tribute. Let us all remember what he did for our nation.
“O Captain! My Captain!”
“O Captain! My Captain! Our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! My Captain! Rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up – for you the flag is flung – for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths – for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done.
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.”
Source: Poem from “The Whitman Reader” by Maxwell Geismar